Film Photography, Vintage Television

1950s TV commercials for Ansco cameras and films

ansco_box
Pacific Rim Camera photo

Do you remember Ansco cameras and films?

For many decades, Ansco was second only to Kodak in the United States. Headquartered in Binghamton, New York, the company’s history stretched back to 1841. But its peak years were probably the 1950s, when it routinely manufactured two million cameras a year.

Ansco manufactured simple cameras that anyone could operate, and also rebadged as Anscos more fully featured cameras from other makers around the world, including Agfa, Ricoh, and Minolta.

During the 1950s, Ansco advertised its cameras and films on television. Many of its commercials were shot on film, and survive.

Here’s a short spot for Ansco films with a simple jingle. Don’t those harmonies just scream 1950s?

Here’s a spot for three Ansco cameras that took 127 film. Ansco manufactured the two Cadet cameras, but imported the Lancer from a German maker. I had a Lancer in my childhood collection. I never put film into it because its weak latch kept popping open, which would have spoiled the film. I hear that this was a common problem with Lancers.

This spot for Anscochrome color slide film mentions its “big extra margin of sensitivity” that makes up for challenging lighting. It also mentions making prints from slides using the Printon process. You can see a Printon print here, which shows that Anscochrome was a capable film.

If you have boxes full of Anscochrome slides, you’re going to want to project them. So you’ll need an Anscomatic projector!

It cracks me up how formally everybody dressed in these commercials. In the 1950s, did friends really gather casually in each others’ homes wearing suits?

In 1967, Ansco began to favor using the name of its parent, General Aniline and Film, or GAF. It stopped making cameras, instead selling GAF-branded cameras that other companies made. By the late 1970s, the Ansco brand name was sold to a Chinese camera maker.

Readers with keen memories will remember that I originally posted this in 2015. A challenge of a blog that’s about photographically documenting what I’m up to is that a long winter tends to run the well dry. So it has gone this year!

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Ansco Box

Ansco box
Minolta Maxxum 9xi, 50mm f/1.7 Maxxum AF
Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400
2016

Photography
Image
Photography, Vintage Television

Vintage TV: 1950s commercials for Ansco cameras and films

ansco_box

Pacific Rim Camera photo

Do you remember Ansco cameras and films?

For many decades, Ansco was second only to Kodak in the United States. Headquartered in Binghamton, New York, the company’s history stretched back to 1841. But its peak years were probably the 1950s, when it routinely manufactured two million cameras a year.

Ansco Shur Shot

My Ansco Shur Shot

Ansco manufactured simple cameras that anyone could operate, like my Ansco Shur Shot box camera.

Ansco also imported more fully featured cameras from other makers around the world, including Agfa, Ricoh, and Minolta, and rebadged them as Anscos.

During the 1950s, Ansco advertised its cameras and films on television. Many of its commercials were shot on film, and survive.

Here’s a short spot for Ansco films with a simple jingle. Don’t those harmonies just scream 1950s?

Here’s a spot for three Ansco cameras that took 127 film. Ansco manufactured the two Cadet cameras, but imported the Lancer from a German maker. I had a Lancer in my childhood collection. I never put film into it because its weak latch kept popping open, which would have spoiled the film. I hear that this was a common problem with Lancers.

This spot for Anscochrome color slide film mentions its “big extra margin of sensitivity” that makes up for challenging lighting. It also mentions making prints from slides using the Printon process. You can see a Printon print here, which shows that Anscochrome was a capable film.

If you have boxes full of Anscochrome slides, you’re going to want to project them. So you’ll need an Anscomatic projector!

It cracks me up how formally everybody dressed in these commercials. In the 1950s, did friends really gather casually in each others’ homes wearing suits?

Whatever happened to Ansco? Well, in 1967 it began to favor using the name of its parent, General Aniline and Film, or GAF. As GAF, it stopped making cameras, instead selling GAF-branded cameras that other companies made. By the late 1970s, the Ansco brand name was sold to a Chinese camera maker. You could buy Chinese Ansco film cameras through the 1990s.


Vintage TV is an occasional series. See all of my Vintage TV posts here.

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Film Photography

Photos from old cameras

I found some photos I took with a few of the old cameras I had and thought I’d share a few of them. Here’s a photo of my bike and my old friend Brian’s bike, taken in 1981 or 1982 with my Kodak Duaflex II, a fixed-focus twin-lens-reflex camera, in the driveway of the home where I grew up. I remember buying this 12-exposure roll of Kodacolor II film a few blocks away at Hans-Burkhart Pharmacy for way more than it would have cost to put a 24-exposure cartridge into my Instamatic. I didn’t mind the cost when I found that the camera was a pleasure to use — it was easy to frame subjects through the huge fish-eye viewfinder, and the shutter button was buttery smooth. The photos all came back bursting with color, with the subjects crisp and the backgrounds just out of focus.

Bikes. Taken with a Kodak Duaflex II camera.

I took my Argus A-Four (or, as it reads prominently on the camera, argus a-four) on our annual Camp Grandma trip in probably 1981 and took some photos of life around the lake. Taking a photo with this camera required some forethought since the shutter had to be cocked and the shutter button itself sometimes worked loose and needed to be tightened. At least the viewfinder was clear. Here’s a photo of my brother jumping off the well pit cover in front of my grandparents’ palatial retirement estate. I think I was using cheap store-brand film. I must also have used super cheap developing because these prints darkened quite a bit. Paint Shop Pro 7 restored this print reasonably well, though in real life the gold trim on the palatial estate was bolder.

My brother at my grandparents’. Taken with an Argus A-Four.

When I learned that my working Ansco box camera (ca. late 1930s) took film that was still available — good old 120 roll film — I was pretty excited and wanted to try it out. My then-fiancee was a professional photographer and gave me a roll of Plus-X to run through it. I think she rolled the film herself, and then she developed it for me. It was very cool. It was difficult to frame photos with this camera because the viewfinder was very small and cloudy. The prints turned out pretty well except for a slight haziness, which you can see in this photo of her cat Charlie. He was on the hood of my car only because the driver’s-side window was closed; otherwise, he slept in the driver’s seat all the time.

Charlie in one of his favorite places. Taken with an old box camera.

Do you like old cameras? Then check out my entire collection!

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