the brick

Argus C3
LIFE May 5, 1952

Toronto. No, not the famous Canadian furniture discounter, but an American camera made in the very late 1930s to mid 1960s by an Illinois company that touted itself as the “world’s largest manufacturer of 35mm cameras“.  The company began as a branch of the “International Research Corp. in Ann Arbor, Michigan, later moving to Illinois and in 1944 renaming itself as Argus, Inc. after its most famous and popular cameras.

The inexpensive C3 was commonly called the brick due to its weight and shape. My friend Terry proudly owned one in the late 1950s. The biggest fault was a tendency for the rangefinder to drift. To fix it, the camera had to be disassembled and the rangefinder adjusted. Once adjusted the camera had to be reassembled to test the setting.  Not a great idea.

The barrage of 35mm cameras came at a time when Germany was at war seriously curtailing camera sales. Post war, the Japanese models soon over whelmed the Germany models while the American models silently disappeared, reappearing occasionally as a brand name pasted on an Asian made and designed camera bearing no relation at all to the original.

My thanks goes to George Dunbar who thoughtfully emailed me when he found the original ad on page 114, in the May 5, 1952 issue of LIFE magazine, a time when American cameras were in their heyday –  Britain and Germany were still struggling post-war, and Japanese models had yet to reach its shores.

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