wither thou goest, Kardon?

Kardon version of Leica IIIa in Pop Photo ad summer, 1947

Toronto. When America was finally dragged into WW2 on the side of Britain, they  had a problem. The Leitz NY organization was taken over by the US government, but no high quality American made 35mm cameras were available. Peter Kardon of the Premier Instrument Company of NY stepped in. He offered to use the Leitz NY equipment to make a camera based on the pre war Leica IIIa using Kodak lenses.

However; Leitz NY manufacturing equipment proved to be unrepairable to Kardon’s dismay, and worse, the Leica IIIa was hand assembled and adjusted by highly trained factory craftsmen. Kardon redesigned the IIIa for precision manufacture and assembly using many tools and dies made especially for this version of the IIIa.

Sadly, while his camera was a technical success, it was a financial failure. The war ended just as the camera was manufactured and it was too expensive to compete with Japanese and German rangefinder cameras. More, Kardon cameras used by government agents in Europe post war tagged them as American spies since expensive retail Kardons were seldom used by tourists.

This ad from page 141 of the July, 1947 issue of Popular Photography records the valiant effort of Kardon to enter the post war America retail market. My thanks to friend and fellow PHSC member, George Dunbar, for this snap shot of photographic history. By the way, a Kardon camera was worth far more in 2001 than it was new – or even used or even a used Leica IIIa! And they are worth even more today!

Note. The title of the post is based on a song from the 1950s based on the old testament of the Bible!

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