PERFEX - CIRO - GRAFLEX COLLECTION

VANGUARD REAL ESTATE

1938 - 1956

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These three lines of cameras have a combined heritage in consumer photography.  Though Graflex was an early pioneer in commercial photography, it was not until the mid 1950s that it made a material contribution to the amateur and small-film-format market, when it acquired struggling Ciro.   In turn, Ciro had launched into the camera market only a few years earlier, and entered the 35mm market by buying the production equipment and rights to the last camera of the failing Perfex line.   Graflex perfected two camera lines from the acquisition: a 35mm based on the last Perfex model and a twin lens reflex designed by Ciro.

Perfex Speed Candid  Circa 1938

The Perfex Speed Candid was manufactured by the Candid Camera Corporation of Chicago in 1938 and 1939.  This was the first camera made by this company, and was a marketing failure, thus these are rare and prized by collectors.   The plating process was flawed, so few cameras survive without flaws in the metal finish.

The camera is constructed of bakelite and metal.  Although this is a full-frame 35mm camera, it is large, bulky, and heavy.  It is substantially larger and heavier than the Argus A series cameras.     Despite the failure of this model Perfex continued to manufacture cameras until the late 1940s. 

 

What in the world is bakelite?

 

 

Perfex Forty Four  Circa 1939

The Forty-Four superseded the less refined Speed Candid in 1939.  This model has a cleaner visual design in the body, a coupled rangefinder and a hot show.  It also offers shutter speeds up to 1/1250.  It was only produced until it was replaced in 1940 by the Model Fifty-Five.  The Forty-Four and Fifty-Five had cast metal bodies.

 

 

Perfex Fifty Five  Circa 1940

The Model Fifty-Five was essentially an updated Forty Four with more refined features.  It was produced before and after WWII, being discontinued in 1947 as Perfex began to use stamped metal bodies rather than cast metal..

 

Perfex Thirty Three  Circa 1940

The Model Thirty-Three was a downgraded and less expensive with fewer features than the Fifty-Five.  It was produced before WWII, discontinued after 1941, but not revived after the war.  The shutter speed was limited to 1/500th of a second.    Still looking for one for our collection.

 

Perfex Twenty Two  Circa 1942

The Model Twenty-Two was a replacement to the Thirty-Three.  It was produced during WWII, but discontinued when post-war models were introduced.  The fastest shutter speed was equal to the Fifty-Five and Forty-Four, 1/1250th of a second.  It is reputed to have suffered from wartime quality issues, and used spare parts from prior models.  Both this and the Thirty-Three above have cast aluminum bodies.

 

Note that the logo on this is not engraved on the camera body, but on a riveted plate. 

 

Ciro Flex   Circa 1946

The Ciro-flex was an American made TLR manufactured during the 1940s and '50s.   There were six Ciro-flex models, A through F. The model A has a slightly different focusing mechanism, and is not quite as common. The B and C models have a non-synchronized shutter while the D, E, and F models have flash synchronization. The B and D models use the simple Alphax shutter while the C, E, and F models use the high-quality Rapax shutter.

Early versions of these cameras have a parallax correction frame under the ground glass.   In later models, the frame was replaced with a fresnel lens in order to help brighten the focusing screen. Overall, these are no-frills cameras with only a simple knob winder, no double exposure prevention or automatic film counter. However, they are sturdy cameras with good lenses and shutters.  After Ciro was purchased by Graflex the camera was produced until 1955, when it was renamed the Graflex 22 with minor changes.

 

Perfex Deluxe  Circa 1947

The Perfex Deluxe was virtually the same as the Fifty-Five, but with a stamped metal body replacing the earlier cast metal body.  This replaced the Fifty-Five ad continued in production until 1950.

This is the first of the post war Perfex models. It has an interesting design for an interchangeable lens rangefinder. The lens is mounted (with a threaded screw mount) to a ring on the camera. The ring is marked with focusing distances and this ring is rotated to focus the lens while the rangefinder shows what is in focus. It has a cloth focal plane shutter with speeds (from B to 1/1250 of a second) set on the top and side of the camera similar to older Leica and Canon rangefinders.

 

 

Perfex One-O-One  Circa 1947

The Perfex One-O-One was introduced in 1947 and produced until 1950. The camera body was constructed of stamped aluminum, like the Deluxe Model and covered in black leatherette, with chrome metal trim.   This was a less expensive camera than the Deluxe model, with fewer features.

The cloth focal plane shutter used in prior models was replaced with a more reliable Wollensak Synchro-Alphax leaf shutter providing speeds from 1/25 to 1/150 of a second or the similar Compur-Rapid shutter. It was fitted with either a Wollensak f3.5, Wollensak f4.5 lens. Other features included a built-in flash synchronizer, interchangeable threaded lens mount. 

 

 

Perfex One-O-Two  Circa 1948

The Perfex One-O-Two was introduced in 1948 and produced until 1950, selling along with the One-O-One, not replacing it. The camera body and available features appear to be the same as the One-O-One.   It may have been intended to be a replacement, and production might have ended on the One-O-One while inventory continued to sell-off.  As the company was failing at the time, there might have been significant confusion.

 

 

Perfex Cee-Ay  Circa 1949

We don't yet have one of these for the collection, this is a bit of the Holy Grail for Perfex collectors.   This camera was introduced soon before the company closed and sold production equipment to Ciro.  It is identical to the Ciro 35 shown below, but with the Perfex Cee Ay logo to the left of the viewfinder under the flash shoe.

This was a significant departure from the minor evolutions of the Perfex models from the Forty-Four to the One-O-Two.

 

 

 

Ciro 35  Circa 1949

This is a rebadged Perfex Model Cee Ay built by Ciro with equipment purchased from the failed Camera Corporation of America.   It features a built-in split image rangefinder.  It includes a flash synchronizer and automatic frame counter, and could except the Kodak 135 35mm cartridge from 8 to 36 exposure.   It was offered in three models: R, S, and T.  This model was offered in all black or with the metal top section.

 

 

Graflex Ciro 35  Circa 1953

A continuation of the Ciro 35 with Graflex logos on the lens and camera back, and in this case a metal top section.  I'm not sure, but this camera may also have been offered in all black.   Not that the windows on either side of the viewfinder have a lower aspect ratio, and the switch to the Century shutter and Graftar lens.

 

Graflex 22 Model 200  Circa 1955

This is essentially the Ciro Flex (above) rebadged as the Graflex 22.   Prior to the purchase of Ciro, Graflex had produced commercial camera equipment, and had at one time been the commercial camera division of Kodak.   In the late 1920s Kodak was forced to divest of the commercial division under the Sherman Anti Trust Act.   In the 1950s Graflex was challenged by foreign competition and their large format cameras were losing ground to compact 35mm cameras in the press and commercial markets. 

 

Graflex Graphic 35  Circa 1955

The Graflex Graphic 35 was a 35mm rangefinder camera initially made by Graflex in the US, and later by Kowa for Graflex.    It was introduced in 1955 as a replacement for the Ciro 35. Although based on the Ciro 35's design, essentially every mechanical part as well as the styling was modified. The camera was focused by push buttons located on either side of the lens, and the shutter was released by pulling outward on a lever mounted on the front of the camera body. Production ended in 1958 in favor of rebadging Japanese cameras from Kowa (see Century 35 below).

The Graphic 35 was available with either an f3.5 or f2.8 lens. A Prontor SVS shutter with speeds to 1/300 was used and featured V, X, and M flash synchronization. The rangefinder was of the split image type and used a separate viewfinder from that used to compose the image.

 

Graflex Stereo Graphic   Circa 1955

The Stereo Graphic is a 35mm stereo camera that was made by Graflex from 1955-1960. It makes pairs of 24x23mm pictures at each exposure. The lenses are a pair of Graflex Graflar 35mm f:4. The camera is fixed-focus, and the shutter has only time and instant (1/50) positions, which makes it a quite basic camera.

This was a gift from my cousin Jim Poteete, and the start of my interest in Graflex cameras.

 

 

Graflex Century 35  Circa 1957

In 1957 Graflex ceased US production of their 35mm cameras, and imported rebadged versions of the Kallo 35 made by Kowa in Japan. It was offered with both f/3.5 and f/2.8 lenses.

 

Graflex Century 35A  Circa 1959

The 35A is also made by Kowa in Japan, an upgrade to the 35, and one of several further refinements of the line which would continue into the 1960s.

 

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