10 June 2020

Zeiss Ikon Stereoscopes

Category: Stereoscopes   Tags: Zeiss
Zeiss Ikon Stereoscopes - Black & White Photography and Stereoscopy Blog

Two Zeiss Ikon hand-held stereoscopes for the 45x107 and 6x13 formats. The magnifying lenses of these stereo viewers offer a wonderful viewing experience. These are the workhorses I use to view my stereoview collection.

The Zeiss Ikon company was founded in 1926 and was a merger of Ernemann, Goerz, ICA and Contessa-Nettel. The driving force behind the merger was Carl Zeiss Jena. This company was the main shareholder but was not part of the merger and continued as an independent manufacturer of lenses. Most of the Zeiss Ikon cameras were equipped with Carl Zeiss lenses.

Zeiss Ikon was one of the most important camera manufacturers until the Second World War. Its headquarters was located in Dresden and the product range initially consisted of products designed by the merger companies. In 1932 the company introduced its iconic Contax rangefinder camera.

Zeiss Ikon 100 Reichsmark share
100 Reichsmark share of the company from 1926

After the war Germany was divided into an eastern and western occupation zone. Zeiss Ikon was also split into an eastern part (VEB Zeiss Ikon Dresden) and a western part (Zeiss Ikon AG Stuttgart). The eastern part was renamed in 1958 to VEB Kinowerke Dresden and became later part of the East German company Pentacon, known for the Praktica cameras. The western part merged with Voigtländer in 1956 but the company was struggling to remain competitive. It ceased the production of cameras in 1972, which was a shock for the German camera industry.

Zeiss Ikon Citoskop advertisement from 1928
Zeiss Ikon advertisement from 1928
The Citoskop stereo camera was a Contessa-Nettel design by origin

Zeiss Ikon and stereo photography

The first catalog was published in 1927. It contained no less than 20 stereo cameras, all came from the merged companies and were relabelled. The largest part (9 cameras) came from ICA. A 1929 catalog shows only 8 stereo cameras. It was the logical consequence of cleaning up the range after the merger, but maybe it was also caused by the declining popularity of stereo photography in the late 1920s.

Zeiss Ikon 628/8 stereoscope for 45x107mm stereoviews
628/6 stereoscope for 45x107mm stereoviews

Each product had a unique catalog number consisting of a product number followed by a number of the supported image format. The model 628/6, but probably also the 628/8 were ICA stereoscopes by origin. Both devices are robust and support the viewing of glass and paper stereoviews. A frosted glass at the back illuminates the glass slides and a lid with mirror can be openend to view paper stereocards. The lenses can be focused and provide a large magnification that ensures an impressive viewing experience.

Zeiss Ikon 628/8 stereoscope for 6x13cm stereoviews
628/8 stereoscope for 6x13cm stereoviews

References:

  • Fotografie und Raum, Dieter Lorenz 2012
  • Pentacon on Camera-wiki.org