• three celebrities: Dave, Klaus-Peter and the Retina-camera in our museum storage
  • Dave and Klaus-Peter are highly specialised collectors of the Kodak Retina
  • David L. Jentz from Granger, Indiana - worldwide expert and founder of the international Historical Society for Retina Cameras (HSRC)
  • rare and most wanted: Retina II, Nr. 122
  • celebrated: Retina I, Typ 010
  • singular: Vollenda 620, 6 x 6
  • forgotten: Retina I, Nr. 167
  • presents from Dave: Reprinted catalog from 1935 and the original catalog from 1939
  • a very special present from Dave in 2014: Original poster from a temporary exhibition of our camera collection in the Kodak headquarter in Rochester

Three celebrities in our collection: Dave and Klaus-Peter and a camera named Retina

Last week we gladly opened our museum storage to David L. Jentz from Granger, Indiana (USA) and Klaus-Peter Rösner from Pulheim, Germany.

Dave and Klaus-Peter are highly specialised collectors of one camera: the Kodak Retina. Dave is the Retina expert worldwide and founder of the international Historical Society for Retina Cameras (HSRC). Dave and Klaus-Peter know just about everything and more about Retina cameras produced in Stuttgart since 1934 in the August Nagel camera factory.

August Nagel (1882-1943) started his production in 1908 with Contessa Nr. 1. Since 1910 he created 23 camera types and exported them worldwide. He also was an enthusiastic aviator and balloonist and succeeded as a pioneer in the invention of a ballon camera named Atlanta, useful for geographic and military operations. The success story of August Nagel continued with the first roll film camera Piccolette in 1919 and the Deckrullo-Nettel, a very popular camera for reporters and travelers.

But the milestone in camera history was Nagel’s invention of the Kodak Retina. His intention was to create a 35-mm-camera for the general public, low-priced but with high precision. He succeeded. In 1932 his company was internationally known and highly reputated. At the height of success he sold his company to the Eastman Kodak Company (EKC) in Rochester. In July 1934 the Kodak Retina went on the market for a low prize of 75 Reichsmark. Production continued until 1969 with a lot of improvements and various types and most important with a very high output worldwide.

The head office of Kodak-Nagel in Stuttgart-Wangen housed for years a collection of very rare and special Kodak cameras. In 2010 the company collection came as gift into the Stadtmuseum collection. Since then David and Klaus-Peter came twice to research the collection.

Here are the camera celebrities they discovered in our collection:

Rare and most-wanted:

Retina II, Nr. 122 (1937)

A very rare camera and a most-wanted collector’s item. The model was originally designed for the Olympic Games in Berlin 1936 but came late and was on the market only for a few months.

 

Celebrated:

Retina I, Type 010 (1947)

This camera is serial number 100 000. It was the 50 000th camera in production since the end of the war. The enormously high production within two post-war years was celebrated in the factory with camera # 100 000 on September 11, 1947 with a quite humble ceremony.

 

Singular:

Vollenda 620, 6 x 6 (war-time/post-war?)

Only known sample which means this camera only exists in our collection. Collectors for years had been searching this camera without success.

Last but not least our collection was improved even more with a present that Dave gave us – and we are extremely proud of it:

Forgotten:

Retina I, Nr. 167 (1941)

This war-production camera was a mystery for a long time as Nagel stopped officially producing cameras during the war. And the camera was forgotten even in the factory history as it was missing in documentations. Later on this camera is mentioned by Karl Otto Kemmler in several books (1983 very inaccurate, 1989 better but still wrong).

Our very specials thanks go to Dave and Klaus-Peter. We are very grateful that based on their profound knowledge they gave us new insight into the precious camera collection that we are proud to take care of. The cameras and their stories will be on display at Stadtmuseum Stuttgart as of 2017.

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  1. I bought a Retina camera in Gdynia in Poland a few years ago. The camera serial number is 378572K.
    Lens:Kodak Anastigmat Ektar lens f: 3.5 F-5 cm. No. 1,662,314.
    Shutter speeds: B, 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100 and 300.
    Apertures from 3.5 – 16.
    Is this a Retina I type 167 ?
    With regards from Thor Helge Jahnsen

  2. Hello Thor Helge,

    Your Retina is clearly a Nr. 148, to be more precise a late one with single part top housing.
    This chrome version was the typical export version, and had a Kodak-Anastigmat Ektar lens.
    The „black“ sister model was a little bit cheaper and had a Retina-Xenar lens.
    Both lenses were made by Schneider-Kreuznach, and had the internal code Super-Xenar (4-element).

    If you would have looked closer to the Nr. 167 photo in the Stuttgart blog, you would have seen:

    Nr. 167 has a corrugated lens panel
    Nr. 167 has black body edges
    Nr. 167 has no depth-of-field scale
    Nr. 167 has a front lens setting
    Nr. 167 has a Kodak-Anastigmat lens (no Ektar), which is a 3-element Radionar …

    If you have at least 10 Retina models in your collection, and are interested in more information, you are invited to join the Historical Society for Retina Cameras (HSRC), founded by Dr. David L Jentz.

    Kind regards,
    Peter

  3. Guten Abend, ich schreibe aus Italien. Ich bin Eingentuemer der folgende Kamera Retina I (type 126): Kamera nr. 64000K, objektiv Kodak Anastigmat 1:3,5 f=5 cms nr. 243000, franzoesisch-version. Die Kamera, meiner Meinung, hat die behandelten Linsen. Und moeglich? Vielen Dank fuer Ihre Antwort und viele Gruessen von Friaul, A. Giacinto.

  4. Hallo Alfonso,

    das ist eine sehr spezielle Retina Nr.126 mit einem französischen Berthiot Objektiv. Sie wurde in Frankreich mit diesem Objektiv ausgestattet und durch Kodak-Pathé vertrieben. Deshalb hat dieses Modell immer eine französische Tiefenschärfe-Skala. Das Objektiv schimmert etwas anders als z.B. ein Schneider Xenar oder Ektar. Da die Kamera aber 1937 gebaut wurde, sind die Linsen natürlich nicht vergütet (behandelt).

    Für mehr Informationen empfehle ich die „Historical Society for Retina Cameras“ gegründet von Dr. David L Jentz.
    Einfach googlen, dann erscheint die Homepage.

    Viele Grüße,
    Peter

  5. Hi, I have collected Kodak Retina cameras for many years now. I have several folding models, all the reflex models including most of the additional lenses both Schneiderand Rode stock and one very interesting cased Retina Reflex S cased outfit.

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