Gnome

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Gnome was a photographic equipment manufacturer with it’s roots in pre-war Stuttgart, Germany, established by Heinrich Loebstein (b.1894 d.1977). His company made high quality equipment, mostly enlargers, slides viewers and projectors, and exported them all over the world.

Loebstein, being Jewish, found himself under the threat of being placed in a concentration camp by the Nazis, so in 1938 he fled with his family to the UK, and settled in the Welsh town of Pontypridd where he re-set up his company at Treforest Industrial Estate (one of the first Industrial Estates in Britain). In 1940, just after the outbreak of WWII, a lot of the buildings on the estate were requisitioned by the Government and their occupants re-housed in makeshift buildings away from the estate. The Ministry of Aircraft Production took over the Gnome factory. Gnome relocated to Cardiff and after the war, moved to a new premisses on Caerphilly Road, Cardiff, where they stayed for many years and helped to popularize photography in the UK.

By the 1960s, 80% of the enlargers sold in the UK were made by Gnome, and the company became a public, selling 400,000 shares. By now, Loebstein had been able to re-purchase his old factory in Stuttgart, but only used it as storage for products exported to Germany. The company closed in 1994.


Enlargers

  • Gnome Alpha Deluxe
  • Gnome Rangefinder Alpha II
  • Gnome Rangefinder Sixty-Six II
  • Gnome Universal Alpha
  • Gnome Universal Alpha II

Cameras

Gnome had little expertise in camera design, but made a few very basic models from 1949. In later years they sold a Gnome rebadged Adox Polo.

Sources

The Camera Shelf