Wirgin

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Wirgin was a German company which is still known for its brands Wirgin and Edixa, and for its camera types like the Edina, the Edinex or the Gewirette. It was based in the Hessian capital Wiesbaden and made a line of quite inexpensive 35mm SLRs from the 1950s to the 1970s, including the Edixa Reflex and Edixa-Mat Reflex. Wirgin was West Germany's main producer of SLRs with focal plane shutters. It also produced some of the lenses for its cameras, among them several M42 screw mount lenses.

History

Wirgin was founded by the brothers Heinrich, Max and Josef Wirgin in 1920. In 1932[1] the company surprised the market with a very small viewfinder camera for type 127 film, the Gewirette. From the mid-1930s it also made Edinex 35mm viewfinder cameras, which they produced also as Adrette for Adox. These came equipped with a Wirgin Gewironar lens and a Compur shutter or a Steinheil Culminar lens (like a Tessar) in a Prontor shutter.

In 1938 circumstances in Germany had changed since the brutally dictatorial regime of the Nazi party had reached the peak of its success, pushed by the Olympics in Berlin in 1936 and the economic upswing. In their delusion of grandeur the political leaders decided to start making true all their only ideologically justified abhorrent menaces against minorities in Germany, especially against the Jews. Heinrich and Josef Wirgin still lead their company in Wiesbaden, but with the help of one of their clerks they managed to escape from Germany. Max might have been already in the US, his brothers followed. The Wirgin factory in Wiesbaden became incorporated into the Adox company.

After the war Heinrich Wirgin came back from America, now as Henry Wirgin, and refounded the Wirgin company in Wiesbaden. An administrative officer of the American occupied zone of Germany sent Heinz Waaske as promising aspirant to Wirgin. At that time Waaske had sold his prototype of a subminiature camera to the Americans. In 1951 the talented mechanician Waaske became a camera constructor. He constructed the company's first SLR, a model with focal plane shutter, the first camera like that in Western Germany. He also constructed a more elegant SLR prototype, and later a complicated electronically controlled SLR with Compur shutter, and a stereo rangefinder camera.

Max Wirgin remained in America, becoming the US importer of Exakta cameras, and selling other photo products through his Camera Specialty Company. For the US market, this firm sold some cameras re-branded as Wirgin which had no connection to the Wiesbaden factory.

In 1962 Henry Wirgin bought Franka. Since then several Edixa 35mm viewfinder cameras had been made in the Franka-Kamerawerk in Bayreuth/Oberfranken.

Made in Bayreuth and Wiesbaden were the small Edixa 16 cameras for 16mm film with removable coupled or uncoupled selenium meter, all derived from an original model designed by Heinz Waaske in Wiesbaden and developed and produced in Wiesbaden and Bayreuth as Edixa 16, Franka 16, or, for the Karstadt warehouses, as alka 16.

Waaske left Wirgin since Henry Wirgin had decided to give up camera production sooner or later. Wirgin granted the rights on a new 35mm viewfinder camera to Waaske. This camera was none less than the prototype of what became the famous Rollei 35. Waaske had constructed it at Wirgin company.

In 1967 the Franka-Werk was closed. In 1968 Henry Wirgin closed his original company and continued the production of some camera models in a new smaller plant. In 1971, shortly before its closing, the company introduced a quite modern but heavy SLR camera.

Some cameras sold by Wirgin and its American sales branch Edixa were not made by Wirgin or Franka, mainly the Edixa 8mm movie camera which was made in Japan.

Henry Wirgin died in 1989, at the age of 90 years, in Wiesbaden. He had not only been one of the top entrepreneurs of the West German camera industry, he was also engaged in recovering normal friendly relationships of non-jewish Germans to jewish citizens as chairman of the Society for German-Jewish co-operation.

History and Use of the Edixa Name

In 1952/53, Wirgin began in earnest to replace its pre-war camera models (including the Edinex) with all-new cameras with more up-to-date designs. In 1953 they released two new cameras: the rangefinder/viewfinder Edina line, and a 35mm reflex model named Komet. Both of these cameras represented significant design and technological advancements for Wirgin. The Edina camera was intended to replace the Edinex line (hence the very similar name), while the Komet represented a move into the advanced reflex market.

Unfortunately for Wirgin, the names of both the Edina and Komet cameras were challenged legally. The Edina camera name was challenged by Kodak, who claimed it was too close to the name of their Retina camera line, while the Komet name was challenged by several manufacturers who also had cameras with that same name.

Wirgin's response was to rename the Edina to Edixa, and the Komet to Edixa Flex. Thus both camera lines were now joined by the name Edixa. To further confuse matters, through the 1950s Wirgin labeled their Edixa-Flex cameras with other names such as Edixa Reflex, Edixa-Mat Flex, and Edixa-Mat Reflex. Lastly, in the US (and possibly other markets) the camera maker's brand name Wirgin was de-emphasized in favor of the overall brand name Edixa. Many cameras unrelated to the original Edina and Komet cameras were henceforth issued under the Edixa brand name.

Cameras

35mm film

Viewfinder/Rangefinder

  • Edinex series (including Candid Midget, Midget Marvel, and Adox Adrette)
  • several Edina and Edixa viewfinder/rangefinder models (not related to Edixa Reflex series below)

SLR

M42
Bayonet
  • Edixa Rex b, Edixa Rex d, Edixa Rex CdS
  • Edixa Rex TTL (fixed prism)

bayonet and M42:

  • Edixa Prismat TTL, Edixa Prismat LTL (fixed prism)
Leaf shutter
Prontor focal plane shutter
  • Edixa Electronica TL (fixed prism)
made by Cosina
  • Edixa 2 MTL

16mm film

127 film

120 film

plates & sheet film

Notes

  1. McKeown, p.1011.

Links

General links

In English:

In German:

In French:

Specific models

In English:

In German: