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.
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.
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. The stereoscopes in the catalog were also former ICA designs because Ernemann probably already stopped producing and selling its more sophisticated viewers in 1925 (before the merger). Each product had a unique catalog number consisting of a product number followed by a number of the supported image format.
The 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.
- Gubas, Lawrence J. Zeiss and Photography, 2015
- Lorenz, Dieter, Fotografie und Raum, 2012
See also: blogposts about Zeiss Ikon