CAMERAS > FRANKA
In 1909 Franz Vyskocil and his wife Leoni Vyskocil, owners of a small camera shop in Stuttgart, decided to move to Bayreuth and reopen their business as Vysko-Fabrik Franz Vyskocil, camera makers. By 1910 they managed to gather funds from Weigand von Berneck, and the company is named Weigand & Vyscocil. The name would be changed in 1912, as Frankonia-Kamerawerk, and again in 1913 with Weigand as the sole owner and partner A. W. Schulze as sales representative in Dresden. In 1914 the comapany was renamed as Hogaschwerk, and again 5 months later to the final Franka-Kamerawerk.
Until 1915, the company was moderately successful in selling plate cameras such as the Radial, and other cameras including one of smaller format, to be sold under the slogan "Mit Franka in den Krieg" ("With Franka to the War"). This success was maintained until the 30s, with metal cameras and two thirds of the production addressed for export.
In 1915, Wolfgang Hirschmann was hired as accountant, replacing A. W. Schulze in 1917 in the management. During the war and the beginning of the 20s the company had a few products unrelated with photography. In 1919 it moved, from Bayreuth St. Georgen to an old liquor factory at Bayreuth whose facilities were even improved in 1955. In 1941, Hirschmann's brother, Hans, and one of the long-term employees, Georg Zettner, were part of the management. In 1959, Hans and Wolfgang Hirschmann were the sole propietors of the factory.
By 1930, Franka finally entered in the roll film business. Many of its cameras were equipped with a removable mask allowing for negatives of smaller size. In 1939 Franka had already designed its first 35mm camera, having to wait until the end of the WW2 for it to be sold gradually. No new model with those features was to be presented until 1955, when camera production was mainly focused on the 6x6 format and leaving behind the 6x9 format. Franka's own last design was the Frankamatic Lux, quite a success and that included a coupled selenium light meter. The Franka 16, a miniature camera for 16mm film, was a Wirgin's design, who then subcontracted Franka for production.
In 1958 the company achieved its highest numbers with 154 employees and 650.000 cameras manufactured per year. Many of the cameras were sold rebranded under names such as Wenz and Klingel (mail order companies), Kaufhof and Sears, or photo retailers such as Birnbaum and Porst. Even Burke & James from Chicago sold Franka cameras until 1941.
In November, 1962, the company was bought by Henry Wirgin. Hans Hirschmann and Georg Zettner lost power but remained within the company. From this last period, sub-miniature cameras for 13x16mm negatives stand out, sold as Franka 16 and Edixa 16. Production ceased in 1966, and machines were moved to Wiesbaden where most of them were not powered on again. Only Edixa 16's production lasted for a brief time.