Long-time Ford Motor Company engineer and camera enthusiast Rodolphe Stahl founded his own company, Ciro Cameras, in 1941. The Detroit-based company was quickly noticed when retail giant Sears and Roebuck commissioned it to develop a TLR (twin lens reflex) camera for their department store chain. Mr. Stahl created the Marvel-Flex camera for Sears, and shortly thereafter his company released the markedly similar Ciro-Flex TLR. Its affordable price and user-friendly design made the Ciro-Flex - also known as "the working man's Rolleiflex" - an instant hit among consumers, and World War II also increased production demands significantly. Ultimately, there were five models of the Ciro-Flex (A-F) that reflected improved lenses and shutter speeds.
The flourishing Ciro Camera Company moved from Detroit to Delaware, Ohio in 1947, setting up residence at a one-time chicken processing plant on 425 South Sandusky Street. At its pinnacle, Ciro had 136 employees and 100 cameras rolling of its assembly line daily. The Ciro-Flex A was eventually dropped in favor of newer and upgraded models. In 1949, the fully-synchronized Ciro-Flex F was released complete with a Rapax shutter that could be adjusted easily to accommodate an electronic flash, and without the need for synchronizing or contact switch attachments. Attractively priced at $148.75, it was a sleek professional camera for the serious amateur. Also in 1949, Leonard W. Gacki designed the Cee-ay 35, which was the quintessential 35mm of its time, with a split-image rangefinder and a synchronized flash courtesy of its Alphax synchromatic shutter. It distinguished itself by its inexpensive price of $59.50, and its protruding lever focusing. Originally produced by the Candid Camera Corporation, the design was soon after purchased by Ciro, and rereleased with a few changes as the Ciro 35 in September 1949. After the Candid Camera Corporation closed, Ciro purchased all of its dies and camera-making materials.
By 1950, the Ciro Company was also manufacturing various attachments including cases, the Ciro-Pod, and the Ciro-Flash. It was also the subject of Bruce Downs' Photography with the Ciro-Flex, published the same year. However, as the 1950s progressed, Ciro went into a period of decline as the once popular TLRs began to wane as the post-World War II market exploded with other inexpensive cameras competing for consumer dollars. On October 1, 1951, Ciro Camera Company and its inventory was sold to Graflex, and although the Ciro-Flex and Ciro 35 cameras retained its name, they were eventually marketed as the Graflex Ciro-Flex and Graflex Ciro 35. Despite only being in operation for a decade, the Ciro Company is credited with encouraging a highly competitive consumer photography market by producing quality cameras that were reasonably priced and easy to use. An impressive collection of Ciro cameras was acquired by the Ohio Historical Society.
For a listing of CIRO cameras click here
2011 The Casual Camera Collector (URL: http://advwks.blogspot.com/2015/01/graflex-ciro-35-one-camera-three.html).
2012 Delaware and Delaware County by Jeffrey T. Darbee (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing), p. 53.
1972 Glass, Brass & Chrome: The American 35mm Miniature Camera by Kalton C. Lahue and Joseph Bailey (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press), pp. 250-251.
2010 Ohio's Camera (URL: https://ohiohistory.wordpress.com/2010/01/07/ohios-camera).
1949 Popular Photography, Vol. XXV (Chicago, IL: Ziff-Davis Publishing Company), pp. 24-25, 118.
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