Photographica Pages

An online guide to collectable cameras and related stuff

The Jena Contax (and Ivory Contax)

Not long after Germany had surrendered, Soviet authorities ordered the production facilities in Dresden used to make the Contax to be dismantled and reassembled in Kiev. The plant was carefully photographed, and the equipment dismantled and shipped to the USSR. It was a disaster. Some equipment was sabotauged, some stolen. Much of it was exposed to the weather. By the time it arrived in Kiev, it was useless.

In 1946 Carl Zeiss Jena was given the contract to create three sets of tooling for Contax manufacture. This also nessessitated the creation of a complete new set of drawings as the originals had been destroyed during the war. During the process of testing the new tools and designs, a by-product was that about 300-500 cameras were built without company names or serieal numbers. After 1947 some production continued at Jena, producing some 2000-2500 cameras. These would be marked Carl Zeiss Jena and serial numbered in the accessory shoe. All but a very few were Contax II models.

One curious camera that came out of Jena during this period was the Ivory Contax. Reportedly five examples were finished in ivory lacquer and covered in tan leather. A small number of lenses were finished to match. You should know that if you are offered an ivory Contax, it is most likely a fake.