Some years ago I stumbled upon a simple camera that didn’t interest me at all until I noticed the engraving on the lens – Ghetaldus Zagreb. Zagreb is the capital city of Croatia, former republic of Yugoslavia and neighbor country of Slovenia, where I come from.
The company, whose name the lens wears, still exists in Zagreb, Croatia. Unfortunately, It seems that only a prescription glasses selling business survived, but in the golden ages of socialism the company produced optic equipment such as microscopes, prescription lenses and, as it seems, also camera lenses. After the fall of Yugoslavia, Ghetaldus divided into many branches and the production entities slowly went bankrupt.
|Ghetaldus produced sports eyewear among other optical products. |
Yugoslavia's import duties were very high to encourage domestic production. However, the fact was cleverly turned into profit by some firms with importing partly assembled goods and finishing them inside the country (e.g. some Yugoslav computer manufacturers and TAS Volkswagen factory). Ghetaldus may have establish that kind of business deal with the West German camera manufacturer Regula-Werk King KG that made the camera line named Regula. To which extent the cameras were actually made in Yugoslavia is unfortunately unknown to me. On the bottom of the camera it is actually written "Made in Germany". But the lenses itself are clearly unique, the lens caps and leather ever-ready cases wear Ghetaldus logo, cases even have metal buttons from TKG Ljubljana (Slovenia).
|Metal Ghetaldus lens cap with factory logo.|
The Model Lineup
So far I have come across the following cameras wearing Ghetaldus lenses:
• Regula IIb
• Regula IIIa
• Cita III
• Regula L
Regulas IIb and IIIa are kind of easy to find nowadays on a former Yugoslavian territory. They were made in relatively high quantities for such a small market. Serial numbers suggest that altogether 10000 of Regula IIb and IIIa cameras were produced.
It’s much harder to find a Cita III. Probably the camera was far more expensive and thus less popular. Based on serial numbers I recorded it seems not much more than 2000 examples were made. Regula L and Regulette are even scarcer. In my opinion they were introduced too late and never really caught up with East German and Soviet cameras widely available in the sixties across Yugoslavia.
In the links provided above you can find model descriptions and my own classification of the variants. Any help is highly appreciated – if you own a camera with Ghetaldus lens, please, share the serial number and the variant with me via the email address below.
Useful Links and image resources
cjs-classic-cameras - website with a lot of King cameras mentioning and showing Ghetaldus IIIa and IIb.
 Poster for Ghetaldus, famous Croatian glasses; design by Vladimir Fleck, unknown year. Source: "Good choice", exhibition catalog, examples of commercial advertising from 1950s and 1960s: Marinko Sudac Collection, 2014. Found on Pinterest.