Montgomery Ward Ward 35

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Montgomery Ward  Ward 35

A long time ago, when the world was still flat, buyers had few and complex options. If one wanted to hang a shelf, it involved visiting the lumber yard for the board, the hardware store for a bracket, and a paint store for the finishes. All that if lived in the city. The upside was that the storekeeper knew his trade, and a piece of advice was at hand. Still in the city, there would be several stores of a given trade, so one may have to tour them all to find what was needed.

In the country, it was not as simple. There was a general store that could have some items. But for a specific product, you’ll need to explain it to the storekeeper, who in turn explains it to the traveling salesman, who refers the need to his principles that would do the same to the wholesaler who may have it or not. In an ideal world, the product would have arrived in a few weeks; in reality, you could order a tee square and get a rubber duck. Further, there was no ready information about the available products or options.

In 1872, Aaron Montgomery Ward of Chicago, a horse tack salesman traveling the Midwest, added other wares to his portfolio. Having little knowledge about the additions, he kept printed instructions. With added drawings, traveling became lighter, as there was no need to lug samples around. The next logical step was a bound catalogue left with the country merchants, which led to a mail-order catalogue available to the end user. In the early 20th century, his catalogue grew to 240 pages, covering all homeowner’s needs.

Sears followed suit in 1886, as did JCPenny, and Canada joined with Eaton’s a year later. UK Littlewoods came along in 1920, and Quelle in Germany in 1927. There are many more, but it is a subject for another forum. Most catalogues were published by brick-and-mortar chains, with Ward’s going backwards, opening its first retail outlet in 1926.

All catalogues closed down in the internet age with the Everything Store presence, which knows what you need before you think about it and get it at your doorstep the following day. Some catalogue brands saw reincarnations, mostly niche.

Several mail-order catalogues, like Ward’s, Sears, JCPenny, and Quelle, included cameras. Some rebranded to their name; some carried over the original brand. For added confusion, a typical camera selection was an assembly of different brands under similar names, such as the long list or Tower cameras, with little resemblance to each other.

Ward’s earliest camera was the Chicago View, dated 1897. Later they sourced cameras from Adox, Konica, Leidolf, Beauty, Walz, Minolta, and I guess others. Most were named Wards, with a numeric suffix. It ended in 1966 when the last camera model was introduced.

The camera on my bench is a Ward’s 35, sold by Montgomery Ward in 1956. It is a variant of the Beauty 35 I, introduced a year earlier. Oddly, I have a sibling, the Gen 35, a camera with little known history other than it was sold by the now defunct Simpson’s department stores in Canada. A third version, the Milo 35 (Mil-O 35), was sold by Miller Outcalt, a West Coast distributor that also sold the Westomat.

Note that some sites wrongly refer to the Ward 35 as based on the Beauty 35; it is based on the 35I. Another camera with a similar name, the Ward 35EE, is based on a Rondo-made model, with nothing in common with the Beauty-made model.

The four models are similar, with the differences specified in the table below. The winder arm is styled differently, and the Ward viewer is larger and brighter than its siblings. The Ward aperture goes down to 22, and the others to 16. The Beuty and the Milo had self-timers. The other two did not.

The camera is a modest post-war Japanese product, easy to use, and requires no imagination. All settings are easy to reach and read. Cropping marks are hardly visible in the viewer. To reset the frame counter, press and turn the knurled pin in the cold shoe. The lever cocks the shutter and winds the film. An oddity, to cock the shutter, it takes pressing the trigger twice. I don’t know if it is a fault or designed that way.

Camdex list number 23852 11076 N/A
Brand Montgomery Ward Taiyodo Koki Simpson’s
Model Ward 35 Beauty 35 I
Milo 35
GEN 35
Manual Butkus
Value Ward 35 Beauty 35 I
Format 35mm
Introduced 1956 1955 1955
AKA Beauty 35I, Gen 35, Ward 35, Milo 35
Country Japan
Qty made
Initial price 50
Currency CAD
Type Viewfinder
Body material Metal
Mode Manual
Weight 510 gr,  Body with lens
Class average weight 475 gr,  Body with lens
ASA range Memo only
Kit lens 2.8/45 3.2×45 3.2×45
Lens make Ward Beauty Beauty
Filter size 24mm N/A N/A
Lens mount Fixed lens
Mount size N/A
Shutter Leaf
Shutter make Prontor NKS NKS
Light meter None
Winder Lever
Lock No
Speeds B, 10-300
Mirror N/A N/A N/A
Viewer Viewfinder
DOF preview No
Exposure lock No
Exposure compensation No
Shoe Cold
External sync X/M
Sync speed
Timer No Yes No
Battery, original N/A
Battery, replacement N/A
Battery voltage N/A
Integral flash None
Service / repair links See


Ward 35 images

Gen 35 images

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