A Tale of Two Boxes

Often the design of such a simple thing (here a box) can tell much about a company, its history and its growth. Yashima (later Yashica) was founded in 1953 in a then very crowded Japanese camera market. The Japanese people were urged by the American occupation authority to essentially grow technology industries so that the country could earn some much needed currency. By producing sophisticated products such as cameras that would appeal to foreign markets, Japan would strengthen the yen against other currencies and offset some of their imports of raw materials, oil and food.

How does this relate to boxes? It doesn’t directly but it does show that at least one company (others did it too) was a serious player in the dynamic camera industry of the early 1950s. Yashima had to show the world that although their cameras (mostly TLRs) were inexpensive, they were of the highest quality. The construction of such a simple thing as a presentation box had to stand out among the other manufacturer’s boxes (mainly those from Germany) and compete for space on camera dealer’s shelves and attract potential buyers to at least take a look at the camera inside. The early 1957 (below on the left) box weighs in at 352 grams empty and the box from 1964 weighs 155 grams. That’s a big difference to be sure. The early box took more time and demanded more material to construct then the simple 1964 box which was printed flat and stapled together rather then glued (think cereal box). That’s a big change and reflects a strong desire by Yashica to maximize its profit in the rapidily changing marketplace of the mid 1960s.

We should point out that by the mid 1960s, Yashica was producing record numbers of twin-lens reflex cameras (TLRs) even as the world market demand for them was decreasing. By 1964 (the year the newer box was constructed) Yashica was producing high quality 35 mm single-lens reflex cameras (SLRs) as well as innovative 35 mm rangefinder cameras and sophisticated 8 mm movie cameras. Before the decade of the 1960s would end, Yashica pioneered the use of electronic photography and the use of “computers” to control exposure and shutter speeds in their SLRs like the extremely popular TL Electro-X.


Early 1957 Yashica Model A presentation box on the left and on the right the simple 1964 box.


Bottom of the 1957 box.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s