Well, “undiscovered” might be a bit of a stretch but at least unrecognized and undocumented as best as I can tell.
The very well known Yashica TL Electro-X but with a twist – no gothic “Y” on the pentaprism. No big deal really but it brings up some interesting questions. My good friend Paul Sokk (www.yashicatlr.com) and I have for years spent some of our free time exploring Yashica’s serial numbering system in hopes of decoding the numbers into some type of a recognizable date (if there was one to be decoded). Along the way, this version of the TL Electro-X would occasionally pop up.
Here’s the camera that’s now a part of my collection.
The serial number on this Yashica is 81200636. Here’s how it decodes: 8 = 1968, 12 = Dec, and 00636 is the sequence number for that month (December) assumed to start at 00001. Pretty simple once you’ve looked at hundreds of serial numbers.
This camera it turns out is from the first batch produced during a three month period of production (Oct-Dec 1968). I’ll refer to this as the TL Electro-X Type 1. When Yashica started making this camera again in July 1969, it saw a few changes – most noticeably the “X” was made larger and was now red, they dropped the hyphen between Electro and X and the pentaprism got its familiar gothic “Y”. I’ll call this second coming of the camera the TL Electro X Type 2 (pictured below).
The camera did receive one operational change as the “FP” flash socket was added on the T2 which was not available on the T1. The other changes are mostly cosmetic and I would guess these subtle tweaks were driven by the marketing department although there could have been problems with obtaining parts or production issues.
So if these changes didn’t affect the operation of the camera then why were they done? I don’t know yet and I may never know but up to this point in time this version of the camera went unreported even though it appeared in almost two years of advertising by Yashica! It was hidden in plain sight.
Contributor Jens Erik from Denmark sent me this ad from April 1973. It shows the T1 (lower right corner) and T2 together in the same ad along with the newly released Electro AX.
Is it just a version of the original or is it truly a different type? Because there were visual and production changes made I’m calling it a different type – TL Electro-X T1.
I’ll be sharing a few more studio shots of this new Yashica soon so be sure to check back. Oh by the way, since Yashica only produced the Type 1 for a short time they’re a little hard to find on auction sites, actually quite rare when you start looking for one. Compared to the Type 2 which was in production from at least July 1969 to the end of the run in 1975, you’re looking for a camera with less than 5,000 made against hundreds of thousands made.
Check your collection… maybe this rare Yashica is hiding in plain sight!