In my opinion, Yashica was the hands down leader in producing twin-lens reflex cameras starting in the early 1950s right up until the mid 1980s when the last TLR rolled off the assembly lines. In between there were some very important milestones achieved by Yashica. One of which is the Yashica 635. My good friend Paul Sokk has an excellent site dedicated to everything you’d ever want to know about Yashica so I’d invite you to visit his 635 pages at http://www.yashicatlr.com/66ModelsPage6.html#yashica635
One way to figure out when Yashica may have printed an instruction booklet is by the date code in this case printed on the lower left on the back cover. Not all instruction booklets released by Yashica had an obvious date code but in my experience quite a few did especially from the mid-1960s onward. In this example the 691 D 5Y 16 contains the date. I have high confidence that the 691 indicates the year and month 1969 January.
Here are a couple of additional examples (below).
In the example above, 673 is simply decodes to 1967 March which the hand written serial number 7041480 bears out. The first digit 7 is the year that camera was made. Typically cameras sat around in camera shops or distributer’s warehouses for a while before they were sold. This camera wasn’t sold until January 1969. TLRs were not as popular by the late 1960s as the rise in popularity of the 35mm SLR cut into sales in a big way. I’m sure this camera was heavily discounted by the time it sold.
So pull out your Yashica Instruction Booklets and have a go at “dating” your camera. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll learn. Feel free to contact me here for a go at your camera and instruction booklet. BTW, Canon was fantastic at printing easy to decode dates on their booklets and in their cameras, lenses, and accessories.
Comments are always welcomed as I’ve learned quite a bit from reader feedback. As always, thanks for stopping by and while you’re at it, feel free to visit my camera shop at http://www.ccstudio2380.com (CC Design Studios hosted by Etsy). – Chris Whelan
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