Yashica 35 – Yashima’s first 35mm camera!

Yashima Optical Industries Company, Limited (Yashima) released their first 35mm rangefinder camera in April 1958. The camera was in development for at least a year (no proof of that but it seems reasonable to assume that an established TLR camera maker didn’t just pull this camera out of thin air). It could have been developed totally in-house as there is only speculation that Yashima received outside assistance in its development.

Here’s my earliest example of this historic camera. Note that the lens is marked “Yasinon” vice “Yashinon”. Yashima released at least two months of cameras (April and May 1958) with those markings before changing to what we now know as Yashinon.

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My recently acquired Yashica 35 with 60 or more years of dirt! Straight from an online seller in Japan. Note the unfamiliar “Yasinon” lens. These super early examples are rather hard to find since there were only two months of production.

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The good news is that it appears the camera lived most of its life in its leather case so there’s no damage to the surfaces of the body and lens. The bad news about living in a leather case is that it tends to support the growth of mold and fungus on the glass elements of the lens and in the rangefinder.

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The dirt is mostly made up of dust and fibers from the felt lining of the leather case and not soot and finger grime – which is a good thing. Sometimes this type of dirt actually keeps the surfaces protected from metal corrosion as long as it’s been stored in a dry environment.

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What it looked like on the Japanese auction site.

After some initial cleaning of the exterior (see below) with a bunch of Q-tips and some Windex, the camera is looking a whole lot better.

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I use Q-tips and a bit of Windex to gently clean the surfaces of the camera. The Windex leaves no residue and doesn’t harm the leatherette, metal or glass (I’ve safely used that for years). I use the super soft toothbrush to gently clean those hard to reach crevices and to polish the surfaces to a nice sheen.

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Looking sharp but not perfect. If I want a totally clean and usable camera I’ll have to remove the top plate and clean the rangefinder and viewfinder elements. The rangefinder is accurate and focus is easy to obtain but it’s just a little dim inside. If you look closely at the center of the lens you will see the patch of fungus. Unfortunately, that is not cleanable.

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The serial number, No. 843945, decodes to 8 = 1958, 4 = April, 3945 is the production sequence number 3,945 since production began in April.

This is one of the earliest examples of this fine camera having been built sometime in April 1958. Yashima used quality materials and production techniques as the fit and feel of the camera are of a much more expensive camera.

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Earliest sales brochure for the Yashica 35. The serial number of the camera pictured is just a bit earlier than my new camera. Here it’s No. 843002 and mine is No. 843945.

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Same brochure as pictured above. The f1.9 lens model is on the left. The serial number on the lens is No. 18275. Mine is No. 20254.

If you look closely, the lens is described as a Yashinon F1.9 even though the lens says Yasinon. Yashima was in the process of changing over or was it them catching a mistake?

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BTW, 17,000 JPY was about $47 USD in April 1958

By the way, it’s generally believed that these two lenses were made for Yashima by Tomioka Optical. Yashima did have a relationship with Zunow Optical by there’s no proof that these lenses are from Zunow.

Thanks for stopping by! – Chris

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

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Earliest Known Yashima Guaranty Doc

An exciting find from Japan. This is the earliest known Yashima (Yashica) guaranty document. The “29” is the Showa year (1954). Other documents that were with this camera puts the date of sale as May 5, 1954, at a camera shop in Yokohama.

Yashima Flex Guaranty Card

The translation of the writing on the lower left. “For cameras manufactured by us with this inspection knowledge attached, we will repair free of charge for spontaneous failures that occurred within 5 years after the acceptance of the user card. Attach the main unit when repairing.”

I believe that the pink paper is a receipt from the camera store that sold this Yashima Flex. It does show that a guarantee period begins on Showa 29.5.5 to 30.5.4 (1954 May 5 to 1955 May 4).

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Back in 1954, the camera shop listed on this receipt says “Onuki Katsura Materials Store”, Yokohama, Noge-machi. Noge-machi is a very popular shopping street in Yokohama and features an exciting array of shops, restaurants, and bars.

This camera shop has been in business since 1934. It’s moved to a different location in Yokohama and is still going strong today. You can visit them here.

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Part of the fun of collecting classic cameras like this Yashima Flex is discovering unexpected documents from when the camera was sold. Understanding the early history of Yashima (Yashica) is important to understand how a startup camera maker in a small village (Suwa) in Nagano Prefecture made its mark on the world by the end of the 1950s.

Thanks for stopping by! – Chris

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Who IS this guy? Part 2

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Yashica advertisement from 1959.

In a previous post, I had asked who this gentleman was since he appears in a few ads from this period and has appeared on the cover of a Yashica camera instruction booklet.

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Same image as above except this time in color.

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Now dressed as a “cowboy”. Same time period, late 1959. Sales brochure in German.

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My first thought was that he was a television star or movie star of some note but no solid leads.

Apparently, the bowler hat, pipe, and wink are all part of his act.

Thanks for stopping by! – Chris

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Yashica’s Tokyo Headquarters – 1974 and 2019

Yashica opened its new Tokyo headquarters officially in the Summer of 1974. Here’s a before and after picture.

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Yashica’s headquarters as it appeared in August 1974.

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Yashica headquarters building from April 2019. Photos courtesy of Paul Sokk.

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The current building is known as the Kyocera Harajuku Building located at 6-27-8 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Kyocera acquired Yashica in 1983 and for the most part, Kyocera continues to operate in many of Yashica’s former properties.

For more about Yashica’s history please check out Paul’s excellent site here.

Thanks for stopping by! – Chris

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Yashica 1958 & Yashica 2019

The title is a bit misleading – well actually very misleading as Yashica (the original Japanese company) no longer exists. Yashica was acquired by Kyocera in 1983 and killed off by 2004. My good friend Paul Sokk and I have been on a quest to find some of Yashica’s old factory buildings and because Paul has a sharp eye for details, he was able to find Yashica’s factory in Shimosuwa (Nagano Prefecture) while conducting some research.  The first image below is a scan from a sales brochure that I have from 1958.

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Yashica’s main office building located on the factory campus in Shimosuwa, Nagano Prefecture, Japan in 1958.

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The same building as seen this April (2019). The company that currently operates from the building (Mutoh) has no ties to either Yashica or Kyocera. Photo courtesy of Paul Sokk.

Notice in the current picture that the building has had an addition added to its near side (enclosing a previous carport) and received a rather mundane paint job especially compared to what I’m sure was a very colorful design originally.

By the way, the current occupant, Mutoh Industries, Ltd., makes large format printing machines. More can be found here.

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Aerial view of the Yashica factory campus with the office building (viewed from behind) in the center.

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The Yashica gym and auditorium as seen today. Look at the aerial view in the image above this one to see the gym as it appeared in the late 1950s. Photo courtesy of Paul Sokk.

Many thanks to Paul Sokk and his wife Kathy for sharing photos from their most recent trip to Japan. Paul is the creator of THE site for anything about Yashica TLRs and early Yashica history the site can be found at www.yashicatlr.com

Thanks for stopping by! – Chris

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Leotax Merite TV2 – 1958

While doing some research on late 1950s Japanese 35mm rangefinder cameras, I came across the Leotax brand. Their cameras are highly regarded by collectors and photographers alike. They have a reputation of being one of the better built Leica inspired models, especially during the early 1950s. I personally believe that Nicca built the best versions as I own several different models and I occasionally shoot with a Nicca 3-S.

My good friend Paul Sokk pointed out that a Leotax camera box in my collection has the name of the model spelled differently than the accepted norm – ‘Merite vs. Merit’. Intrigued we both started looking for proof as to the camera’s “real” name. The camera was also known as the model TV2.

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My recently acquired Leotax Merite camera box (from Japan). Mérite in French.

“Excellent mechanism with the best technology”… Leotax Merite

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Paul spotted this sales flyer from Leotax. The name ‘Merite’ is clearly spelled out. Notice that the camera itself does not have a name on it.

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Here’s a Merite camera (not verified) with a box that’s marked ‘TV2’ which was another name that the Merite was known by.

It’s interesting to note that the next camera in the Leotax line was called ‘Elite’. Another French word that would fit nicely with Merite. Is any of this definitive? No, but the fact that the flyer and the box match I would imagine that was and is the intended name.

For more about the Leotax Camera Company please visit here. The Merite is referred to by its improper name at the moment.

Thanks for stopping by! – Chris

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

 

Contax Heaven – ‘Yashica, A New Horizon’

The title refers to a not widely circulated Yashica marketing brochure that was sent to virtually all US camera dealers in early 1975. In it, Yashica informed dealers that they would directly distribute their products (including the Contax line) to them and that they had a direct representative in Yashica USA. Definitely a bold move by Yashica during a desperate time in their history (and struggle to stay solvent).

Here’s some eye candy from that brochure –

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How about finding this under the Christmas tree then or now?

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Really the first introduction of the partnership between Yashica and Contax.

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The marketing brochure (cover) from 1975.

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The original letter (not a copy) that was sent to each camera dealer in the US. Each was signed by the President (or more likely an underling).

I personally haven’t collected anything with the Contax branding but that hasn’t meant that I wouldn’t want to – just no more room for another branch in the collection.

Thanks for stopping by! – Chris

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Yashica’s History as reported by Yashica – 1975

The Yashica marketing team that put this document together back in early 1975 appear to have summarized the history of the company – or were blatantly unaware of the actual dates of important milestones.

But with that said it’s important to “take it all in ” from all sources and to glean whatever good bits that it does offer. Yashica wasn’t a company that seemed to be all that interested in dates anyway. Some of the dates were more than likely dates that were recorded in Japan and may have marked the actual, formal date that the event was finalized. There’s also the possibility that if this brochure was put together in the US there may simply be some instances where meanings were lost in translation.

This excerpt is taken from the Yashica publication ‘Yashica A New Horizon’

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It does use the term “highlights” when summarizing the events.

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Yashica’s new (1974) headquarters building in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo.

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Published in early 1975, this brochure was primarily focused on camera dealers located in the United States.

I’ll be sharing additional bits from this interesting brochure over the coming weeks. Previous posts can be found here and here.

Many thanks for stopping by! – Chris

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Yashica – A New Horizon 1975

From the rarely seen sales brochure ‘Yashica A New Horizon’ published in early 1975.

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This booklet was sent to all US camera dealers with a cover letter addressing Yashica’s future plans for distributing their line of cameras and photo equipment directly to dealers in the United States. In all of my years of collecting Yashica related items, this is the first time I’ve seen this publication. It’s a perfect 8.5 x 11 inches, in full color, printed on heavy stock glossy paper with 14-pages filled with photographs never used outside of this book.

Here is the cover letter that accompanied the brochure. It provides some insight into the heart of Yashica and at this point in time, brings to light their attempts to turn the company around and emerge from bankruptcy in a much better place.

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The letter is typed on bond paper (with watermark) and was signed by Mr. Kenji Sakuma so I don’t believe it is simply a photocopy casually dashed off to dealers. It shows how important this new program was to Yashica.

My good friend Paul Sokk (https://www.yashicatlr.com) pointed out the gender-specific remark “In the very near future, one of our salesmen, under the direction…”. When read using today’s optics it would appear as though it was out of place and implied that there would be no women calling on you Mr. Camera Dealer. Considering that this is from Japan and written in 1975 I believe it was simply stating the obvious – there probably weren’t females in these positions at this point in time and it would be many decades before the glass ceiling would be broken (struggles exist even to this day). Of course, the term salesmen could also be interpreted as a generic term for the position as the term sales person had not yet come into use.

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A view of the back cover which was released without the usual printing data or date.

The Yashica Line as represented in early 1975. Noticeably missing is the TL Electro X ITS model with its distinctive gold electron logo on the pentaprism.

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The Yashica line as presented in the brochure. The TL Electro X and TL-E are represented in the SLR category but no TL Electro X ITS which I find very odd.

As always, thanks for stopping by! Please feel free to share anything that may enhance this post or correct any inaccuracies. – Chris

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

The Yashica Okaya Factory – New View 1974

As I’ve previously reported here, Yashica’s last factory before the Kyocera acquisition was this modern sprawling complex in the town of Okaya, Nagano Prefecture.

I’ve recently purchased documents that show what I believe the complex looked like in the summer of 1974.

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This is the only detailed color photograph of the factory that I’ve seen. For my previous post about the factory and to see the original view from 1972 click here.

Another related post can be found at https://wordpress.com/post/yashicasailorboy.com/8052

Additionally here’s the text about the factory taken directly from the Yashica publication ‘A New Horizon’ that contained the color image of the factory pictured above.

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The introduction page from the 14-page booklet ‘Yashica A New Horizon’.

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Of interest, Kyocera still operates from this same location today. For the most part, it looks only slightly changed from 1972. Yashica was purchased by Kyocera in 1983 and was gone by the mid-2000s. A great company and a great name wiped out by Kyocera shortly after what would have been Yashica’s Golden Anniversary.

I’ll be posting more from this very interesting and informative booklet from Yashica soon.

Thanks for stopping by! – Chris

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.