Exploring the early days of Yashima (Yashica) – 1954

From 1950 through 1955 literally hundreds of photographic startups were hoping to capitalize on the booming post-war camera craze sweeping Japan and the United States. Many would fail and fail quickly but many went on to prosper and achieve phenomenal success by the end of the decade. This was Yashima’s first camera to carry the company name – the Yashima Flex.

I’m going to focus on what would appear to be just a simple thing – something that would be thrown away as soon as the camera was unboxed. This inspection tag and the guaranty document can tell us a lot about the company that went on to become an international innovator of quality cameras at an exceptional value. Her’s the story.

YashimaFlex Tag Paul Version (1)

Original “Inspection Form” that came with my Yashima Flex TLR. This is the earliest one found so far and it’s amazing that it made it the 65 years since it was first filled in.

For such a young company, Yashima looked as though it cared about producing a quality camera that would function as designed right out of the box. This tag was with my recently acquired Yashima Flex TLR which was sold in May 1954 at a camera shop in Yokohama. I’m going to speculate that the tag was completed and the various tests performed while the camera was still on the factory floor. My translation app hasn’t done a very good job with translating all of the tag but I do get “Inspection Form” across the top and of course, the company name, address, and phone number across the bottom. The camera’s serial number has been entered but not the Showa date info (what a shame). It’s interesting to note that the different tests are written in English for a camera that probably wasn’t meant for export. The red stamps are from each stage of the process and identify each inspector.

The reverse side of the tag has the word “Guaranty” clearly stamped with the company logo just beneath it. I don’t know the meaning of the “EP” and I don’t have a clear translation of the kanji across the bottom half.

Later in the process of readying the camera for distribution to the trading company, the formal Guaranty Certificate was included (see below).

Yashima Flex Guaranty Card

Original Guaranty Certificate that accompanied the camera set.

What I find most intriguing is that the camera received another round of tests with a different group of inspectors. Back in 1954 in such a new company that’s impressive and previously undocumented. This certificate does carry a date indicated by Showa 29 which is 1954. I’m further impressed by the fact that they had a stamp for the name of the camera and that the certificate has a line for an Electric Exposure Meter Test when no camera existed yet with a meter. The Yashica Flex model S (first TLR with a meter) was not yet released but must have been close to being finished.

Admittedly none of this is world-shaking info but to a lifelong Yashica collector and researcher, this is BIG. Every little clue sheds more light on the earliest days of this famous company.

Thanks for stopping by! – Chris

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