As you may have guessed by now if you casually follow this blog that I also have a passion for collecting bits of camera gear made by and for the Nicca Camera Company. Nicca was acquired by Yashica in 1958 and that acquisition led directly to Yashica developing (with lots of help from Nicca designers) its first 35mm single-lens reflex camera the Pentamatic 35 by early 1960. Yashica was a bit slow to the marketplace with an SLR as Canon, Asahi Pentax and Canon (among others) had already introduced SLRs by then.
Because of this relationship, Nicca has always held a prominent spot in my collection and the Nicca 3-S remains one of my favorite 35mm rangefinders to shoot with. Recently I’ve added this wonderful flash set to my collection.
From the instruction booklet, it describes this as “an automatic rechargeable flash gun specifically designed for Nicca cameras”.
Considering its age (1953) it’s in outstanding condition. Hey, it’s as old as me!
All set to go. The Nicca B.C.B. flash unit attached to my Nicca 3-S.
Viewed from above the pilot lamp is visible on the top center of the flash head. It lights up when the flash is ready to fire.
The red-tipped bulb ejector button. You don’t want to handle a hot bulb.
As part of the set, I received the original instruction booklet and a pamphlet for the flashbulbs which were made by West Electric Company of Tokyo and Osaka – later to become or at least partner with National-Matsushita.
A closer look at the “Exposure Guide Numbers” card pictured in the previous image above.
The reflector is about 5.5 inches across. The bulb looks tiny compared to the reflector but believe me, it puts out some light!
Advertisement from late 1951 0r 1952. The flash looks like it used a slightly different connector cord than the one in my set. Hinomaruya ( ひのまるや ) was the Domestic General Agent for Nicca in Japan.
Details from the instruction booklet. Shown in this image is a capacitor and 22.5-volt battery to power the flash but it could also be powered by two “D” cell batteries or three “AA” penlight batteries with an adapter.
Size comparison between the flash handle and two D-cell batteries. As can be seen, the optional add on handle extension would need to be used.
Front view without the reflector. My guess is that the “BC” means battery-capacitor and the “B” is for battery (I don’t know for sure about the last “B” at this point).
Camera side view with the shutter cord connector and “L” bracket connector visible. The red-tipped bulb ejector button is also visible.
Parts detail minus the reflector and the capacitor/battery.
Nicca only made 35mm rangefinder cameras (maybe a lens or two but unproven) during its existence so the flash unit was made by another company. It’s likely that the West Electric Company, Limited, of Osaka and Tokyo was the manufacturer although no part of the flash is marked with the name “West”. Only the included pamphlet mentioned West. As stated earlier in this post, it’s likely that West merged or partnered with National-Matsushita Electric to build additional models of flash units during the second half of the 1950s.
Thanks for stopping by! If you know what “B.C.B.” means please share it with me. – Chris
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