Mystery Models – v2.0

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1959 Yashica Model A twin-lens reflex camera instruction booklet cover.  

This dapper dude appears on at least two different Yashica brochures in the late 1950s and early 1960s. This cover shot is from a Yashica A III instruction book from 1959. He always appears with a “modern” pipe, fancy derby and is winking at the camera. My thought is that he is an actor who may have lived in or was super popular in Japan during that period. Any thoughts? Please see the back cover image below.

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Here he is in a German language Yashica brochure from early 1960 (below).

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Any help would be appreciated. As researchers of silly Yashica stuff, knowing who he is helps with some other silly stuff we’re interested in (Yashica-wise).

Thanks!

C&C

 

1955 Camera Case Mystery

During a recent restoration of our 1955 Yashicaflex A-II twin-lens reflex camera, we discovered that the leather case held an interesting surprise!

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The thread below is taken from our Flickr page (Yashica Sailor Boy).

Chris “As part of a restoration of my c1955 Yashima (Yashica) twin lens camera’s leather case, I discovered that the red felt material inside the case used backing made from Japanese newspapers! Leave it to the Japanese during the mid 1950’s to make good use of something that would normally have had one use and then thrown away here in the West. What really surprised me was how easy the felt pulled away from the newsprint without destroying the paper. I hope to get the writing translated… maybe some interesting clues as to where the case was made and when.”

Chris “The leather case was made for a Yashica Flex model A-II from 1955. The camera was purchased from a seller from Hiroshima, Japan. The camera was made in Tokyo and I am not sure if Yashima (Yashica) made their own leather cases or if they were made by a supplier. Maybe the newspaper will yield some clues as to where.”

Chris “I now know that it is a picture of Prime Minister Yoshida. This was a special edition newspaper made for (?) the Japanese National Railways (JNR). It appears that the paper is dated 17 February 1949. ‘Special Treated Approval Number 154 Issue’.”

Ken “The caption at the top actually records the newspaper’s national railways special handling permit #154, and does not identify the actual date of the issue in question. The article has to do with a controversy the prime minister created when he criticized a newspaper for allegedly spreading rumors about a political scandal concerning the shipbuilding industry. The scandal erupted in January 1954 and became one of the main causes of the fall of Yoshida’s government. It is not clear which newspaper this article comes from, but from the anti-government tone of the writing it is possibly the Asahi.”

Chris “Thank you so very much KenjiB_48. It helps to know this as it makes more sense for the Japanese company that made the leather case would have used a current (1955) newspaper for a camera made in 1955.”

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The inside front of the leather case held a similar surprise. It would appear that in the mid 1950s, some Japanese manufacturers found ways of recycling almost everything produced. Used newspapers, I would think, could be had for free. Why not use them for backing the felt to the leather. Pretty smart!

Thanks for your visit!

Chris ^.^

More ‘Found Film’

We recently posted a short article about the good and bad sides of ‘found film’. It’s always exciting whenever we acquire a new camera and find film from the previous owner. We enjoy trying to figure out what year the film may be from. In this case, the 120 roll is Kodak Ektachrome-X – color slide film or reversal film if you prefer. It was found in a Yashica-A twin-lens reflex (TLR) medium format camera.

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Yashica-A TLR and some ‘found film’. In this case some Kodak Ektachrome-X color slide film.

The camera (Yashica-A) is from October 1959. Its general appearance would indicate that it saw limited use as the camera is in near mint condition with only a few small detracting marks. It works perfectly and the optics are sharp and clear. The shutter is accurate and it’s ready to shoot with again. It always amazes me how many cameras we find with half used rolls of film.

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Nice little addition to our vintage film collection.

We’re not going to get this roll developed. Our experience with the most recent roll was basically a waste of money – and a bit scary as you never know if the previous photographer shot something bad. We’ll let this one alone.

If anyone can give us an idea as to when this style of film was in use we would love to know.

Many thanks for your visit!

Chris

You can visit us on flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/127540935@N08/

 

 

Forgotten and faded Florida…

U.S. Highway 17 was the way to enter Northeast coastal Florida in days past – long before I-95 was even imagined. If you came down from the North in the late 1940s, you entered Florida over a way too narrow bridge over the St. Marys River – the official boundary between Georgia and Florida. The two lane road was well traveled and one of the last cities you would pass through before the bridge was Kingsland, Georgia… just a few miles north of the river. The next city wasn’t until you reached Jacksonville, Florida – a long way south. You can’t really count the in-between hamlets of Yulee and Oceanway – they were home to flashing lights just to make you slow down a bit.

To be the first attraction – or motel – or restaurant – or bar – or whatever along this busy corridor meant something I imagine. Where would the tourists stop to take a picture or pause to, you know, rest? Highway 17 was the bomb – it was the way south. Then I-95 came and it was over in a hurry.

What’s left of the Florida firsts?

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U.S. Highway 17 bridge over the St. Marys River. Looking north into Georgia – this would have been your first step on dry land that was Florida.

After your safe passage over this way too narrow bridge, you would be treated with your first photo op…

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Everybody stops to get their picture taken in Florida! What better place then this sign… and with palm trees too! This is the sign along U.S. 17 a little south of the border.

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Gotta have a plaque to dedicate the sign.

All that’s left of some of the ‘firsts‘…

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‘Souvenirs’ and ‘Whiskey’.

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Nothing left to buy here except more time I suppose.

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More than a few tourists walked through this door… come in please.

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Faded Florida.

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Last one out.

A wonderful place to explore… that first half mile of faded Florida along Highway 17. Many more opportunities to be sure. It was the first motel in now forgotten Florida. The people are elsewhere but the photo ops remain.

Thanks for your visit. As always your comments are appreciated.

You can also visit me at https://www.flickr.com/photos/127540935@N08/

Chris

One last shot – a modern I-95 Florida welcome.

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Yashica 44… a ladies camera?

Any doubts that Yashima-Yashica was marketing to women for their new smaller 4×4 cm twin-lens reflex camera are erased once you see the cover to the sales flyer.

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In a male dominated society, Yashima-Yashica needed to leave no doubts as to who these new smaller and lighter cameras were for.

Normally sales flyers and brochures in the late 1950s were geared to and appealed to the male buyer. In all fairness, it was likely that’s who took most of the photographs during that period. Yashima-Yashica’s direct pitch to Japanese women was an attempt to tap the vast market of female buyers.

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As we understand it, the 44 model came in at least 7 or 8 colors!

Even though the front of the flyer was simple and left no doubt as to who the buyer would be – the reverse of the flyer was still detailed and quite technical. It’s possible that the camera was designed for the wife to use for taking pictures of the children (while the husband was off at work all day) but still detailed enough for the husband to feel comfortable purchasing. Just our take on things.

Thanks again for your visit – as always we appreciate any and all comments. In the interest of fair play, we ask that you do not copy the images and include them in your blog or post without asking for permission – thanks! ^.^

Yashima Sales Brochure… 1956

In just 3 short years, Yashima beat the odds and became a Japanese camera company that lasted long enough to produce multiple models. In the case of this sales brochure from 1956 – the Yashica Flex B, A and Yashica-Mat twin-lens reflex cameras.

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Well designed sales brochure from the little company that became Yashica.

Not that we’ve seen a ton of sales brochures from other Japanese camera manufacturers from this era, but we think this was rather provocative for the mid 1950s (at least in the US we would think). This brochure was intended for the home market and the culture of Japan is a tad less uptight about things like this.

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Lovely model on the back cover of the brochure.

The first page inside the brochure in packed with information not typically found in a brochure. Yashima was, in our opinion, marketing itself beyond what such a young company would normally look like. These series of Yashica Flex Photography books were excellent creations that went far beyond a simple owner’s guide.

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You’ve got the year (1956), two examples of the Yashica Flex Photography books and some prices of the cameras.

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Last inside page of the brochure depicting Yashima’s new modern factory in Suwa, Nagano Prefecture, Japan.

Yashima was a very proud company and they were eager to show how much they grew since 1953.

Thanks so much for your visit. The goal of our blog is to stimulate discussion and further the knowledge of all things Yashima-Yashica. Please share your comments with us… we’d be happy to read them. One final thought, we share our brochures with others and ask that you do not copy or post our images into your blog or post without permission. Thanks!

Chris & Carol

1954… Yashica Flex Model S

When Yashima started making twin-lens reflex cameras in a small factory along the shores of Lake Suwa in Nagano Prefecture, they were but one of hundreds of “start-ups” entering the already crowded Japanese camera manufacturing business. Many would fail – and fail quickly they did. But little Yashima, with two brothers from Nagano at the helm, managed to take a big step – to make a second and then third camera.

The first was the Pigeonflex (great name but how do you grow with a name like that), then came the Yashima Flex and Yashica Flex B. In 1954 (late) they built the now famous Yashica Flex Model S. The first TLR in the world with an attached exposure meter! Yep, in the world! None of the already established players had produced one like that. The meter was supplied by Sekonic and screwed to the side of the body and hidden light sensors under the name flap sent electricity to the meter. Bingo. Meter and camera merged! 1954

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Cropped scan from a rather rare (in the US) Yashima sales flyer for the Yashica Flex Model S. It’s one of the earliest pamphlets around for this camera.

The light sensing cells were built-in under the flap that was the nameplate. You would open the flap and the maximum amount of light would strike the cells and send an electrical signal to the meter  (#1 above). You then used # 2, 3, 4, and 5 to “compute” your exposure settings. Simple except that you needed the eyesight of an eagle to actually see the numbers on the scale. It it was real sunny out, you didn’t need to lift the flap to get an accurate reading – there were 12 holes in the flap that would let in enough light to set the exposure.

In a testament to the designers, many of these early exposure meters still function even after 6 decades of use. But, many have fail too mostly caused by a failure of the wire to meter connection. The cells are fine (no batteries, sun powered).

As always we appreciate your visit. We’re glad to share some of our collection of early sales material and of course to chat up our Yashima-Yashicas. In the spirit of fair play, we ask that you do not copy or post our images in your blog or post without our permission. Thanks.

Chris & Carol

Super Rare Yashica Flex S Brochure… 1954

We’ve recently acquired a super rare (here in the US) Yashima sales flyer (pamphlet) that covers one of Yashima’s most advanced cameras at the time. The Yashica Flex S was the first TLR with an attached exposure meter in the world! The meter was made and supplied by Sekonic. And if you had great eyesight and were good with sliding scales, you could actually set the proper aperture and shutter speed for your film. Cool! Yashima-Yashica was the first to do it! One of our Yashica Flex S models has a working exposure meter even after six decades! Double cool!

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From 1954.

The next scan is the reverse side of the flyer and featured a contest!

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Out of 3,200 entrants these ladies were chosen to vie for the title of “Miss Yashima”. All you had to do was vote at your favorite trading company (camera store). We chose Miss Kimiko Yamaguchi (front left) as our Miss Yashima.

We hope you enjoyed these glimpses into Yashima-Yashica’s past. We like that we can share them. In the spirit of all things fair, we ask that you do not copy them or use them in another blog or post without asking for permission first.

Many thanks for your visit! Chris & Carol

Pentamatic S and friends…

We’ve recently found a nice looking friend for our collection… well, friends. Like almost all collections, ours doesn’t need more friends – more space maybe, but no new friends. This flash came as an accessory to a recent purchase of a Yashica twin-lens reflex camera (from 1956). After a quick cleaning we attached it to our S to see how they would look together – smashing we think! The Kodak Kodachrome is from 1959 and adds a nice touch to the set up. We’ve always loved the bright yellow and red metal film cans from Kodak.

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We put our Pentamatic S, from early 1961 or so, and the Zeiss Ikon Ikoblitz 4 (late 1950s?) together. Sadly the flash takes a now defunct battery and has a capacitor so not much we can do except enjoy the view.

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They make for a handsome display. All are age appropriate too.

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With the flash tucked away in its hard plastic shell it takes on an interesting look.

Hope you enjoyed your visit and if you care to, please leave a comment or suggestion for us. Of course if you know more about the Zeiss Ikon flash or want to contribute something about the Pentamatic, please do so!

Many thanks again… Chris and Carol

You can find us on flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/127540935@N08/

Nicca Pentamatic!?

We know… doesn’t make sense, does it? Doesn’t even sound right… “Nicca Pentamatic”.

Stay with us and we’ll try to make our case. Recently discovered information has filled-in some of the missing links in the development of our favorite obsession camera. The mysterious and seldom seen Pentamatic ’35’… Yashica’s first SLR.

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Nicca 3-F 35 mm rangefinder (left) and Yashica Pentamatic 35 mm single-lens reflex SLR (right).

A few interesting bits of info have come to our attention recently. We were alerted to an auction by our friend Paul Sokk (http://www.yashicatlr.com) that listed a 13.5 cm f/ 2.8 lens made by Taiho Optical Company –  Nicca Lens. Having never heard of the company, Taiho Optical, and knowing about Nicca’s history, we couldn’t figure out where and how there could be a Nicca connection.

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Let’s backtrack a bit with a quick history lesson. Yashima-Yashica was a very successful maker of high quality, low-cost twin-lens reflex cameras but hadn’t moved into the 35 mm market as of early 1957. It appears that the president and founder of Yashima-Yashica, Mr. Yoshimasa Ushiyama could see that although Yashica was successful building TLRs, the market for them would slowly diminish as new, smaller and easier to use 35 mm cameras would grab the marketplace. He wanted in but how? Yashica had no experience in 35 mm cameras, especially rangefinder cameras with cloth focal-plane shutters. There were dozens of Leica copy cameras in Japan (and the world for that matter) but possible patents protected specific manufacturer’s shutter designs. If he could buy into an established company then he could use their shutter design and incorporate it with early Yashima-Yashica designs. In May of 1958, an opportunity presented itself. Nicca Camera Company was apparently experiencing financial difficulties and may have been on the brink of bankruptcy. Nicca cameras were well known and well respected – they made high quality 35 mm rangefinder cameras with focal-plane shutters. They used Nikkor lenses with the L39 screw mount. Mr. Ushiyama was in a rush to purchase Nicca before they went belly up. Advisers cautioned to wait until Nicca went bankrupt arguing that they would be able to acquire it for a better price. Mr. Ushiyama knew that that outcome of a bankruptcy could take longer than he was willing to wait and there would certainly be more suitors to compete with. So the deal went through… sort of. As best as we can glean from our research, a “religionist” “admonished” Mr. Ushiyama for rushing into the deal and cautioned that Yashica itself would suffer a “decline” if all of the transfer were made immediately.

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Yashima-Yashica founder Mr. Yoshimasa Ushiyama.

OK, OK! We give!!! We share your feelings dear reader –  what’s the connection between Nicca and the Pentamatic? Taking the advice of the religionist, Mr. Ushiyama created a new company. Nicca would become Taiho Optical Company. Say what? Nicca wasn’t absorbed into Yashica in May of 1958, instead, they became another company that could continue to operate with Yashica but without becoming Yashica. Simple. Confused? Mr. Ushiyama listened to his adviser so nothing bad happened. It appears that the former Nicca employees were now free to develop new processes and designs with the financial and technical support of the much larger Yashica. What did Yashica get for its money? Plenty it would seem. Access to years of 35 mm rangefinder manufacturing experience and access to a proven focal-plane shutter. Important steps in building a 35 mm single-lens reflex camera. We don’t know (yet) which one of the two companies came up with the design of what would become the Pentamatic. Was it mostly a Yashica design that had been kicking around for a while lacking a focal-plane shutter, or was it mostly a Nicca design that lacked the financial means to bring it to market? We feel that it was more than likely a 60 – 40 split with Nicca as the 60%. Just a hunch, no facts at the moment.

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Pentamatic’s focal-plane shutter. Thanks to Nicca.

But what did the Taiho Optical Company make? Yashica didn’t make their own lenses, Tomioka Optical of Tokyo did. Was the former Nicca, now that it had become Taiho Optical, going to suddenly start making lenses? At the start of this blog, we mentioned that we were alerted to the existence of a 13.5 cm lens for sale with the Taiho Optical Company-Nicca Japan markings. Other than that, nothing.

So when did Mr. Ushiyama merge the two companies? He apparently listed to his adviser and waited eight long years before merging the two. From 1960 (when the Pentamatic was released) until 1968, when he not only made Yashica whole, but he also acquired long time lens supplier Tomioka Optical.

Now we know how the Pentamatic came to be and why it could be called the Nicca Pentamatic.

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Thanks for sticking with us. Comments? Likes?

Chris and Carol