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Clover-Six and Vester-Six

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Japanese Six (6×6)
Prewar and wartime models (edit)
folding
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unknown
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Postwar models ->
Japanese 6×6 TLR, pseudo TLR and medium format SLR ->
Japanese Semi (4.5×6) and older 6×9 ->

The Clover-Six (クロバーシックス) and Vester-Six (ベスターシックス) are Japanese 6×6 folding cameras, made from 1937 to 1944.

Origin Edit

The Clover-Six and Vester-Six were certainly manufactured by Ginrei. The Clover-Six was distributed by Hagi Kōgyō Bōeki, and the similar Vester-Six was perhaps sold by Ginrei itself. The Ginrei origin is confirmed by the GRC acronym engraved on the folding struts, typical of the company's products, and by a mention in a February 1944 advertisement saying that Ginrei was the "manufacturer of Clover cameras".[1] A December 1937 advertisement for the Clover-Six says that Hagi was the "manufacturer and distributor", but this is unlikely.[2] The Venner lenses and Vester shutters were made by Ginrei too.[3]

General description Edit

The Clover-Six and Vester-Six are horizontal folders. The viewfinder is contained in a short housing that also supports the accessory shoe. The advance knob is at the left end of the top plate, and there is usually another knob at the right end. The advance knob has three rows of knurls and an arrow engraved on the top. The back is hinged to the right and film advance is controlled by red window. The folding struts are engraved GRC.

The Clover-Six Edit

The Clover-Six is marked CLOVER-SIX in front of the viewfinder housing and the name Clover Six is also embossed in the leather of the folding bed.

Original Clover-Six, Clover-Six 1 and 2 Edit

The Clover-Six appeared at the end of 1937.[4] The original model has no body release and has a brilliant finder attached to the shutter housing. It is said that there are three red windows in the back.[5] An advertisement dated December 1937[6] offered this version for ¥68 with a Venner 78/4.5 lens and a Vester 1 shutter (10–200, T, B). The shutter plate is black and is marked GRC Co at the top and VESTER 1 at the bottom. The right knob seems to be decorative only and has a smooth rim.

A transition model is pictured with no body release and no brilliant finder in the Omoide no supuringu-kamera-ten exhibition catalogue.[7] It has the Vester 1 shutter and an Anastigmat Venner 80mm f/4.5 lens.

The regular model appeared in mid 1938, with an added body release.[8] The right knob has a knurled rim and the back has a single red window in the middle, protected by a horizontally sliding cover.

The shutter is the same Vester 1 as on the previous model. The shutter plate has similar markings but the speed scale is sometimes chrome instead of black. An advertisement dated June 1939[9] only called the camera "Clover-Six" and listed two variants:

  • Venner f/4.5 lens (¥85);
  • Venner f/3.5 lens, newly available (¥98).

Some sources say that the original model was called "Clover-Six 1" and the regular model "Clover-Six 2", but this does not appear in the advertisements.[10] The list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941, mentioned the Clover-Six in a number of versions: "Clover-Six I" (¥79), "Clover-Six II" (¥94), "Clover-Six III" (¥128), "Clover-Six IV" and "Clover-Six B" (¥160 each), with no further details.[11] The III, IV and B correspond to the models described below, and it is likely that the I and II correspond to the f/4.5 and f/3.5 versions of the regular model (with 10–200 shutter).

The Clover-Six 3, 4 and B Edit

The Clover-Six 3, 4 and B were advertised between 1941 and 1943.[12] At the right end of the top plate, the decorative knob has been replaced by a depth-of-field dial, even if at least one camera has been observed with no dial at all, perhaps because it came loose.[13] An advertisement dated April 1942[14] gives the following characteristics:

  • Clover-Six 3: f/4.5 lens, 1–200 shutter (¥129);
  • Clover-Six 4: f/3.5 lens, 1–200 shutter (¥151);
  • Clover-Six B: f/3.5 lens, 1–200 shutter, self-timer (¥163).

The self-timer equipped shutter is an Orient made by Tōyō Kōki and the others are Vester shutters.[15] On these, the shutter plate is metal and is marked GINREI KOHKI at the top.

It is said that the f/4.5 lens has 78mm focal length.[16] For the f/3.5 models, the lens engraving was modified during the camera production and the focal length was pushed from 75mm to 80mm, perhaps because of an insufficient coverage.[17] On actual examples of the Clover-Six 4 and Clover-Six B, two types of lens engraving have been observed, in chronological order:

  • Venner Anastigmat 1:3.5 F=75mm N°xxxxx, with lens number in the 36xxx and 37xxx range;[18]
  • G.R.C. Venner N°xxxxx F=80mm 1:3.5, with lens number in the 39xxx to 41xxx range.[19]

Another example of the Clover-Six 4 has been observed with an 80mm f/3.5 lens engraved N.L.K. Venner N°26217, perhaps provided by a different supplier.[20] It is probable that the transitional marking Venner G.R.C. 1:3.5 F=80mm N°xxxxx found on a Vester-Six also exists on examples of the Clover-Six, but it has not yet been observed.

The versions with the Venner 80/3.5 lens and either a Vester III (T, B, 1–200) or an Orient A shutter (T, B, 1–200, self-timer) were still mentioned in the April 1943 government inquiry on Japanese camera production.[21] The name of the manufacturer is unfortunately missing from the document.

The Vester-Six Edit

The Vester-Six is identical to the Clover-Six 3, 4 and B, with a depth-of-field dial on the right end of the top plate. The only difference is that a metal plate engraved VESTER-SIX is screwed to the front of the finder housing and that VESTER-SIX is embossed in the back leather.

No advertisement for the Vester-Six has been found yet. The actual examples observed of the Vester-Six have a Vester 3 shutter giving T, B, 1–200 speeds. The shutter plate is marked GINREI KOHKI at the top and Vester .3 or VESTER .3 at the bottom, with a logo on the right. Three types of lens engraving have been observed, in chronological order:

  • Venner Anastigmat 1:3.5 F=75mm N°xxxxx, with lens number in the 36xxx range;[22]
  • Venner G.R.C. 1:3.5 F=80mm N°xxxxx, with lens number in the 37xxx range;[23]
  • G.R.C. Venner N°xxxxx F=80mm 1:3.5, with lens number in the 38xxx to 42xxx range.[24]

Notes Edit

  1. クロバーカメラ製造元: advertisement on p.12 of Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin, February 15, 1944, reproduced on p.76 of Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku.
  2. 製造発売元: advertisement in Asahi Camera reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.69.
  3. Made by Ginrei: "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), lens item M2, shutter item 18-P-2. The names Venner and Vester appear on various other Ginrei products, sometimes in direct conjunction with the company name.
  4. The first advertisement listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.336, is dated December 1937.
  5. Three red windows: Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.336.
  6. Advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.69.
  7. Omoide no supuringu-kamera-ten, p.16.
  8. Date: Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.336.
  9. Advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.69.
  10. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.336, and this page of the AJCC.
  11. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 4, sections 3, 4, 5B and 6B.
  12. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.336.
  13. Example observed in an online auction.
  14. Advertisement published in Hōdō Shashin, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.69.
  15. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.336, and Sugiyama, item 1034, say that the self-timer equipped shutter is an "Oriental" (オリエンタル), but this is invalidated by the "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), shutter item 18-P-23.
  16. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.336.
  17. The Venner 75/3.5 and 80/3.5 are listed separately in the "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras") (lens items Lb4 and M2), so the lenses actually differ and this is not merely a matter of engraving.
  18. Examples observed in online auctions.
  19. Examples pictured in Sugiyama, item 1034 (lens no.40x07), and in this page of the AJCC, and observed in online auctions.
  20. Example observed in an online auction.
  21. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), items 96–7, lens item M2, shutter items 18-P-2 and 18-P-23.
  22. Example pictured in McKeown, p.345.
  23. Example observed in an online auction.
  24. Examples pictured in this page at Japan Family Camera, in this post at a Chinese forum, for sale at a Chinese dealer and in online auctions.

Bibliography Edit

Links Edit

In Japanese:

In Chinese:

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