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First Roll

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Japanese older 6×9 (edit)
folding First Center | First Roll | Kinka Roll | Lyra (6×9) | Pearl No.3 | Pearl No.2 | Year-Eight Pearl | Reex | Royal Junior
box Dox | Sakura (box)
3×4 and 4×4, 4×5 and 4×6.5, 4.5×6, 6×6 and plate ->
Modern 6×9 RF and SLR ->

The First Roll (ファーストロール) is a Japanese 6×9cm folding camera, advertised by First Camera Works or Minagawa Shōten from 1933 to 1936 and probably sold until the war.[1] It was certainly made by Kuribayashi.[2]

Description of the body Edit

The First Roll is a vertical folding camera taking both 6×9 and 4.5×6 exposures. It is not self erecting and the lens standard needs to be manually pulled out after opening. There is a focusing scale on the left of the folding bed but no focusing control is visible: it seems that the camera is focused by manually moving the lens standard back and forth. The U-shaped lens standard and the focusing rails are similar to the corresponding parts on the First plate folder, as is pointed out by Baird.[3] The focal length is always 105mm.

There is a brilliant finder and a folding wireframe finder including an inner frame for half-format exposures. The eyepiece can be retracted by pivoting along the back.

The advance key is at the bottom right (as seen by a photographer holding the camera horizontally) and there are tripod threads both under the body and under the folding bed. The back is hinged to the left and the back latch is covered by a leather handle. There are two red windows near the top of the back, protected by sliding covers. Variations have been observed in the shape of these covers.

The name Roll is inscribed on the standing leg.

Evolution in the advertisements Edit

It seems that the First Roll was initially offered with German lenses and shutters. According to Lewis, the camera was offered in 1933 with a Vario shutter and a Trinar f/6.3 lens for ¥30 and with a Trinar f/4.5 lens for ¥45.[4] Baird also mentions Radionar and Tessar f/4.5 lenses mounted on Compur shutters.[5]

The camera was advertised in Asahi Camera February 1934 in two versions:[6]

Advertisements in Asahi Camera dated May and July 1935 show the following range:[7]

The September 1935 advertisement in the same magazine adds a version with a Simlar f/4.5 four-element lens by Tōkyō Kōgaku and a Seikosha shutter (1–250, self-timer), priced at ¥105.[8] It is sometimes said that this version was called "First Roll Deluxe", but this is not confirmed by the advertisement.[9]

The last known advertisements are dated October 1936.[10] However, the First Roll still appears in the official list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941, in two versions called "First Roll I" (¥45) and "First Roll II" (¥56), with no further detail.[11]

Actual examples Edit

The versions with Magna shutter and either Toko f/6.3 or State f/4.5 lens have been observed on repeated occasions.[12] The Magna shutter gives 25, 50, 100, B, T speeds selected by a small wheel at the top. It also has a simple thread-and-pin self-timer device. The shutter plate is marked MAGNA in the speed dial, SEIKOSHA at the bottom and has the SKS logo at the top right. The Toko f/6.3 lens has the Tōkyō Kōgaku logo and is engraved Tokyo Kogaku TOKO–Anastigmat 1:6.3 F=10.5cm Nr.xxxx or simply Toko–Anastigmat 1:6.3 F=10.5cm Nr.xxxx.[13] The State f/4.5 lens has State–Anastigmat 1:4.5 F=10.5cm Nr.xxxxx and the Tōkyō Kōgaku logo; it seems that the early ones have a black rim and the late ones have a silver rim.[14]

One example of the First Roll with Simlar f/4.5 lens and Seikosha shutter is pictured in Sugiyama.[15] The shutter gives T, B, 1–250 speeds; the shutter plate is inscribed SEIKOSHA–TOKYO at the top and SEIKOSHA again at the bottom. This particular example is missing the wireframe finder.

The other observed lens and shutter combinations are as follows:

Notes Edit

  1. The 1933 release date is given by Baird, pp.17 and 63–4 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras, Sugiyama, items 1044–5, McKeown, p.576 and Lewis, p.50. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.339, lists advertisements dated 1934 to 1936. Baird, p.65 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras, says that the camera was still made in 1937. The First Roll was still listed in the official price list compiled in October 1940.
  2. Baird, pp.17–9 and 63–5 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras, p.73 of The Japanese Camera; McKeown, p.576. No original document has been found to confirm this.
  3. Baird, p.64 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras.
  4. Lewis, p.50.
  5. Baird, p.65 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras.
  6. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.85.
  7. May 1935: advertisement reproduced in Baird, p.17 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras. July 1935: advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.72.
  8. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.85.
  9. "First Roll Deluxe": Sugiyama, item 1045; Baird, p.65 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras. Baird says that this version was released in 1937, but this is a mistake.
  10. October 1936 supplement to Camera Club, second cover. The last advertisement listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.339, is in Asahi Camera of the same month.
  11. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 6, sections 1 and 2.
  12. Toko f/6.3 lens: examples pictured in Baird, p.63 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras, in Sugiyama, item 1044, sold as lot no.658 of Westlicht auction no.6, as lot no.777 of Westlicht auction no.15, and observed in an online auction. — State f/4.5 lens: examples pictured in pictured in this page of the AJCC website, sold as lot no.659 of Westlicht auction no.6, and observed in an online auction. — The example pictured in Baird, p.73 of The Japanese Camera, is reported to have a Toko Anastigmat 10.5cm f/4.5, but this lens certainly does not exist and the camera certainly has a State f/4.5 instead.
  13. Tokyo Kogaku TOKO–Anastigmat: example observed in an online auction (lens no.1431). Toko–Anastigmat: example pictured in Baird, p.63 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras, and perhaps example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1044.
  14. Black rim: example sold as lot no.659 of Westlicht auction no.6 (lens no.5477). Silver rim: example pictured in this page of the AJCC website (lens no.13543), and example observed in an online auction (lens no.136x3).
  15. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1045.
  16. Example observed in an online auction with lens no.9722.
  17. Example pictured in Baird, p.65 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras.

Bibliography Edit

Links Edit

In English:

  • Past sales by Westlicht:
    • First Roll (Magna, Toko f/6.3) and First Roll (Magna, State f/4.5), lots no.658–9 of auction no.6 (November 6, 2004)
    • First Roll (Seikosha, Toko f/6.3), lot no.777 of auction no.15 (May 23, 2009)

In Japanese:

Kuribayashi prewar and wartime cameras (edit)
rollfilm folders
Eagle | Speed Pocket | First Roll | First Center | Semi First | First Six | Baby Semi First | Semi Rotte | Hokoku | Mizuho
plate folders rigid SLR TLR unknown
Mikuni | First | First Etui | Kokka | Romax | Tokiwa Molby Speed Reflex First Reflex Baby First

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