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Mulber (3×4)

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The Mulber (マルバカメラ) is a 3×4 Japanese camera, distributed by Kuwata Shōkai from 1936 to 1939.[1] (Some advertisements also mention "Mulber Camera Works", but this was certainly a dummy name, as other names ending in Camera Works.)

Description Edit

The Mulber has a bakelite body and a telescopic tube supporting the lens and shutter assembly.[2] The name is molded in the bakelite at the front of the body, as Mulber or MULBER. There is a tubular optical finder in the middle of the top plate, and the advance knob is at the left end, as seen by the photographer. There is a button or knob to the right of the viewfinder, perhaps used to close the camera body after film loading. The telescopic tube is pulled out after a slight rotation to the left;[3] this arrangement was protected by a patent.[4]

The lens is a fixed-focus Mulber 50mm f/6.3, specially designed for the camera.[5] The shutter is everset and gives B, 25, 50 speeds. The release lever is directly attached to the shutter casing, and there is a thread on the side for a cable release. The shutter plate has the name MULBER in fancy letters at the top, MULBER CAMERA WORKS under the lens, and a hexagonal KKS logo on the right. (These "KKS" initials are found on various other products sold by Kuwata.)

Commercial life Edit

The Mulber was first advertised in Asahi Camera from March to September 1936.[6] These advertisements list the camera at ¥15 (case ¥3.50 extra).[7] The March advertisement has no company name in Japanese characters, only "Murber Camera Works", obviously a typo for "Mulber Camera Works".[8] This is probably a dummy name (see Camera Works), and no address is provided. The documents dated April and July to September mention the distributor Kuwata Shōkai instead.

All the advertisements discussed above display a Mulber logo, and give the name of the camera as "Mulber Camera" (マルバカメラ). They all show the same picture of an early camera with lens no.1021.[9] It seems that the picture was heavily retouched. It curiously shows no f/6.3 setting on the aperture scale, only 8, 10, 12, 15 — perhaps because it was erased by mistake. The name at the front of the camera appears as MULBER in capital letters.

The undated leaflet reproduced above was certainly published at that period.[10] It shows the name "Mulber Camera Works", and the stamp of a retailer. The picture of the camera is the same as in the above advertisements. Another picture shows the leather case, with the Mulber logo embossed at the front, hanging over the shoulder of an elegant woman.

The Mulber was also featured as a new product in the April 1936 issue of Asahi Camera;[11] the column is quite terse and shows no picture.

After an interruption of almost two years, the Mulber was advertised again in the August 1938 to March 1939 issues of Asahi Camera.[12] The advertisements dated September 1938 and January 1939, reproduced above, were placed by Kuwata Shōkai and show the camera together with the Mulber Six.[13] They show a picture of a different camera; the Mulber name molded at the front is now shaped as the Mulber logo appearing in various documents. The price is lower, at ¥10 (case ¥2.50 extra).

No surviving example of the Mulber seems to have surfaced yet.

Notes Edit

  1. Dates: Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.341.
  2. Bakelite body: leaflet for the Mulber camera by "Mulber Camera Works", c.1936, reproduced in this page, and column in Asahi Camera April 1936, p.671.
  3. Column in Asahi Camera April 1936, p.671.
  4. Patent filed for the telescopic tube: leaflet for the Mulber camera by "Mulber Camera Works", c.1936, reproduced in this page, and column in Asahi Camera April 1936, p.671.
  5. Specially designed: leaflet for the Mulber camera by "Mulber Camera Works", c.1936, reproduced in this page.
  6. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.341.
  7. Advertisements in Asahi Camera March 1936, p.A27, April 1936, p.A26, July 1936, p.A44, August 1936, p.A48, and September 1936, p.A56. That dated March is reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.95.
  8. There are other typos in the lens name, spelled アルバ in March and コルバ in April instead of マルバ.
  9. Advertisements in Asahi Camera March 1936, p.A27, April 1936, p.A26, July 1936, p.A44, August 1936, p.A48, and September 1936, p.A56.
  10. Leaflet for the Mulber camera by "Mulber Camera Works", c.1936.
  11. Column in Asahi Camera April 1936, p.671.
  12. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.341.
  13. Advertisements in Asahi Camera September 1938, p.A36, and January 1939, p.A27.

Bibliography Edit

Original documents Edit

  • Asahi Camera April 1936. "Atarashii kikai to zairyō" (新しい機械と材料, New equipment and machinery). P.671.
  • Asahi Camera. Advertisement by "Murber Camera Works" (certainly Kuwata Shōkai) in March 1936, p.A27.
  • Asahi Camera. Advertisements by Kuwata Shōkai:
    • April 1936, p.A26;
    • July 1936, p.A44;
    • August 1936, p.A48;
    • September 1936, p.A56;
    • September 1938, p.A36;
    • January 1939, p.A27.
  • "Mulber Camera Works". Leaflet for the Mulber camera. Date not indicated. Document reproduced in this Flickr album by Rebollo_fr.

Recent sources Edit

This camera is not listed in Sugiyama.

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