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Pearlette

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The Pearlette (パーレット) is a Japanese folding camera taking 4×6.5cm and 3×4cm exposures on 127 film, made by Konishiroku (predecessor of Konica) from 1925 to the early postwar period. The Pearlette is historically significant as the first mass-produced Japanese camera, with a monthly production of 200 to 300 in the early period.[1]

See also the Special Pearlette and B Pearlette which have nothing in common except for the name and format.

General description Edit

The Pearlette is a near-copy of the Piccolette by Contessa-Nettel, itself inspired by the Vest Pocket Kodak. The camera is easily recognized by the name Pearlette under the lens.

The front standard is mounted on a pair of scissor struts and extends to the bottom, acting as a standing leg. There is a round cut-off on each side of the body to pull out the front standard easily. A pivoting brilliant finder is mounted on one corner of the front plate. There are two tripod threads: one is at the bottom right, as seen by a photographer holding the camera vertically, and the other is on a strut joining the two sides of the trellis structure at the bottom. Most of the other features evolved during the camera's very long production run.

The regular models have a fixed-focus lens, either a simple meniscus achromat lens (usually US 8, i.e. f/11) or a triplet lens (f/6.8, later f/6.3). The shutter is a Woco by Wollensak or a Pegasus or Echo by Rokuoh-sha, depending on the year of production. All have three speeds: 1/25, 1/50 and 1/100. From 1936 onwards, the production of the Echo shutter was probably transferred to Yamamoto Kōjō, a subcontractor of Konishiroku.[2]

A special edition called the Luxury Pearlette was also offered for a short time with higher lens and shutter specifications.

First generation: side loading Edit

The first generation models have a removable side plate for film loading, and an advance key at the top left. They always display a logo on the front plate, opposite the brilliant finder, reading RK and ROKUOH SHA TOKYO. The body number is engraved on the inside part of the front plate, towards the bottom, reportedly with a NO. prefix.[3]

1925 and 1928 models: no wireframe, Wollensak lens and shutter Edit

The Pearlette was introduced in June 1925.[4] The original 1925 model is mainly recognized by the absence of a wireframe finder, the sliding button used to open the side, and the T setting.[5] The brilliant finder is of the folding type, and its front window has a thin rim surrounded by three small screws. There is a small hole on the front plate, next to the lens, whose purpose is unknown. The fixed body side is engraved PEARLETTE, and has a silver tripod attachment retained by three screws. The camera takes 4×6.5cm pictures only, and the back has a removable disc containing a single red window. The removable disc was used to clean or dismantle the lens, or to attach the camera to an enlarger, using it as an enlarging lens.[6] The scissor struts can be extended further by acting on a spring-loaded lever on the rear side of the front plate, at the bottom, allowing to take portrait pictures despite the fixed-focus lens.

The shutter is a N°0 Woco by Wollensak, marked N°0 WOCO above the lens and WOLLENSAK U.S.A. below. The speed is set by an index at the top, and the aperture scale is at the bottom. On the 1925 model, the available speeds are T, 25, 50, 100. The camera exists with a Deltas Aplanat 75/6.8 lens or with a meniscus achromat lens whose aperture runs from 8 to 64 in the Uniform Scale.

It is said that the lesser version was priced at ¥17, and the f/6.8 version was priced at ¥25.[7] (The advertisements dated 1925 or 1926 observed so far, including that in Ars Camera December 1926 reproduced here, do not mention the price.)[8]

Dedicated users club were founded for the Pearlette, continuing a trend initiated with the Minimum Idea. The Pearlette League (パーレット連盟) appeared in April 1926, some months after the camera's release, and the Pearlette Society (パーレット同人会) appeared in May 1930.[9]

The earliest cameras have a large rivet placed under the front logo, well visible on the drawings in the advertisements, and confirmed on an original example.[10] Very soon, this part was moved towards the bottom, to the side of the lens near the puller grip, perhaps reflecting a change in the underlying mechanism.

The 1928 model is defined by the T setting replacing the B setting, certainly a consequence of a change in the release mechanism with no internal change on the Woco shutter itself. It is said that the improvement in the shutter layout was first advertised in July.[11] The release lever was replaced by an inverted L-shaped button with a built-in cable release attachment, and a very small rivet appeared on the front plate, at the bottom part of the ROKUOH SHA logo. Transitional examples are known with superimposed T and B engravings, probably because stocks of shutter faces already engraved with the "T" were used until they ran out.[12] It is said that the front logo was very slightly enlarged at about the same time and that the front engravings became golden instead of silver-coloured.[13]

1929 and 1931 models: wireframe finder and close-up attachment Edit

The 1929 model[14] has a newer body with slightly larger dimensions.[15] It has a rectangular wireframe finder hinged to the front standard and containing a close-up lens in the middle, which stands in front of the taking lens when the wireframe is in the folded position. (The previous close-up device extending the scissor struts was removed.) The retractable eyepiece is hosted in the removable disc containing the red window, which is reportedly removed when turned by 90 degrees instead of 45 degrees.[16] The side latch consists of a pivoting lever instead of a sliding button. On the other side, the name is engraved in relief and the tripod attachment is black finished, with a single screw. The brilliant finder is rigid, with a thick rim around the front window and a chrome frame around the viewing lens. The release mechanism has been modified once again, with a cable release hole separate from the release button. Minor changes are visible on the front plate: the small hole on the side of the lens, the small rivet inside the logo and the three screws around the brilliant finder window have disappeared, and all the large rivets were replaced by screws, with that on the side of the lens moved upwards again.

The 1929 model was reportedly released in May.[17] The earliest advertisements known so far are in the May 1929 issue of Asahi Camera and in the June 1929 issue of Shashin Geppō.[18] They mention the new wireframe and close-up attachment, and the rigid brilliant finder. The price is unchanged, at ¥17 for the lesser model with MA lens, and ¥25 for the model with Deltas f/6.8 lens.

The 1931 model[19] was reportedly announced in June.[20] It is mainly recognized by the reinforced wireframe hinge, allowing to remove the frame. The camera sides have a flower pattern, with the name PEARLETTE engraved in relief on the tripod side. It is said that the front markings reverted to a silver instead of golden colour, and that the front logo was slightly modified.[21] It is also said that various parts were made of light alloy instead of brass, to make the camera lighter.[22] The same source says that the tripod attachment at the bottom of the trellis structure was modified during the production of this variant, surely for further lightening.[23]

1932 model: Pegasus shutter, Japanese lenses Edit

On the 1932 model,[24] reportedly released in August,[25] the imported lenses and shutters were replaced by Japanese equipment. The new Pegasus shutter, made by Rokuoh-sha, gives B, 25, 50, 100 speeds. The shutter plate has a mottled pattern, and is marked PEGASUS at the top and ROKUOH-SHA at the bottom.

An orange filter was added to the wireframe corner. It moves in front of the brilliant finder when the wireframe is closed, to prevent unintentional use of the close-up attachment. Minor changes are also reported in the flower pattern on the camera sides.[26]

At least two different lenses were offered. The expensive model, reportedly priced at ¥28,[27] has a Hexar Ser.II f/6.3, certainly a four-element lens made by Rokuoh-sha. The focal length is not mentioned on the front engraving, but it is certainly 75mm. The simpler model, whose price was unchanged at ¥17,[28] has a newer Meniscus Achromat lens, whose production was reportedly outsourced to Asahi Kōgaku (predecessor of Pentax).[29] The front bezel is removable, unlike on the previous models.[30] The aperture scale is graduated from 8 to 32, apparently in f-numbers. This might indicate a larger maximum aperture (f/8 instead of US 8), but the front bezel reportedly has an unchanged diameter.[31] One source mentions a third version with the Zion f/6.3 lens (same as on the 1933 model), but this is unconfirmed.[32] Some sources mention a colour edition of the 1932 Pearlette, but no surviving example has been observed so far.[33]

Second generation: hinged back Edit

The second generation models have fixed side plates and a hinged back. As seen by a photographer holding the camera vertically, the hinge is at the bottom, and the latch is at the top. The advance key has been replaced by a knob at the top right. The position of the tripod threads is unchanged. Because of the general change in the body size and in the position of the controls, the flower pattern on the sides was slightly altered. The body number is reportedly engraved behind the front plate with no prefix.[34]

All the second generation models are dual-format, allowing to take 3×4cm pictures via an exposure mask. The red window arrangement has been modified accordingly: the back now has three windows, contained in a non-removable disc, with a two-position switch selecting the appropriate red window covers — 1 for full-frame (4×6.5cm) or 2 for half-frame (3×4cm). The wireframe finder has additional indents to show the field of view for 3×4cm exposures.

It is said that the ever-ready case, with a moving front flap, was released together with the second generation models, from 1933 onwards.[35]

1933 model Edit

The 1933 model, reportedly released in May,[36] has a metal advance knob at a mottled shutter plate. It was first sold with the same Pegasus shutter as the 1932 model. The Hexar lens option was replaced by a Zion f/6.3, and the Meniscus Achromat lens retained the f/8 to f/32 aperture scale. There is sometimes a depth-of-field scale on the back, accordingly marked M.Achromat 7.5cm or Zion Anas't. 7.5cm, but this feature was absent on the earliest cameras.[37]

A colour edition of the 1933 model with Pegasus shutter, perhaps called Colour Pearlette (色パーレット), is known to exist with a maroon bellows, and a maroon body which tends to discolour with time.[38]

After a few months, the Pegasus shutter was renamed Echo, retaining the same mottled shutter plate. The Zion lens was simultaneously renamed Optor, and the depth-of-field was accordingly inscribed Optor Anas't 7.5cm. The production of the Optor lens was outsourced to Asahi Kōgaku[39] (this was perhaps already the case of the Zion). At the same time, the Meniscus Achromat lens went back to the US aperture scale, from 8 to 32. The maximum aperture is constrained by the diameter of the front bezel, and the actual lens diameter is larger.[40] It seems that many Pearlette owners drilled a larger hole, allowing to get past US 8, up to about f/8.[41] By removing an internal stop, it was even possible to open the lens to about f/6.3, presumably with an intense soft focus effect.[42]

Various changes occurred in the exposure chamber during the production of the 1933 model. All the cameras have a pressure plate attached inside the back. All the cameras with Pegasus shutter and some early cameras with Echo shutter have guide rollers permanently attached to the body, on either side of the exposure chamber. The late cameras with Echo shutter have a removable frame instead, containing the guide rollers at both ends. Very slight changes are also reported in the shape of the pressure plate and in the attachment of the 3×4cm exposure mask.[43]

Infinitesimal changes are also reported in the flower pattern on the camera sides, and in the sticker inside the back showing a box of Konishiroku's Sakura film.[44]

1935 model Edit

The 1935 model[45] is mainly recognized by its new shutter plate, plain black with a nickel rim, engraved Echo at the top and Rokuoh-sha at the bottom. The wireframe hinge has been reinforced once again, and is now attached by two screws. Infinitesimal changes are visible in the shape of the depth-of-field table. It also seems that the pattern of the crackled painting all around the body changed at the same time.[46]

The 1935 model normally has an advance knob made of black bakelite, with a flat top and a white arrow indicating the turning direction. (Some cameras are known with the metal advance knob of the 1933 model, perhaps as a result of a repair.)[47] The 1935 model usually has a new slitted insert inside the exposure chamber, working both as an exposure frame and as a pressure plate, and called "tunnel" (トンネル) by Japanese authors.[48] (Again some cameras are reported with the former removable frame and the separate pressure plate.)[49] Both the bakelite knob and the "tunnel" insert are mentioned as new features in the December 1935 issue of Asahi Camera.[50]

The 1935 model exists with the same Optor f/6.3 and Meniscus Achromat US 8 lenses as the previous model. It is said that the bezel of the meniscus lens is made of bakelite instead of metal, and has a reduced internal diameter.[51]

The advertisements in Kogata Camera February 1937 and in Asahi Camera April 1937 show pictures of the 1935 model, and list the two lens options at an unchanged price (¥17 and ¥28).[52]

1937 model Edit

The 1937 model[53] has a new finish, with nickel plating on the body edges. The flower pattern has disappeared from the side plates, replaced by black crackled paint. The tripod attachment on the camera side is nickel-finished instead of black. The shutter plate has a newer design, with a metal stripe on each side. The Optor lens normally has a nickel-plated bezel instead of the black bezel of the previous models. (These changes are parallel to those which occurred the same year on the Baby Pearl.)

Some examples have the same bakelite knob as the 1935 model, but most cameras have a newer knob, with a hollow top and a different shape. Some examples lack the depth-of-field plate, but this is not a general rule on the 1937 Pearlette.[54]

The lens options of the 1937 model were unchanged but the prices rose slightly, to ¥20 for the meniscus version, and ¥33 for the Optor version.[55] (This was perhaps a consequence of the new taxes levied after the outbreak of war with China.) The same prices appear in advertisements in Asahi Camera, Kogata Camera and Asahi Graph dated 1938 and 1939.[56] Some show a picture of the camera with the older bakelite knob, and that in Asahi Camera May 1939 shows an outdated picture of a woman holding a 1933 model. It is said that a fancy ever-ready case was offered with a compass at the top, for ¥2.80[57] — in March 1938, the price of the regular ever-ready case was ¥3.30.[58]

Luxury Pearlette Edit

The Luxury Pearlette[59] (高級パーレット, Kōkyū Pāretto)[60] is an upgraded version released in November 1937.[61] It normally has an Apus shutter (T, B, 25–100) with a thread and needle release, and a front-cell focusing Optor or Hexar Ser.1 f/4.5 lens.

The body is the same as on the regular 1937 model, with the newer bakelite knob and nickel-plated edges. The wireframe finder is replaced by a folding optical finder attached to the body side. The brilliant finder is removed and replaced by a metal plug, but a separate brilliant finder was offered as an accessory, at ¥1.60.[62] The arrangement of the back is modified, and is similar to that of more expensive Konishiroku models, such as the Baby Pearl, Semi Pearl or 6×9 Pearl, with two rectangular red windows in the back, protected by a sliding cover. A depth-of-field table is also riveted to the back.

At least two examples of the Luxury Pearlette are known with the same crackled paint finish as the regular Pearlette, with the Rokuoh-sha logo and Pearlette name engraved on the front plate.[63] They have no prongs in the viewfinder for 3×4cm exposures, and are probably extremely early. One of them has a metallic advance knob with a high profile, but this might be the result of a repair.[64]

All the other examples of the Luxury Pearlette have leather covering all over. It is embossed PEARLETTE at the bottom of the front plate, and ROKUOH-SHA on the back, near the hinge. There is no Rokuoh-sha logo at the front. Some examples — probably the early ones — lack the ability to frame 3×4cm exposures.[65] This was overcome on later examples by the addition of four prongs to the viewfinder's front frame.

The Luxury Pearlette was produced for a few years. It is described in the December 1937 issue of Asahi Camera.[66] Advertisements dated 1938 and 1939 in Asahi Camera and Kogata Camera list the Optor version for ¥45 and the Hexar version for ¥58,[67] and some show a picture of an example with leather covering and no prongs in the viewfinder, certainly equipped with a Hexar lens. The camera was perhaps sold a little longer, and probably corresponds to the Pearlette II and III mentioned in the January 1941 official price list (see below).

The book Pāretto no tsukaikata, on using the Pearlette, describes the Luxury model as the "Focusing Pearlette" (焦点調節式パーレット), and shows a presumably early camera.[68] Its folding finder has a different shape, looking a bit older than the standard part. No marking is visible on the front plate, and it is unclear whether it is leather-covered or not. The document mentions front-cell focusing Hexar f/4.5 or Optor f/6.3 lenses, but the latter is probably a mistake.

Finally, one isolated camera has been observed with an Echo shutter, a fixed-focus Optor f/6.3 lens, same as on the ordinary Pearlette, and a regular brilliant finder. All the other features are those of the Luxury Pearlette. The depth-of-field table on the back corresponds to the f/6.3 to f/32 aperture range, and differs from that mounted on the regular Pearlette. This camera was certainly originally produced by Konishiroku, but it is hard to understand how it would fit in the Pearlette range, between the regular f/6.3 model and the Luxury f/4.5 model.

1940 model Edit

The 1940 model[69] is easily recognized by the Pearlette name plate screwed to the front plate, under the lens, replacing the previous engraving. The Rokuoh-sha logo disappeared at the same time, and the depth-of-field table was completely suppressed on that model. The silver bezel of the Optor lens was replaced by a black bezel with a silver rim. At some time, nickel plating was replaced by chrome plating on all the metal parts — however it is unsure whether this change took place before or after 1945.

Very few examples of the 1940 model show a reversed configuration, with the advance knob and tripod thread on the left, as seen by the photographer holding the camera vertically: these simply correspond to cameras whose two side plates were swapped.[70]

The official list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941 has three models of the Pearlette: the "Pearlette I" (¥33), "Pearlette II" and "Pearlette III" (both at ¥45).[71] The model I is certainly the version with Optor f/6.3, whereas the models II and III surely correspond to the Luxury Pearlette. In the November 1941 price list, the models II and III are classified in separate price categories, probably to distinguish between the Optor f/4.5 and Hexar f/4.5 options.[72]

In May 1941, the Pearlette League was dissolved,[73] and the production of the camera came to a halt during World War II. The camera is still listed in the April 1943 government inquiry on Japanese camera production.[74] In this document, the f/6.3 version is called "Pearlette I", as in the official price lists, whereas the meniscus version is simply called "Pearlette". Contrary to common belief, the lenses are registered as made by Konishiroku, perhaps indicating that their manufacture was taken back from Asahi Kōgaku at some time.[75]

Postwar production Edit

The production was resumed after the war's end, certainly drawing on the stocks of parts. It is said that little more than 10,000 units were assembled in 1946 and 1947.[76] The price was set on 17 June 1946 by the Japanese Ministry of Finance, to ¥635 for the meniscus version, and ¥710 for the f/6.3 version.[77] In September 1947, it was ¥1,340 and ¥1,460 respectively.[78] A single advertisement is known, in Ars Camera October 1946.[79]

The postwar cameras are hard to distinguish from the 1940 model, and only some examples can be identified for sure, either because they have a plate inscribed MADE IN OCCUPIED JAPAN riveted to the back, or because they have a different Pearlette nameplate at the front, with a thin chrome frame and a slightly altered typefont,[80] a feature which is said to be found on postwar cameras only.[81]

Some cameras have a mix of nickel and chrome finished parts, or have the older bakelite knob normally found on the 1935 model.[82] It is also said that some cameras are found with the older engraved front plate, with the Pearlette engraving covered by the nameplate and the Rokuoh-sha logo filled with black paint.[83] All these cameras were probably assembled after 1945, when the company was using each and every available part.

The last known mention is in the December 1949 issue of Photo Art. It gives the price category as ¥5,000–10,000, and says that "the standard versions of the Pearlette used to have f/6.3 or f/8 (sic) lenses, but the new model has a sharp Hexar f/4.5".[84] This might be an allusion to a late attempt by Konishiroku to produce an upgraded Pearlette. However nothing else is known of this version, and the author of the article might have made a confusion with the earlier Luxury model.

Notes Edit

  1. Monthly production: Lewis, p.35.
  2. This page at R.Konishi Rokuoh-sha says this for the Rox "and other small shutters" by Rokuoh-sha. This probably includes the Echo.
  3. Kameari, pp.3, 6 and 12 of Camera Collectors' News no.11.
  4. June 1925: Asami, p.102 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4 and p.48 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  5. This model corresponds to Sugiyama's item 1135.
  6. The use as an enlarging lens is reported in Kameari, p.1 of Camera Collectors' News no.11, and in Asami, p.103 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4.
  7. Tables in Asami, p.103 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4 and p.49 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, and in Kameari, p.6 of Camera Collectors' News no.11.
  8. An advertisement reportedly dated July 1925 is reproduced in Kameari, p.2 of Camera Collectors' News no.11, and in Sakai, p.11 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10. That reproduced in Asami, p.48 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, is probably dated 1925 too.
  9. Asami, p.102 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4.
  10. Example pictured in this page at R.Konishi Rokuoh-sha.
  11. Asami, p.103 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4 and p.48 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  12. See the pictures in this page at R.Konishi Rokuoh-sha.
  13. Asami, p.103 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4 and p.48 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  14. This model corresponds to Sugiyama's item 1136.
  15. Larger dimensions: Kameari, p.1 of Camera Collectors' News no.11.
  16. Turned by 90 degrees instead of 45 degrees: Asami, p.103 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  17. Asami, p.103 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4 and p.49 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  18. Advertisement in Asahi Camera May 1929, p.A1, and advertisement in Shashin Geppō June 1929 reproduced in this page at R.Konishi Rokuoh-Sha. See also the advertisement in Shashin Geppō December 1930 reproduced in this page at R.Konishi Rokuoh-Sha.
  19. This model corresponds to Sugiyama's item 1137.
  20. Asami, p.104 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4 and p.49 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  21. Asami, p.104 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4 and p.49 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  22. Asami, p.49 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  23. Asami, pp.104 and 106 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4 and p.49 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  24. This model corresponds to Sugiyama's item 1138.
  25. Asami, p.49 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  26. Asami, pp.103–4 and 107 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4, and p.49 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10. (The pictures on p.107 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4 do not show any obvious difference.)
  27. Lewis, p.49, Asami, pp.103–4 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4, and p.49 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, and Kameari, p.6 of Camera Collectors' News no.11.
  28. Lewis, p.49, Asami, p.103 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4, and p.49 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  29. Sakai, p.12 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10; Asami, p.104 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4, and p.49 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10; Lewis, p.182.
  30. Asami, p.103–4 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4, and p.49 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  31. 7.2mm diameter: Asami, p.103 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4, and p.49 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  32. Kameari, pp.3 and 6 of Camera Collectors' News no.11. This page at Nagoya's Camera Club mentions the Zion lens in the features table, and the Hexar lens in the main text — the features table contains mistakes in the shutter type and model year, and looks unreliable.
  33. Lewis, p.49, Kamera no ayumi, p.115, Kameari, pp.3 and 7 of Camera Collectors' News no.11.
  34. Asami, p.105 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4 and p.50 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, and Kameari, pp.3, 6 and 12 of Camera Collectors' News no.11.
  35. Kameari, pp.3 and 6 of Camera Collectors' News no.11.
  36. Asami, p.104 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4 and p.50 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  37. Zion depth-of-field scale: examples pictured in Kameari, Camera Collectors' News no.11, and in this page at Aho Ressha Pictorial, and observed in online auctions. No depth-of-field scale: reports in Asami, pp.103 and 105 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4 and pp.49–50 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, and example observed in an online auction.
  38. Examples pictured in Lewis, p.49, in Kamera no ayumi, p.115, in Asami, p.51 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, and in this page at Nagoya's Camera Club. This page at Nagoya's Camera Club says that the colour finish — probably meaning the leather covering — tended to discolour with time. The picture does not allow to distinguish the original colour of the leather covering.
  39. Sakai, p.12 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10; Asami, p.105 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4 and p.50 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10; Lewis, p.182.
  40. Kameari, p.3 of Camera Collectors' News no.11.
  41. Kameari, p.4 of Camera Collectors' News no.11, Asami, p.105 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4 and p.50 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10. Some sources give contradictory accounts of the front bezel diameter: the tables in Asami's articles imply that the diameter was enlarged from 1933 to 1935 only, and this page at R.Konishi Rokuoh-sha says the same for the 1935 to 1937 period. This is probably based on measurements taken on particular examples, and the diameter might vary from an example to the other: Kameari, p.4 of Camera Collectors' News no.11, reports that he owns examples of the 1933 and 1940 model with an unusually large diameter.
  42. Kameari, p.3 of Camera Collectors' News no.11, Asami, p.105 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4 and p.50 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  43. These changes are illustrated in Asami, p.107 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4.
  44. These changes are illustrated in Asami, p.107 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4.
  45. This model corresponds to Sugiyama's items 1139 and 1140.
  46. Kameari, pp.3 and 12 of Camera Collectors' News no.11.
  47. Metal advance knob: example pictured in Sakai, p.11 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, and examples observed in online auctions.
  48. Kameari in Camera Collectors' News no.11, Asami in Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4 and 10.
  49. Asami, p.50 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  50. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.338.
  51. Asami, pp.103 and 105 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4, and pp.49–50 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  52. Advertisements reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.82 and 103.
  53. This model corresponds to Sugiyama's item 1144.
  54. Asami, p.105 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4 and p.51 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, says that the 1937 Pearlette has no depth-of-field table except for some examples which were modified by their owner. However many cameras do have the table properly attached on the back by two rivets, and this looks like an original feature.
  55. Kameari, p.6 of Camera Collectors' News no.11, Asami, p.103 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4 and p.49 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  56. Advertisements reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.82, and advertisement in Asahi Graph, 23 March 1938, reproduced at Gochamaze.
  57. Kameari, pp.4 and 6 of Camera Collectors' News no.11.
  58. Advertisement in Asahi Graph, 23 March 1938, reproduced at Gochamaze.
  59. This model corresponds to Sugiyama's items 1141 and 1142.
  60. The Japanese name is confirmed by the advertisement reproduced in Asami, p.52 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10. The translation "Luxury Pearlette" is arbitrary, and previous versions of this page had the equally arbitrary "High-Grade Pearlette" instead.
  61. Date: Asami, p.52 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  62. Advertisement reproduced in Asami, p.52 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  63. Example pictured in Asami, p.52 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10 (body no.5048, lens no.2568), and example pictured in this page at Junk Binbō.
  64. Example pictured in Asami, p.52 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  65. Example pictured in Asami, p.52 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, and example pictured in the advertisements reproduced in the same source and in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.82.
  66. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.338.
  67. Advertisements reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.82. See also the advertisement reproduced in Asami, p.52 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  68. Page reproduced here at R.Konishi Rokuoh-sha.
  69. This model corresponds to Sugiyama's item 1146 (whose lens bezel is missing).
  70. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1145, and example offered for sale by a Chinese dealer. It looks like the side plates are attached by two screws each, positioned the same on either side.
  71. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 2, sections 3 and 6A.
  72. "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō", November 1941, type 2, sections 6A and 6B.
  73. Asami, p.51 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  74. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), items 178–9.
  75. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), lens items Ld1 and Ld2.
  76. Miyazaki, pp.13 and 183. Asami, p.51 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, says that only about 15 units were assembled per month, but this is probably vastly underrated, and Miyazaki's estimate is surely more reliable. (Examples marked MADE IN OCCUPIED JAPAN occasionally come out on today's market.)
  77. See full reference in the page on Japanese prices. The same information is found in Asami, p.106 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4, and partly in Lewis, p.60.
  78. Asami, p.106 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4.
  79. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.358.
  80. This nameplate is visible on Sugiyama's item 1382.
  81. The newer nameplate is described as a typical feature of the postwar Pearlette in Kameari, pp.5 and 7 of Camera Collectors' News no.11, and in Asami, p.106 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.4 and p.51 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  82. Example pictured in this page at Medfmt.
  83. Asami, p.51 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, says that these cameras are found with a serial number in the 15xxxx to 17xxxx range. One example has been observed in an online auction with chrome plating and what might be the imprint of the Rokuoh-sha logo, filled with black paint.
  84. Photo Art December 1949, p.36: このカメラのスタンダード型は六・三と八の二種であったが、新型では鮮鋭ヘキサーF四・五が付いている.

Bibliography Edit

Original documents Edit

  • Ars Camera. Advertisement by Konishiroku Honten in December 1926. No page number.
  • Asahi Camera. Advertisement by Konishiroku Honten in May 1929, p.A1.
  • "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō" (カメラの公定価格官報発表, Official announcement of the set prices of the cameras), November 1941. Extract of a table listing Japanese camera production and setting the retail prices, reproduced in "Bebī Semi Fāsuto 'Kore ha bebī wo nanotta semi-ki da'" (ベビーセミファースト"これはベビーを名乗ったセミ機だ", Baby Semi First, 'this is a Semi camera called Baby'), an article by Furukawa Yasuo (古川保男) in Camera Collectors' News no. 277 (July 2000). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha. P. 27. Type 2. Sections 6A and 6B.
  • "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" (国産写真機ノ現状調査, Inquiry into Japanese cameras), listing Japanese camera production as of April 1943. Reproduced in Supuringu kamera de ikou: Zen 69 kishu no shōkai to tsukaikata (スプリングカメラでいこう: 全69機種の紹介と使い方, Let's try spring cameras: Presentation and use of 69 machines). Tokyo: Shashinkogyo Syuppan-sha, 2004. ISBN 4-87956-072-3. Pp.180–7. Items 178–9.
  • "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku" (国産写真機の公定価格, Set prices of the Japanese cameras), listing Japanese camera production as of October 25, 1940 and setting the retail prices from December 10, 1940. Published in Asahi Camera January 1941 and reproduced in Shōwa 10—40nen kōkoku ni miru kokusan kamera no rekishi (昭和10〜40年広告にみる国産カメラの歴史, Japanese camera history as seen in advertisements, 1935—1965). Tokyo: Asahi Shinbunsha, 1994. ISBN 4-02-330312-7. Pp.108—9. Type 2. Sections 3 and 6A.
  • Photo Art December 1949. "Ōru kokusan kamera" (オール国産カメラ, All of Japanese cameras). Pp.34–41.

Not seen:

  • Matsumura Shisui (松山思水). Yoku utsuru Pāretto shashinjutsu (よく写るパーレツト写真術). Tokyo: Kinseidō, 1934.
  • Nakajima Kenkichi (中島謙吉). Vesutan Pāretto no tsukaikata (ヴェス単パーレットの使ひ方). Tokyo: Kōdaisha, 1938.

Recent sources Edit

Links Edit

In English:

In Japanese:


Konishiroku prewar and wartime cameras (edit)
plate hand cameras stereo hand cameras strut folders box telephoto SLR
Idea (original) | Idea A | Idea B | Idea Snap | Idea No.1 | Idea (metal) | Lily (original) | Lily (horizontal) | Lily (metal) | Tropical Lily | Noble | Ohca | Sakura Palace | Sakura Pocket Prano | Sakura Prano Idea Binocular | Sakura Binocular Prano Minimum Idea | Idea Spring | Korok Champion | Cherry | Sakura Army | Sakura Honor | Sakura Navy Idea Telephoto Idea Reflex (1910 and 1911) | Idea Reflex (1932) | Neat Reflex | Sakura Reflex Prano
rollfilm folders box or collapsible TLR
Pearlette | Special Pearlette | B Pearlette | Pearl (for plates and rollfilm) | Pearl No.2 | Pearl (Year 8) | Baby Pearl | Semi Pearl | Sakura Palace Record | Sakura (box) | Sakura (bakelite) Sakura-flex

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