Cooky 35 and Robin 35
|Cooky 35 in Photo Art December 1949. (Image rights)|
The Cooky 35 (クッキー35) and Robin 35 are Japanese viewfinder cameras for 35mm film, noted for their small size. The Cooky 35 was made by Kashiwa Seikō in 1949–50. The Robin 35 appeared as a name variant, with engravings pointing to a Hokuto Co. (either a distributor or a new name for the maker), then evolved as the Robin 35 MII.
See also the other cameras called Robin.
The Cooky 35 and Robin 35
The Cooky 35 and Robin 35 take fifty 24×26mm exposures on standard perforated 35mm film in regular cassettes. The viewfinder is on the middle of the top plate, in a small casing extending to the right, as seen by the photographer.
The back comes off together with the bottom plate for film loading. The film cartridge is loaded into the right-hand compartment, and there is a large pressure plate hinged to the bottom of the main body. The advance knob is at the top left, covered by a patch of leatherette. A lever is visible on the rear, next to the viewfinder eyepiece, probably for manual unlock of the film advance after each exposure. The exposure counter is made of two discs: a smaller one graduated from 0 to 5, for tens, and a larger one from 0 to 9, for digits. These are placed above the casing on the viewfinder's right, next to the shutter release.
There is a lever next to the advance knob, to the left of the viewfinder, with a letter R engraved nearby, most probably a rewind switch. The camera has no dedicated rewind knob, but there is not enough internal room for a take-up film cartridge, and it seems that the advance knob is used for rewind too. The details of how this is achieved are unclear, but a contemporary description mentions a new pattern for film advance and rewind.
The leaf shutter is placed behind the lens and cocked by a lever on the left. The speeds are selected by an index at the top, with 100, 50, 25 positions, and by another index at the bottom right, switching between Bulb and Instant. The lens is fixed and front-cell focusing. On the Cooky 35, it is either a Cooky Runer Anastigmat 40mm f/2.8 or a Cooky Zephyr Anastigmat 40mm f/3.5. The Robin 35 has a Robiner Anastigmat 40mm f/3.5, presumably a renamed Zephyr. The aperture is adjustable to 22 by turning a ring around the barrel (at least on the Cooky 35 with Runer).
The Cooky 35 is identified by the name COOKY 35 engraved above the viewfinder, together with the mention PATENT KASHIWASEIKO. The brown leather case also has the name COOKY 35 embossed at the front. The Robin 35 has the name Robin 35 at the top, together with the company name Hokuto Co. No body number is visible on either camera.
Commercial life and known examples
|Column in Photo Art December 1949. (Image rights)||Advertisement in the same issue. (Image rights)|
The Cooky 35 was advertised and featured in Japanese magazines from July 1949 to March 1950. The December 1949 advertisement in Photo Art mentions the Zephyr f/3.5 lens only, and gives no price. The pictured camera accordingly has the Zephyr f/3.5, with lens no.1006x. A column in the same issue of the magazine shows a different example of the camera, perhaps having lens no.1000x.
Of the actual examples of the Cooky 35 observed so far, four have the Runer f/2.8 lens (no.10090, 10153, 10370 and 10520), and three have the Zephyr f/3.5 (no.10127, 10313 and 10397), showing slight differences in the lens barrel. The three surviving examples of the Robin 35 known so far have lens no.10036, 10037 and 10092. They are exactly similar to the Cooky with Zephyr, except for the Robin 35 and Robiner Anastigmat markings.
It is likely that the lens numbers started at 10001 and ran in a same sequence for all the lenses. This would indicate that the Robin 35 and Cooky 35 were made simultaneously, perhaps for different distributors. It seems that only a few examples were made, surely little more than 500.
The Robin 35 MII
The camera has a number of differences from the previous model. The picture size is now 24×28mm, and the viewfinder is slightly enlarged. The top casing has sharp edges and extends under the advance knob as well. The top of the advance knob has a bright metal finish, and the switch on the side seems modified. The exposure counter consists of a single disc contained inside the top casing and visible through a crescent-shaped window. An accessory shoe is added above the viewfinder. The name is engraved in front of the shoe, certainly Robin 35 M II, and the company name HOKUTO CO. appears behind the exposure counter window.
The body's right edge is slightly modified, perhaps indicating that the back is now hinged. Two film flanges appear under the bottom plate, which were absent from the Cooky 35 and Robin 35.
The leaf shutter is larger and has a more classical look, with B, 10–200 speeds selected by turning the rim, engraved H.K.T. at the bottom. The lens is a Robiner Anastigmat 40mm f/3.5 again. The example pictured in Sugiyama has lens no.3040, obviously numbered in a different sequence than the lenses of the previous models. Another camera has been reported with lens no.3045.
- Japanese spelling: documents in Photo Art December 1949, pp.39 and 42, reproduced in this page. Sugiyama, item 3223, says in the Japanese text that the name was spelled クッケィ, perhaps a variant appearing in another original document.
- Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.135.
- Column in Photo Art December 1949, p.39, reproduced in this page: フィルム捲返し装置は本機の新考案.
- Case observed in an online auction.
- Advertisement in Photo Art December 1949, p.42, reproduced in this page and in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.135. The lens name is spelled ゼファー.
- Column in Photo Art December 1949, p.39, reproduced in this page.
- observed in an online auction 2014 & 2023
- No.10090 observed in an online auction; no.10127 pictured in Pritchard, p.50; no.10153 pictured in Sugiyama, item 3223; no.10370 observed in an online auction; no.10520 pictured in Lewis, p.66, and in this page of the Center of the History of Japanese Industrial Technology.
- No.10036 pictured in McKeown, p.392; no.10037 pictured in Sugiyama, item 3734; no.10092 pictured in this page.
- Sugiyama, item 3735.
- Example reported in the talk page of this article.
- Asahi Camera (アサヒカメラ) editorial staff. 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. Item 491.
- Lewis, Gordon, ed. The History of the Japanese Camera. Rochester, N.Y.: George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography & Film, 1991. ISBN 0-935398-17-1 (paper), 0-935398-16-3 (hard). P.66.
- McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover). Pp.392 and 456.
- Photo Art. Advertisement by Kashiwa Seikō in December 1949 (p.42).
- Photo Art December 1949. "Ōru kokusan kamera" (オール国産カメラ, All of Japanese cameras). Pp.34–41.
- Pritchard, Michael and St. Denny, Douglas. Spy Cameras — A century of detective and subminiature cameras. London: Classic Collection Publications, 1993. ISBN 1-874485-00-3. Pp.49–50.
- Sugiyama, Kōichi (杉山浩一); Naoi, Hiroaki (直井浩明); Bullock, John R. The Collector's Guide to Japanese Cameras. 国産カメラ図鑑 (Kokusan kamera zukan). Tokyo: Asahi Sonorama, 1985. ISBN 4-257-03187-5. Items 3223 and 3734–5.