Gotex and Poppy Six
The Gotex (ゴーテックス) is a Japanese 6×6 folder made by Kigawa from 1941 to the end of the war, and later by Shin Nippon Kōgyō. The Poppy Six is an evolution of the Gotex. The line was later continued by the Minon Six.
The Gotex is a horizontal folder, with three-part folding struts similar to those of the Ikonta. The top housing contains both an eye-level finder in the middle and a brilliant finder offset to the right, as seen by the photographer. The body release is to the right of the brilliant finder, and the accessory shoe and folding bed release are to the left of the eye-level finder. There are strap lugs at both extremities of the top plate, and the film is advanced by a key at the left end. The back is hinged to the right and the back latch consists of a long sliding bar. There is a single red window in the middle of the back, protected by a horizontally sliding cover.
Wartime unit-focusing Gotex, with KSK logo
The early Gotex have helical unit focusing, moving the lens and shutter assembly together. The camera is mentioned in the official list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941, for ¥160. The same document also has the "Tsubasa Six I" (¥79), "Tsubasa Six" (¥89), "Tsubasa Six II" (¥94) and "Tsubasa Six IV" (¥110). These were obviously made by Kigawa, but it is not known if they were related to the Gotex. A similar price list dated November 1941 again has the Gotex, attributed to its distributor Nichiei Shōkai.
The Gotex was advertised in Japanese magazines from December 1941. The January 1942 advertisement in Shashin Bunka says that the lens is an Erinar Anastigmat 75/3.5 and the shutter a Kiko Compur (キコー・コンパー) giving T, B, 1–300 speeds. The price is given as ¥187. The picture shows a plain circular lens standard. The October 1942 advertisement in the same magazine shows a square chrome-plated lens standard, perhaps adopted to protect the focusing lever. The price and features are the same.
An advertisement dated February 1944 shows the Gotex with unit focusing, together with the Kiko Semi. The main picture again shows a camera with a circular lens standard. The lens is the Erinar Anastigmat f/3.5, and another picture shows lens no.60693, probably on a Gotex. It is unclear whether the shutter is the Kiko Compur (1–300) or the Kiko Rapid (1–500), and it seems that the price is ¥214.42.
Three examples of the unit focusing Gotex have been observed with the square chrome-plated lens standard. The name GŌTEX is embossed on the front leather. The top housing has a large KSK logo engraved above the eye-level finder, presumably for Kigawa Seimitsu Kōgaku. The words TOKYO JAPAN and KIGAWA KŌGAKU are inscribed underneath, together with the body serial number. The large KSK logo is repeated in the leather of the folding bed and at the front of the leather case. The folding struts and red window cover also have a logo, certainly reading KIKO TSUBASA.
Two of these examples have a Rapid-Kiko shutter, giving T, B, 1–500 speeds and engraved RAPID–KIKO at the bottom of the speed setting rim. They have the lens marking Kikō Anastigmat Erinar 1:3.5 f=7.5cm N°xxxxx and a lens number in the 62xxx range, associated to a body number in the 12xx range in one case. The third example has the presumably later lens marking KIKO Anastigmat Erinar 1:3.5 f=7.5cm N°xxxxx.
Postwar Gotex, with SNK logo
The Kigawa company became Shin Nippon Kōgyō, certainly when it was refounded after 1945. An advertisement dated April 1948 presents the Gotex as made by Shin Nippon Kōgyō. The features are the same as in the wartime advertisements: Erinar Anastigmat lens and Kiko Compur (キコーコンパー) shutter.
|Postwar Gotex, Erinar Anastigmat 75mm f/3.5 lens no.101611. Picture courtesy of Pacific Rim Camera. (Image rights)|
On the camera, the markings on the top housing were replaced by a large SNK logo and the words TOKYO JAPAN and SHIN NIPPON written underneath. The lens marking became Erinar Anastigmat 1:3.5 f=75mm, eliminating the word "Kiko", and the GOTEX embossing disappeared from the front leather around the same time. It however seems that the logo on the folding struts and red window cover remained KIKO TSUBASA for some time. Nothing on the camera itself identifies it as a Gotex, but the commercial name was unchanged, as is demonstrated by the April 1948 advertisement. Today, some sources refer to the camera as the "SNK".
One example of the unit-focusing Gotex reportedly has an SNK engraving on the top housing. It has a black painted square lens standard. It certainly has the Erinar Anastigmat lens marking and the KIKO TSUBASA logos.
Unit focusing was abandoned at some point, and most of the Gotex made by Shin Nippon Kōgyō have a front-cell focusing lens and a plain circular lens standard. This move was perhaps caused by a shortage of materials. Two examples are known with a six-digit lens number in the 101xxx range and an unmarked shutter certainly giving T, B, 5–200 speeds. They reportedly have KIKO TSUBASA logos.
One example, pictured in this page, is known with SNK TOKYO logos on the folding struts and red window cover. It has an NKS shutter (B, 1–200) with no flash synchronization, engraved NKS at the bottom of the speed rim, and an Erinar Anastigmat lens with four-digit no.1066. The aperture is setting by a dented part, the same as on the Poppy Six but without the control wheel. This example is presumably a very late Gotex, made just before the switch to the Poppy Six.
|Postwar Gotex, Erinar Anastigmat 75mm f/3.5 lens no.1066, NKS shutter, SNK TOKYO logos.|
Pictures courtesy of Craig Supplee. (Image rights)
Possible name variants
McKeown has various entries which might correspond to name variants of the Gotex. The "Kiko 6", attributed to no particular company, is described as having helical focusing and a Rapid Kiko shutter (1–500), but its format is not mentioned. The "Tsubasa 6×6", attributed to Kigawa has a Kiko Erinar 75mm f/3.5 lens and dual finders under a polished-chrome top housing. These models might be misidentified postwar Gotex with the KIKO TSUBASA logos, or might be related to the Tsubasa Six listed in the January 1941 price list.
The "Grace Six" is a 6×6 folder attributed to Daitoh, surely by mistake. The description mentions dual eye level and waist level finders, a chrome top plate and a unit focusing Erinar Anastigmat 75/3.5. No picture is provided but the camera is surely a name variant or an evolution of the Gotex. The name "Grace" was also used by Kigawa on the Graceflex.
The Poppy Six
The camera pictured in McKeown as a Poppy Six is indistinguishable from the front-cell focusing Gotex. It has an Erinar Anastigmat 75mm f/3.5 lens with six-digit number 103421. It is attributed to "Shin Nippon", presumably because of the markings on the top housing.
The Poppy Six II has a new heavier top housing, with an advance knob instead of the key. The window of the brilliant finder is round instead of square. The lens standard is chrome-plated and has a square top with rounded corners. There is a small wheel attached to the top right corner, as seen by the photographer, engaging the dented aperture ring.
The example pictured in Sugiyama has a POPPY II logo attached to the front leather, reminiscent of the logo found on the Poppy subminiature. It seems that the name POPPY is also engraved above the eye-level finder. The accessory shoe is made of sheet metal, the same as on the previous models. The shutter is an NKS (B, 1–200, self-timer), synchronized via two pins at the bottom. The lens is an Erinar Anastigmat f/3.5 with a four-digit number, perhaps 1005.
Another example of the Poppy Six II is known with a heavier diecast accessory shoe. It has the name POPPY engraved on the top housing and embossed in the leather of the folding bed. The name is also embossed in the back leather, certainly as POPPY SIX. The SNK TOKYO logo is engraved on the folding struts, and perhaps also on the red window cover. The shutter is the same synchronized NKS as on the previous example, with two pins at the bottom. The lens is an Eria Anastigmat 75mm f/3.5, with four-digit number 2696 and the name Eria engraved in red.
The Gotex and Poppy Six line was continued as the Minon Six. The original Minon Six, or Minon Six I, is indistinguishable from the late Poppy Six II with Eria Anastigmat lens, but for the engraving on the top housing.
- "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 3, section 7B.
- "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 4, sections 3, 4, 5A, 6A.
- "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō", November 1941, type 3, section 7B.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.336.
- Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.68.
- Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.71.
- "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), item 95, lens item Lb16, shutter item 18-R-3.
- Advertisement on the third cover of Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin, February 15, 1944, reproduced on p.77 of Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku.
- The columns listing the features of the Kiko Semi and Gotex are probably mismatched, as is indicated by the given format, and the Kiko Rapid (1–500) shutter perhaps applies to the Kiko Semi. The prices are probably at the right place, and the Gotex is presumably more expensive than the Kiko Semi.
- Advertisement on the third cover of Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin, April 20, 1948, reproduced on p.85 of Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku.
- The shutter speeds are given as 1–130, obviously a misprint for 1–300.
- McKeown, p.897, lists the camera as a "folding rollfilm camera" by "SNK Camera Works".
- Example observed in an online auction.
- Example pictured in this page (lens no.101611), and example observed in an online auction (lens no.101995).
- McKeown, p.465.
- McKeown, p.464.
- McKeown, p.240. Daitoh made inexpensive cameras including one called Grace, a name variant of the Ponix. This is probably the source of the confusion.
- McKeown, p.890.
- Sugiyama, item 1404.
- 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 75. (See also the advertisement for item 101.)
- "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 3, section 7B.
- "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. Item 95.
- "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 3, section 7B; type 4, sections 3, 4, 5A, 6A.
- 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.240, 464–5, 890 and 897.
- Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin (日本写真興業通信). Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku (百号ごと十回の記録, Ten records, every hundred issues). Tokyo: Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin Sha (日本写真興業通信社), 1967. No ISBN number. Advertisement on p.77, corresponding to the third cover of the February 15, 1944 issue, and on p.85, corresponding to the third cover of the April 20, 1948 issue.
- 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. Item 1404.