The Prince Peerless is a Japanese 6.5×9 folding plate camera sold from 1934, probably by the distributor Fukada Shōkai, owner of the Prince brand name and of the P.C.W. logo found on an advertisement. Some modern sources attribute the camera to Fujimoto, which later manufactured the Semi Prince for Fukada, but this is unconfirmed.
(See the Prince page for a discussion of the various cameras with that name.)
Description of the body
The Prince Peerless is a copy of the Plan Primar, a German camera made by Bentzin. The metal body is very thin when folded, with a bulging folding bed. A nameplate is riveted inside, marked PRINCE PEERLESS and MADE IN JAPAN.
There is a swivelling brilliant finder attached to the front standard. This brilliant finder must be folded flat to fit in the very thin body, as appears in this page by Minosan. There is also a folding frame finder made of two parts: a wireframe attached to the lens standard and a simple pin articulated to the body. There is a handle on top of the body and the folding bed release is placed on the same side as the frame finder. There is a tripod screw on the opposite side and another one under the body.
Focusing is done by a small wheel on the right of the folding bed, with a focusing scale on the left. It seems that some limited vertical movement is available, and a spirit level is attached to the brilliant finder support.
The advertisement in the July 1935 issue of Asahi Camera says that the Prince Peerless was available from ¥78 in several versions, but it does not give a list. The last reported advertisement for the Prince Peerless is dated October 1936.
Actual examples have been observed with the following lens and shutter combinations:
- Schneider Radionar 10.5cm f/4.5 lens, Perfect shutter (1–200, B, T) by Neumann & Heilemann;
- Schneider Radionar 10.5cm f/4.5 lens, Compur shutter (T, B, 1–250).
Serial numbers for the Radionar lens are known in the 588xxx range.
- Release date: Lewis, p.48, where the camera is attributed to Fukada Shōkai and mistakenly called "Price Peerless". P.C.W. logo visible in the advertisement dated July 1935 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.90.
- Attribution to Fujimoto: Sugiyama, item 1227, McKeown, p.331.
- Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.90.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.340.
- Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1227, and example observed in an online auction. Combination also reported in Lewis, p.48, and in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.340.
- Example pictured in this page by Minosan, example pictured in Lewis, p.48, example observed in a Japanese website which is currently dead, and example observed in an online auction.
- Examples observed in online auctions.
- Combination reported in Lewis, p.48. One example has been observed in an online auction with a Tessar 12cm f/4.5 and a Compur, but the shutter has a Zeiss–Ikon plate screwed above the lens and an added ASA synch socket, and the lens and shutter unit is surely not original.
- 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 224.
- 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.48.
- 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). P.331.
- 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 1227.