The Beauty Six is a Japanese folding camera taking 6×6cm and 4.5×6cm exposures, made by Taiyōdō Kōki in 1953–4. It was preceded by an earlier Beauty Six, sold by the same company in mid-1950, which eventually became the Frank Six by Tōsei Kōki: see Frank Six for this previous model.
The 1953 Beauty Six has many similarities with the later Toyoca Six by Tougodo; the two cameras seem to share the same body casting and a few other parts. The Beauty Six is a horizontal folder, with three-part folding struts inspired from the 6×6 Ikonta. The viewfinder is contained in the middle of the top housing. The eyepiece frame rotates to switch the field of view from 6×6 to 4.5×6 format. The accessory shoe is to the left of the viewfinder, as seen by the photographer, and the folding bed release, which has a smooth wedge shape, is in front of it. The shutter release is at its usual location on the right.
The film is advanced by a knob at the left end of the top plate, containing a film reminder on a black background. There is a decorative flange at the opposite end, with a small leatherette patch. Part of the top housing is covered with leatherette too. The name Beauty and perhaps "MODEL I" is engraved between the viewfinder and the shutter release.
The back is hinged to the right and contains two red windows, placed one above the other and protected by a horizontally sliding cover. There is a small thumbwheel, with 16 EX and 12 EX indications, certainly moving an internal mask leaving only one of the two red windows open. (The back is shaped the same as on the Toyoca Six, and the position of the windows is similar, but the details of the window covers differ.) There are two hinged flaps inside the exposure chamber, providing a mask for 4.5×6cm exposures.
The shutter gives B, 1–200 speeds, has a self-timer and is synchronized. The lens is a front-cell focusing Doimer 8.0cm f/3.5, also inscribed T.K.K.
|Leaflet for the Beauty Six by Taiyōdō Kōki, c.1953. (Image rights)|
|Beauty Six in Shashin Kōgyō January 1955. (Image rights)|
The 1953 Beauty Six was announced in Japanese magazines dated October and November 1953, and was advertised from October 1953 to December 1954. The October 1953 advertisement in Shashin Salon says that the camera is a new model, and gives the price of ¥9,800 (case included). The shutter is described as "of the Prontor type" (プロンター型). The pictured camera has an angular lens standard, with a protrusion behind the synch socket, the same as observed on some Toyoca Six; it also has an ASA synch post. The January 1954 advertisement in the same magazine shows the same picture and the price, and gives yet fewer details.
The leaflet reproduced in this page also serves as an instruction manual. It presents the camera as the Beauty Six I (ビューティ・シックスⅠ型). The shutter is again described as "of the Prontor type". The document boasts the patented device to switch the viewfinder's field of view. It also mentions the ever-ready case, filters, and a flash gun as accessories.
One last mention of the camera is found in the January 1955 issue of Shashin Kōgyō, in a general artcile on Japanese cameras. In this document, the shutter is reported as an Etoile (エトワール), and the picture is the same as in the leaflet.
The 1953 Beauty Six is very uncommon today, and only two surviving examples have been observed so far. Both have a plain round lens standard and a PC synch socket, unlike the camera pictured in the advertisments. At least one of the two examples has the shutter name TKK (certainly for Taiyōdō Kōki) at the bottom of the speed rim.
- Undated leaflet by Taiyōdō reproduced in this page.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.360.
- Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.166.
- Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.167.
- Shashin Kōgyō no.31, p.66.
- Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1283, and example observed in an online auction.
- Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1283.
- 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 729. (See also the advertisement for item 735.)
- 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.83 (brief mention only).
- 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.114.
- Shashin Kōgyō no.31, January 1955. "Kokusan kamera sōran" (日本のカメラ全貌・二眼レフカメラ・スプリングカメラ, Panorama of Japanese cameras). P.66.
- 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 1283.
- Taiyōdō Kōki. Leaflet presenting the Beauty Six. Date not indicated. Document reproduced in this Flickr album by Rebollo_fr.