Ehira

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Ehira was a Japanese camera maker before and after World War II, founded by Ehira Nobujirō (江平信次郎) and based in Yao, in the suburbs of Osaka.[1] (Most Japanese camera companies were in Tokyo, with the notable exception of Molta, then Chiyoda Kōgaku, predecessor of Minolta, in Osaka.)

Contents

History

Before founding his own company, Ehira Nobujirō worked for Molta. There he drew plans for a metal focal plane shutter, patented by the firm in November 1932.[2] It is said that he was also largely responsible of the innovative design of the Minolta Vest, a collapsible camera made of bakelite.[3]

Ehira Nobujirō founded Ehira Kōki (江平光機) in 1936.[4] The first product of the company was an accessory rangefinder, distributed by Yamamoto Shashinki-ten under its own Weha brand.[5] The earlier Weha products, such as the Weha plate folders, were not made by Ehira.[6]

The first camera made by Ehira was the Weha Chrome Six, notable for its coupled rangefinder device, inspired by the Super Ikonta and other Zeiss Ikon cameras. The earliest examples were perhaps made in Yamamoto's own workshop.[7] Ehira also made the Weha Six 6×6 folder and the Auto Rapid Ehira and Kōki TTSH shutters mounted on the two camera models. The last examples of the Weha Chrome Six have no mention of Weha and are called Ehira Chrome Six.

The full name of the company in the early period is not certain; in 1943 it was called Ehira Kōgaku Kikai Kōjō (江平光学精機工場, meaning Ehira Optics and Precision Plant).[8] The logo was Ehira K.S.K inside a doublet lens scheme.

During the war, Ehira worked as a subcontractor of Chiyoda Kōgaku on the Type 100 small aerial camera and on a film feeding device for a gun camera.

The company survived the war: in January 1946, Ehira was one of the 17 founding members of the Kōgaku Seiki Kōgyō Kyōkai (光学精機工業協会, Optical and Precision Instruments Manufacturers' Association).[9] It produced a small number of Weha Chrome Six and Ehira Chrome Six from the remaining stocks of parts.

In 1949, the company released the Ehira Six and Astoria Super Six coupled-rangefinder 6×6 folders, more directly copied from the Super Ikonta. At the time, its full name as appears in the advertisements was Ehira Kōki Seisakusho (江平光機製作所, meaning Ehira Optical Works).[10]

The production of the 6×6 folders was stopped around 1956,[11] and Ehira began to develop the Eltina 35mm camera, using a periscope system akin to that of the Periflex. The special focal-plane shutter of the Eltina caused much trouble, and the camera remained at an experimental level. Known examples have "Eltina Opt. Co. Ltd." engraved on the top housing, perhaps a new name for the Ehira company. Ehira also worked on a 35mm pentaprism SLR, perhaps called Eltinaflex, which remained unfinished.[12]

Ehira Nobujirō retired around 1959 and died in 1961, at the age of 69.[13]

Camera list

Other

  • Weha accessory rangefinder, chrome, long base, available in metres or in feet (sold ¥15 in 1936)[14]

Notes

  1. The address in 1943 was Ōsaka-fu Nakakawachi-gun Yao-chō Kozakai 148 (大阪府中河内郡八尾町小阪合148) and in 1949 it was Ōsaka-fu Yao-shi Kozakai 148 (大阪府八尾市小阪合一四八), the same address in the new administrative system. Source: "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras") and advertisement dated November 1949 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.121.
  2. Nakagawa, p.120. The patent number is S8-3457.
  3. Tanimura, p.32.
  4. Date: Tanimura, p.33.
  5. Weha rangefinder made by Ehira: Tanimura, p.33.
  6. McKeown, p.255, mistakenly attributes the Weha Light plate folder to Ehira.
  7. An October 1937 advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.59, mentions Yamamoto as the maker and distributor (製造発売元) of the Weha Chrome Six. Tanimura, p.33, however says that the Ehira plant was set up in 1936 and that the Ehira company produced the Weha Chrome Six from the start.
  8. Full name in 1943: "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras").
  9. Lewis, p.60; Tanimura, p.36.
  10. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.121.
  11. Date: Tanimura, p.38 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.51.
  12. Tanimura, p.39 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.51.
  13. Retired around 1959: Tanimura, p.39 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.51. Ehira Nobujirō's grandson (User:Ehira_Grandson) confirms that he was born in 1891 and died on January 12, 1961, at the age of 69, from the testimony of Nobujirō's daughter. Tanimura's article wrongly says that Nobujirō was born in 1910 and died in 1962 at the age of 71.
  14. Metres or feet: Tanimura, p.33. Price: advertisement published in Sunday Mainichi (December 13, 1936), reproduced in the Gochamaze website.

Bibliography

Links

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