The First Center (ファーストセンター) is a Japanese 6×9cm folding camera, sold by First Camera Works or Minagawa Shōten from 1936 or 1937 to the early 1940s. It was certainly made by Kuribayashi, as the rest of the First range.
Description of the body
The First Center is a vertical folding camera taking both 6×9 and 4.5×6 exposures. It is self erecting and has folding struts inspired from the Balda products. It appears to be a close copy of the Balda Gloria, Glorina or Pontina 6×9 folder. The name FIRST-CENTER is embossed in the front leather.
There is a folding optical finder and a brilliant finder attached to the lens standard. The focal length is always 105mm. The advance knob is at the bottom right, as seen by a photographer holding the camera horizontally. The back is hinged to the left and the back latch is covered by a leather handle. There are two red windows near the top of the back.
|First Center, from catalog of the First Camera Works.|
image by Petri@wiki (Image rights)
Evolution, lens and shutter equipment
The April 1937 advertisement in Camera Club offers the camera with a Toko lens by Tōkyō Kōgaku and a Magna shutter by Seikōsha, in two versions with f/6.3 and f/4.5 maximal aperture respectively costing ¥38 and ¥45.
- State f/4.5 lens by Tōkyō Kōgaku, Magna shutter (¥45);
- First f/4.5 lens, Rulex B shutter (¥55);
- First f/4.5 lens, Rulex A shutter (¥62).
The First Center still appears in the official list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941, in two versions called "First Center I" (¥56) and "First Center II" (¥103) with no further detail.
Few surviving examples of the First Center are found today. The following combinations have been observed so far:
- State f/4.5 lens, Seikosha shutter (T, B, 1–250);
- State f/4.5 lens, Magna shutter (25–100, B, T);
- f/4.5 lens by Tōkyō Kōgaku (certainly a State), Rulex A shutter (1–200, B, T).
The State lens is engraved State 1:4,5 f=10,5cm Tokyo Kogaku Nr.xxxxx and has the Tōkyō Kōgaku logo.
- Baird; McKeown, p.577. No original document has been found to confirm this.
- The 1936 release date is given by Baird, pp.19 and 94–5, Sugiyama, item 1047 and McKeown, p.577. The column in Asahi Camera January 1937 is the earliest document listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.340.
- Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.88.
- Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.87. The Rulex shutter name is not explicitly mentioned but it appears in the pictures.
- "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 6, sections 2 and 4.
- Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1047, Baird, p.94, McKeown, p.577.
- Example pictured in Tanaka, p.76 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8 (with an accessory shoe, probably not original), and example observed in an online auction.
- Example observed in an online auction.
- 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 208. (See also the advertisements for items 211.)
- Baird, John R. Collectors guide to Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras. Grantsburg, WI (USA): Centennial Photo Service, 1991. ISBN 0-931838-16-9. Pp.19 and 94–5.
- "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 6, sections 2 and 4.
- 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.50 (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.577.
- 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 1047.
- Tanaka Masao (田中政雄). "Sonota no nihon no supuringu-kamera" (その他の日本のスプリングカメラ, "Other Japanese folding cameras"). Kamera Rebyū: Kurashikku Kamera Senka (カメラレビュー クラシックカメラ専科) / Camera Review: All about Historical Cameras no.8, September 1986. No ISBN number. Supuringu kamera (スプリングカメラ, special issue on spring cameras). Pp.76–80.
|Kuribayashi prewar and wartime cameras ( )|
|Eagle | Speed Pocket | First Roll | First Center | Semi First | First Six | Baby Semi First | Semi Rotte | Hokoku | Mizuho|
|Mikuni | First | First Etui | Kokka | Romax | Tokiwa||Molby||Speed Reflex||First Reflex||Baby First|