First Center

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Japanese older 6×9 (edit)
folding First Center | First Roll | Kinka Roll | Lyra (6×9) | Pearl No.3 | Pearl No.2 | Year-Eight Pearl | Reex | Royal Junior
box Dox | Sakura (box)
3×4 and 4×4, 4×5 and 4×6.5, 4.5×6, 6×6 and plate ->
Modern 6×9 RF and SLR ->

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.[1]

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.

Evolution, lens and shutter equipment

The First Center was first announced in the new products column of the January 1937 issue of Asahi Camera, but some sources say that it was released in 1936.[2]

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.[3]

The August 1937 advertisement in Asahi Camera shows the following range:[4]

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.[5]

Few surviving examples of the First Center are found today. The following combinations have been observed so far:

The State lens is engraved State 1:4,5 f=10,5cm Tokyo Kogaku Nr.xxxxx and has the Tōkyō Kōgaku logo.


  1. Baird; McKeown, p.577. No original document has been found to confirm this.
  2. 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.
  3. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.88.
  4. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.87. The Rulex shutter name is not explicitly mentioned but it appears in the pictures.
  5. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 6, sections 2 and 4.
  6. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1047, Baird, p.94, McKeown, p.577.
  7. 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.
  8. Example observed in an online auction.


Kuribayashi prewar and wartime cameras (edit)
rollfilm folders
Eagle | Speed Pocket | First Roll | First Center | Semi First | First Six | Baby Semi First | Semi Rotte | Hokoku | Mizuho
plate folders rigid SLR TLR unknown
Mikuni | First | First Etui | Kokka | Romax | Tokiwa Molby Speed Reflex First Reflex Baby First