Hope and Myracle
The Hope and Myracle are subminiature cameras made by Sugaya in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
There is an advance knob at the top left, as seen by the photographer, and a red window in the back. All the models have the same fixed-focus Hope Anastigmat f/4.5 lens and the same shutter. The latter, giving B, 25, 50, 100 speeds, is wound by a lever on the left and tripped by another lever on the right; the speed index is pointing at about one o'clock, as seen from the front.
It seems that the cameras were called Hope for the Japanese market and Myracle for export to the United States.Most, if not all, Myracle cameras have markings indicating that they were made for the distributor Mycro Camera Co., Inc. based in New York. Little information is available on these cameras and the chronological order adopted below, while plausible, is conjectural only.
First generation models, top loading
On the first generation models, the whole top plate comes out of the body for film loading, together with the film holders and exposure chamber. This unit is locked into place by a sliding button on the bottom plate, with O and L indications (for Open and Lock). The bottom plate also has a tripod thread in the middle and large circular humps at both ends. The red window is uncovered and surrounded by a metal frame, and the spring-loaded pressure plate is a separate part, which is easily lost. All the first generation models have the same rounded top housing, containing the viewfinder and extending to the right end of the top plate.
On all the first generation models, the shutter plate is plain silver, with the name SUGAYA MODEL II engraved at the bottom, certainly the shutter name, and a thin line engraved around the lens. The aperture is set by an index at the top of the shutter casing. The lens rim is silver with an unfilled HOPE Anastigmat 1:4.5 engraving. (A similar lens and shutter assembly appears on a Mycro camera pictured in this page at submin.com, at the bottom; this is probably not an original fitting but rather the result of some repair or experiment.)
From September 1949 to February 1950, the camera was advertised as the Hope (ホープ) in the Japanese magazine Kohga Gekkan. The September 1949 advertisement shows a picture of a first generation camera, but does not show the top engraving; the maker's name is given as Sugaya Seikō, and the camera is presented together with the Rubix for 16mm film. The Myracle is mentioned in in an article of the the April 1950 issue of the same magazine, where it is attributed to Sugaya Kōki, perhaps the new name of the company; it seems that it was not advertised in Japan.
Surviving examples of the first generation model are known with the name MYRACLE MODEL I or MYRACLE MODEL II engraved at the top, above the viewfinder. It seems that all of these are engraved MADE FOR MYCRO CAMERA CO. INC. N.Y. on the bottom plate.
The only camera reported so far as a Myracle Model I is pictured in this page at Submin.com. (The pictures are not extremely clear, and there is a slight possibility that the camera is actually engraved MODEL II.) It has green leatherette covering, and it is embossed MADE IN OCCUPIED JAPAN in the back.
|Early Myracle Model II.|
Picture by Steve Chatfield. (Image rights)
The early Myracle Model II is identical to the Model I described above, and exists with black or blue covering. Some examples have a ring added around the aperture index. The example pictured above has black filled markings on the shutter plate, unlike most other cameras. Another example with blue covering is known with black filled markings and an additional engraving on the top housing, probably reading MADE FOR MYCRO CAMERA COMPANY — it is not known if the corresponding engraving also appears at the bottom. An anomalous example with no aperture ring and no diaphragm is pictured in another source. Finally, a black example, lacking the additional ring around the aperture index, has been observed with the newer shutter plate and lens rim described below for the late version.
One of the above cameras comes with its leather case and original box. The case is embossed DIST. BY Mycro CAMERA CO. INC. N.Y. N.Y. at the front, and the box is marked MYRACLE MODEL II Mycro CAMERA CO., INC., N.Y.C. COMPLETE WITH LEATHER CASE. Another camera has been pictured together with a box sporting the label of Sanwa Shōkai, further hinting to a connection with the distributor of the Mycro.
Second generation models, hinged back
The second generation models have a completely different construction with a hinged back and a fixed pressure plate. The red window has a sliding cover and the back latch consists of a bar sliding upwards; these parts were clearly copied from the late New Midget II, released in October 1949. The bottom plate still has a tripod thread, but the two humps and the opening button have disappeared.
Late Myracle Model II
|Late Myracle Model II, green.|
Picture by Rick Soloway. (Image rights)
The late Myracle Model II has the same rounded top housing as on the early model, engraved MYRACLE MODEL II above the viewfinder. It seems that the bottom plate has MADE FOR MYCRO CAMERA CO. INC. N.Y. N.Y. and MADE IN JAPAN or MADE IN OCCUPIED JAPAN on all the cameras.
This model also has a new type of shutter plate and lens rim. The shutter plate has a black background and metal stripes on each side of the lens; it is inscribed Myracle at the top and SUGAYA OPTICAL CO. LTD. at the bottom. The lens rim is black with white HOPE Anastigmat 1:4.5 markings.
Second generation Hope
In McKeown, the Hope is said to be similar to the late hinged-back Myracle but with the plain SUGAYA MODEL II shutter plate and the name HOPE engraved at the top. It reportedly exists with black or blue leatherette covering. The existence of this version is unconfirmed.
Third generation Hope, copy of the Midget
The presumably late Hope has a modified top housing, with a new styling blatantly copied on the New Midget II. It is engraved HOPE and SUGAYA OPTICAL.CO.LTD. above the viewfinder. From a distance, the most obvious difference with the Midget is that the Hope is lacking the accessory grip at the right end of the top casing. At close inspection, differences in the advance knob, top casing, back latch or red window cover reveal that the camera is indeed a copy and not an original Midget body with a fancy engraving and a different lens and shutter unit.
The shutter plate is the older one with SUGAYA MODEL II at the bottom, and the engravings are black-filled. The lens rim is the older silver type with unfilled markings, and the aperture index is set by a plain index with no additional ring.
The ever-ready case is made of brown leather and has a HOPE logo embossed at the front.
Very few examples of the late Hope have been observed, presenting no visible variation.
- Separate pressure plate visible on the early Myracle Model II pictured in this page at submin.com.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.364.
- Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.180.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.370.
- Example pictured in this page at submin.com (part of the specifications given in the page are wrong).
- Examples pictured in Pritchard, p.79, sold as lot no.455 of Westlicht Photographica Auction no.1 (see link below), and pictured here, here and here at submin.com.
- Example pictured in McKeown, p.907.
- Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 5097.
- Example pictured in McKeown, p.907.
- Example pictured in this page at submin.com.
- Example pictured in Pritchard, p.79.
- Examples pictured in this page, in Sugiyama, item 5096, here, here and here at submin.com, and here at Gary Sivertsen's website.
- McKeown, p.907.
- Text-only description in McKeown, p.906.
- McKeown, p.906.
- Case pictured in this page at submin.com.
- Examples pictured in Pritchard, p.76, in this page at submin.com (at the top), and in this page by Masaharu Saito (among other Sugaya cameras).
- 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. Items 818 and 954.
- 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). Pp.906–7.
- Pritchard, Michael and St. Denny, Douglas. Spy Cameras — A century of detective and subminiature cameras. London: Classic Collection Publications, 1993. ISBN 1-874485-00-3. P.76.
- 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 5096–7.
- Hope and Myracle at Submin.com
- Myracle Model II (early, turquoise), lot no.455 of Westlicht Photographica Auction no.1 (15 November 2002)
- Myracle Model II (late, green) among other subminiature cameras at the Subminiature site of Gary Sivertsen