The Jeicy is a Japanese Leica copy, made in the 1950s in very small quantities by Kumagai Genji, certainly as a single-person business. Only two examples are known to survive. They are identified on the top cover as made by Jeicy Camera Works, but this name did not correspond to an actual company.
Description of Jeicy no.21459
The description corresponds to the better known example, with serial number 21459, of which various pictures are available.
The camera has an integral top housing, as introduced by Leitz on the Leica IIIc. It also has an opening back, and certainly a diecast body shell. The dimensions of the body are 142×70×31mm, and the weight is 530g.
Controls and viewfinder
The position of the controls — advance knob, exposure counter, release button, rewind lever, speed dial and rewind knob — is similar to that of the Leica models. The eyepieces of the viewfinder and rangefinder are somewhat distant, and the rangefinder eyepiece has a diopter correction lever, the same configuration as the Leica IIIa. The rangefinder windows are spaced by 38mm, and the magnification is 1.5× for an effective base length of 60mm.
Unique film reminder
The small step under the rewind knob is surrounded by a film reminding lever, looking like the diopter correction lever of the Leica IIIc. It has the following positions: Special, ASA 25, 50 or 100, and COLOR D or T. The rewind knob can be pulled up, and reveals a nut locking the film reminder in position. This system is certainly not very convenient, and is more likely found on an experimental camera than on a commercial model.
A Jeicy logo is engraved in the top cover, above the viewfinder, together with the Jeicy Camera Works marking. The serial number is engraved in front of the accessory shoe: N°21459.
The camera has a focal plane shutter with horizontally travelling curtains, as on the Leica models. The main speed dial has B, 20–1, 30, 40, 60, 100, 200, 500, 1000 positions, moving along an index on the accessory shoe. There is a slow speed dial at the front, with the following positions: T, 1, 2, 4, 8, X and 20. The camera is synchronized for flash, with two PC sockets at the front, certainly for FP and X synchronization.
The back is hinged to the right, as seen by the photographer. It is retained by a sliding bar on the left. The hinge attached by six apparent screws and the rather heavy latch look typical of an experimental model. There is a raised rectangular zone on the back, surrounded by a chrome frame, similar to the black frame found on the Ichicon-35 and early Honor. The bottom plate is fixed, and has two tripod threads, on the right and on the left, another unusual feature.
The camera has a standard Leica screw mount. In the available pictures, no.21459 has a Super Rokkor 45mm f/2.8 lens (no.1407446) made by Chiyoda Kōgaku Seikō (predecessor of Minolta), as normally found on the Minolta 35. It is not known if that lens was attached on the Jeicy from the start, or added by a later owner.
Other Jeicy example
The only other example of the Jeicy known so far was still the property of Kumagai Genji at the end of the 1970s. A single small picture is available, taken from the rear. The camera looks very similar to no.21459, but for a detachable back. Kumagai related that this feature was explicitly requested by some individual, perhaps a prospective customer. The back is retained by a latch on the left, looking the same as that of the other camera, and is perhaps engaged into a groove on the right. It has the same rectangular frame as on the camera described above. The camera is said to have the Jeicy Camera Works marking and 1/1000 top speed too.
Relation to the Ichicon-35 and Honor S1
Kumagai Genji, maker of the Jeicy, told in an interview that he brought one of his Leica-like designs to Daiichi Kōgaku before the company closed its doors; it seems that a handful of cameras were built by Daiichi as the Ichicon-35. Kumagai also told that the camera was then rescued by someone else and sold as the Honor S1, without noticing him (see Honor S1).
In the same interview, the Jeicy was presented as Kumagai's last attempt at camera production. At least one author suggests that it was the original camera brought to Daiichi, but this is not certain. It might instead correspond to a further development of the Ichicon project, using various parts salvaged after Daiichi's failure, perhaps in the hope of starting independent production, before it was outstripped by the maker of the Honor S1.
From the available pictures, it appears that the top cover of the Jeicy is exactly the same as that of the Ichicon-35 and early Honor S1. Notable features found on the three cameras are the curvature of the top cover around the speed dial, shallower than on the Leica, the step under the rewind knob, with a small indent at the rear, the hole in front of the diopter correction lever, certainly for rangefinder adjustment, the position of the six apparent screws retaining the cover, and the strap lugs attached to the cover instead of the body.
The accessory shoe and the diopter correcting eyepiece are also exactly similar to those of the Ichicon or Honor. The speed dial has the same positions and features as that of the Ichicon or very early Honor, with the 20–1 and 100 markings in a lighter color. Only the 1000 indication for the top speed differs, but it is off-centered and looks like it was added as an afterthought.
Finally, the chrome frame on the back is positioned the same as the black frame found on the other two cameras, but the parts do not seem interchangeable.
- Shirai, p.26 of Maboroshi no kamera o otte: これはカメラ界で最後に作ろうとして果たせなかった会社の名である.
- Example pictured in Naka, pp.17–9 of Camera Collectors' News no.38. Some of the pictures are reproduced in HPR, pp.193–4. The drawing in Pont / Princelle, p.205, certainly represents the same camera with wrong serial numbers.
- Naka, p.18 of Camera Collectors' News no.38, repeated in Pont / Princelle, p.204.
- Naka, p.18 of Camera Collectors' News no.38; these measurements were taken on the actual camera.
- The indications on the slow speed dial are faintly legible in the pictures. The speeds are reported in the text by Naka, p.18 of Camera Collectors' News no.38, and the X position between 8 and 20 is mentioned by HPR, p.193 (certainly after the pictures).
- Example pictured in Shirai, p.26 of Maboroshi no kamera o otte.
- Shirai, p.26 of Maboroshi no kamera o otte: それは氏が念願だった裏ブタがはずせるライカで[...].
- Shirai, p.26 of Maboroshi no kamera o otte.
- Shirai, p.25 of Maboroshi no kamera o otte: さらには、ニッポンカメラの製造を譲りうけたいといって、カメラを持っていったゼノビア光学は倒産して、だれかがそこから持ち出したカメラが、「オーナー」という名で熊谷氏にことわりなく作られた.
- Shirai, p.26 of Maboroshi no kamera o otte: これはカメラ界で最後に作ろうとして果たせなかった会社の名である (about "Jeicy Camera Works").
- Awano, p.1 of Camera Collectors' News no.35 and p.56 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.37.
- HPR. Leica Copies. London: Classic Collection Publications, 1994. ISBN 1-874485-05-4. Pp.191–3. (The pictures are the same as in Naka, pp.17–9 of Camera Collectors' News no.38.)
- Naka Kiyoshi (仲清). "Chinpin tōjō Jeicy" (珍品登場Jeicy, Unveiling a rarity: the Jeicy). In Camera Collectors' News no.38 (August 1980). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha. Pp.17–9.
- Pont, P.-H., and Princelle, J.-L. 300 Leica Copies. Neuilly: Fotosaga, 1990. ISBN 2-906840-03-3. Pp.204–5. (The drawing is not specifically based on any of the pictures in Naka, pp.17–9 of Camera Collectors' News no.38, but nonetheless certainly represents the same camera with wrong serial numbers.)
- Shirai Tatsuo (白井達男). "Nippon Kamera" (ニッポンカメラ, Nippon Camera). Pp.17–26 of Maboroshi no kamera o otte (幻のカメラを追って, Pursuing phantom cameras). Gendai Kamera Shinsho (現代カメラ新書). Tokyo: Asahi Sonorama, 1982. ISBN 4-257-08077-9. (First published in Kamera Rebyū / Camera Review no.2, February 1978.) Contains an interview of Kumagai Genji.