The Minon Six (ミノンシックス) is a series of Japanese 6×6 folders of the 1950s, evolution of the Poppy Six (which was itself a derivative of the Gotex made by Kigawa from 1941). The original Minon Six and Minon Six II wear logos indicating that they were produced by Shin Nippon Kōgyō, maker of the Poppy Six and successor of Kigawa; the production was later taken over by Yamato Kōki Kōgyō, which might be the new name of Shin Nippon Kōgyō.
Viewfinder-only Minon Six (I)
The original Minon Six, or Minon Six I, is a horizontal folder looking exactly the same as the Poppy Six II, from which it seems to differ by the name only. It notably has the same direct vision finder, brilliant finder and aperture gear (see the description in the page on the Gotex and Poppy Six). The name Minon Six is engraved above the top cover, together with the serial number.
At least three actual examples are known. The camera pictured in this article has an NKS shutter, synchronized via two pins at the bottom, and reportedly has an Eria Anastigmat lens. (This lens and shutter equipment is the same as found on late examples of the Poppy Six II.) A similar Minon Six is pictured in this page at Nekokane, seemingly having the same features. The SNK TOKYO logo of Shin Nippon Kōgyō is visible on the folding struts of the latter camera, surely indicating that the company was still called that way. (The same logo is still found on the red window cover of the early Minon Six II.)  A third example No.2844  has an Eria Anastigmat 75/3.5 lens # 3068 in a Lotus shutter with speeds of T,B-1-200, a round standard and a single flash post with self timer. "Minon" is on the struts, SNK Tokyo on the red window cover.
|Minon Six (I) no.2774, Eria Anastigmat lens, NKS shutter.|
Pictures courtesy of eBayer anns-auction. (Image rights)
General description of the rangefinder models
The body of the Minon Six II and III is similar to that of the Minon Six I, which was itself inherited from the Gotex and Poppy Six. The newer models have a redesigned top cover with an uncoupled rangefinder, which is combined with the viewfinder in a common eyepiece offset to the left, as seen by the photographer. There is a cap screwed to the rear of the rangefinder, certainly used for adjustment or repair. The uncoupled rangefinder is driven by a knob at the right end of the top plate. The shutter release is at its usual location on the right. The accessory shoe and folding bed release are above the rangefinder unit. The film is advanced by a knob at the left end, with an arrow engraved above to indicate the turning direction. The back is hinged to the right for film loading.
The shutter has B, 1–200 speeds and a self-timer, and is synchonized. The lens is front-cell focusing. There is a gear on the front standard, actuated by the right-hand fingers and moving the aperture ring. This gear is meant to look like it is driving a helical for unit focusing; this gimmick was inherited from the Poppy Six II and Minon Six I.
The Minon Six II
The Minon Six II has three-part folding struts, inspired from the 6×6 Ikonta, a square front standard and a Minon Anastigmat 75mm f/3.5 lens. The name Minon Six II is engraved in the top housing, and the body serial number appears above the viewfinder eyepiece. The brand MINON is embossed in the leather of the front door, and MINON SIX is embossed in the back leather.
The early Minon Six II are single format and can take 6×6cm pictures only. The back contains a single red window in the middle, protected by a horizontally sliding cover, with an SNK TOKYO logo, perhaps indicating that the camera was still made by Shin Nippon Kōgyō. This version has been observed with an NKS shutter, synchronized via two pins at the bottom. Another example has been observed with an unknown shutter and a single synch pin.
|Minon Six II no.6436, dual format, Minon Anastigmat 75mm f/3.5 lens no.7244, TSK shutter (B, 1–200).|
Pictures courtesy of eBayer dscamera. (Image rights)
The late Minon Six II are dual format and can take both 6×6cm and 4.5×6cm pictures. The frame in front of the viewfinder window has four prongs indicating the field of view for 4.5×6cm exposures. The back contains two red windows, protected by horizontally sliding individual covers, with 6X4.5 and 6X6 indications. Some examples are known to have the word MINON engraved in the folding struts; it is not known if the early Minon Six II have MINON or SNK TOKYO at this place.
One example, reported as a Minon Six II, is known with the straight folding struts and rounded front standard of the Minon Six III. It has the dual-format finder, the Minon Anastigmat lens and TSK shutter.
The Minon Six II was announced in the July 1951 issue of Asahi Camera, and was advertised from March to November 1952. The July 1952 advertisement in Photo Art says that the camera is dual format, and available with TSK or NKS shutters. The company name is specified as Yamato Kōki Kōgyō. The pictured camera has the three-part folding struts and the square front standard.
The Minon Six III
The Minon Six III has straight diagonal struts, slightly thicker at the root's end. The top of the front standard is rounded, on the side opposite the aperture gear. The lens is a Luminar 75/3.2 lens.
The name Minon Six III is engraved at the same place as on the previous model, but the letters have a different shape. The Minon and Minon Six embossings, respectively on the front door and on the back, also have a different font. The serial number is prefixed by the letter "S".
The early examples normally have a TSK shutter and an ASA synch post, but one is known with a no-name shutter. The late examples have a PC synch socket and the name PROMINON engraved at the bottom of the shutter rim.
The Minon Six III was announced in Japanese magazines dated December 1952 and January 1953, and was advertised from December 1952 to July 1956; the last reported mention of the camera is in the summer 1957 issue of Shashin Kōgyō. The July 1954 advertisement in Asahi Camera only lists the TSK shutter, and names the authorized dealers Daimon Shōkai and Kōwadō, in addition to the maker Yamato Kōki Kōgyō; the picture shows a camera with TSK shutter and ASA synch post. The January 1955 advertisement in the same magazine shows the same picture and gives the price as ¥13,000 (case included).
- The markings on the camera itself plainly identify it as a "Minon Six", and it is not known if the model name "Minon Six I" was used in advertising or other documents at the time it was sold.
- See the pictures in this page at Minorhouse.
- SOLD to Eastwestphoto in a online auction Dec. 2015
- Example pictured in this page at Minorhouse, and example observed in an online auction.
- Example observed in an online auction.
- Example pictured in this page, and example pictured in this page of doraDD's blog.
- Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1359.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.369.
- No-name shutter: example observed in an online auction.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.369.
- Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.198. A similar advertisement is visible here at Shashin-Bako.
- Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.161.
- 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 939–40. (See also the advertisement for item 685.)
- 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.73 (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.1021.
- 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 1359–60.
- Minon Six II (single format, NKS) at Minorhouse
- Minon Six II (dual format, TSK) and Minon Six III (Prominon) at doraDD's clacamera blog
- Minon Six III (TSK) at Aya's Camera
- Minon Six III sample pictures at Doru's Bar
- Minon Six III (TSK), transformed into a pinhole camera at Tetra (archived)
- Minon Six III (Prominon) in Suteccar
- Minon Six III (Prominon) in Bianchi's page at Photozou.org
- Unknown folding camera reported as a Minon Six, perhaps corresponding to the Minon Six I, at Nekokane
- Advertisement for the Minon Six published in 1954, reproduced in a page of Japanese postwar advertisements at the Shashin-Bako website