Neumann & Heilemann

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Neumann & Heilemann was a company founded in the 1930s by Billy Neumann and Willy Heilemann, two German people living in Japan.

Contents

History

Billy Neumann had previously worked for Krauss in Paris, and Willy Heilemann for Kenngott, then they helped Kazuo Tashima to found the Nichidoku company, later Molta (predecessor of Minolta).[1] Heilemann left Molta in November 1931, followed by Neumann in 1932, who took some employees with him.[2] They founded their own company, called Neumann & Heilemann Feinmechanisch Werkstätten Gōshi-gaisha (ノイマン・ハイレマン・ファインメハニシェ・ウエルクステッテン合資会社), using NH inside a circle as their logo.[3] It was installed in a new plant in Takagi (高木), currently Ōmori-chō (大森町) in the city of Nishinomiya (西宮市), near the Mukogawa (武庫川) river.[4]

The company made the Neuheil, Rulex, Perfect and Perfekt shutters. It also made Radionar and other lenses, certainly assembling imported Schneider elements in a locally-produced barrel.[5] The company also became involved in the production of machine tools, under the influence of Billy Neumann, and they made an experimental motor tricycle.[6]

One of the company's last products was the Prince Flex camera (first Japanese TLR), first advertised in August 1937 by the distributor Fukada Shōkai. It is said that the body casting was bought from a sub-contractor, and that the final assembly took place in the Takagi plant.[7]

Billy Neumann founded the separate company Neumann Seiki (ノイマン精機) in August 1937, to manufacture machine tools in a new plant in the nearby city of Ashiya (芦屋市), and the company Neumann & Heilemann was dissolved on 11 September 1937.[8] All the assets and trademarks were sold to Fujimoto Shashinki Seisakusho, and the Takagi plant became Fujimoto's Mukogawa plant, reportedly called Mukogawa Shashin Kōgyō (武庫川写真工業, meaning Mukogawa Photo Industries).[9] (The Semi Lucky by Fujimoto would be produced in this plant.)[10] Fujimoto continued the production of the Prince Flex camera and Rulex and Perfekt shutters, and the assembly of the Radionar lenses. The NH logo and "Neumann & Heilemann" markings were kept on all these products, and it is not possible to identify for sure those which were made after Fujimoto's takeover. The Mukogawa plant was finally handed over to Chiyoda Kōgaku Seikō (predecessor of Minolta)

Neumann died in a motorbike accident at some time in the late 1930s.[9] Heilemann was suspected of spying during the war, and was imprisoned for some months in 1943.[9] After the war, he built a small plant in Kōyōen (甲陽園), in the city of Nishinomiya (西宮市), and made various products, including a camera shutter called Heilemann, which met little success.[9]

Cameras

The attribution of the Condor folders to Neumann & Heilemann is a mistake.[11]

Shutters

Shutters by Neumann & Heilemann:[12]

The Heilemann shutter (5–250, B) was made after the war by Heilemann alone. It has three blades, a setting lever and an ASA synch post, and was mounted on the Monte 35.[9]

A Neuman shutter (single "n"), giving B, 1–250 speeds and inscribed NEUMAN OPTICAL WORKS, is known on the postwar Royal Senior but is probably not related to the Neumann & Heilemann company.

Lenses

All these lenses were certainly assembled from imported elements, probably supplied by Schneider for the Radionar.

  • Radionar 7.5cm f/6.3
  • Radionar 7.5cm f/4.5
  • Radionar 7.5cm f/3.5
  • Neotar 7.5cm f/4.5
  • Radionar 10.5cm f/6.3
  • Radionar 10.5cm f/4.5
  • Radionar 10.5cm f/3.5
  • Tenar 10.5cm f/4.5 (marked Neumann Jena, attribution to Neumann & Heilemann is probable)
  • Tritar 10.5cm f/4.5[13]

List of cameras equipped with a Neumann & Heilemann lens (this list is incomplete, and that a model appears in the list does not mean that all its variants are concerned):

Notes

  1. Career of Neumann and Heilemann before entering Nichidoku: Tanimura, p.96 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12, and Awano, p.1 of Camera Collectors' News no.114.
  2. Tashima, Watakushi no rirekisho, quoted in Andō, p.2 of Camera Collectors' News no.127. The dates are repeated in Tanimura, p.96 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12, and Awano, p.6 of the same magazine and p.1 of Camera Collectors' News no.114.
  3. Dates and company name: Tanimura, p.96 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12. The company name is confirmed by an extract of the Kōbe Shinbun (27 September 1937) reproduced on p.99 of the same source.
  4. Tanimura, p.97 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12.
  5. Tanimura, p.50 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.11, says that Schneider lenses were imported as separate elements and were assembled in Japan. Awano, p.2 of Camera Collectors' News no.114, says that the Neotar f/4.5 and Radionar f/3.5 lenses of the Prince Flex were perhaps imported as separate elements or already mounted in a barrel, but that the tariff structure was favourable to local assemblies from separate parts.
  6. Tanimura, pp.98–9 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12, partly based on the testimony of a former employee of the company.
  7. Tanimura, p.439 of Kokusan kamera no rekishi and p.98 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12, based on the testimony of a former employee of the company.
  8. Neumann Seiki: Tanimura, p.99 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12. Neumann & Heilemann dissolved on 11 September 1937: extract of the Kōbe Shinbun (27 September 1937) reproduced in Tanimura, p.99 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Tanimura, p.99 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.12.
  10. Tanimura, p.51 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.11.
  11. Mistake in McKeown, p.717. Most Condor folders have a Rulex shutter made by the company.
  12. The Heil shutter, normally associated to Riken products, is attributed to Neumann & Heilemann in Shunkan o torae-tsuzukeru shattā-ten, p.19.
  13. Examples pictured in this page at ksmt.com, and in Hibi, p.65 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8.

Bibliography

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