Semi Lucky and Semi Lucky II
The first models of the Semi Lucky are copies of the Nettar, with straight diagonal struts. They have a folding optical finder, whose opening is coupled to the folding bed release. The advance key protrudes at the bottom right, as seen by the 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, protected by a vertically sliding common cover. The name SEMI LUCKY is embossed in the front leather, and a SEMI LUCKY logo is embossed in the back leather and engraved on the folding struts. The name Lucky is also engraved in small characters on the standing leg.
The original model has no body release. It was advertised in Japanese magazines dated July and August 1937. The August advertisement in Asahi Camera offers the camera with a front-cell focusing Radionar f/4.5 lens and a Perfect shutter by Neumann & Heilemann, giving 5–250, B, T speeds, for ¥48 — case ¥3 extra. These advertisements are earlier than the takeover of Neumann & Heilemann by the Fujimoto company, which took place in September, and this model was perhaps made in Fujimoto's original Nakahoribashi plant.
The original model was soon replaced by the Semi Lucky II, a similar camera with an added body release, advertised from September 1937 to May 1938. In the October 1937 advertisement, it was offered for ¥65 with the same Radionar f/4.5 lens and Perfect shutter.
The regular surviving examples of the original Semi Lucky known so far have a Perfekt shutter with the early type of shutter plate (see Perfekt) and a Radionar f/4.5 lens engraved N.&H. Radionar with a serial number. These lenses were certainly assembled by Neumann & Heilemann, perhaps from Schneider optical elements.
One isolated example of the original Semi Lucky is pictured in McKeown with a Presto shutter, reportedly giving T, B, 1–500 speeds, and a lens reported as a Hildar Anastigmat 75/4.5. This equipment is probably not original and probably comes from a Semi Rosen U.
The other Semi Lucky II observed so far have a Perfekt shutter with the intermediate or late shutter plate design (see Perfekt, and have a different lens marking: Neumann & Heilemann Radionar 4.5 7.5cm with no lens number.
Semi Lucky III
The Semi Lucky III, released in mid-1938, has a newer body with different folding struts, copied from the Ikonta, and a new type of back latch, consisting of a long sliding bar with no handle. The body now looks very similar to that of the Semi Prince III or Semi Sport, from which it is mainly distinguished by its smaller size, its external finder opening linkage and its protruding advance key.
The examples of the Semi Lucky III observed so far have a Neumann & Heilemann Radionar 7.5cm f/4.5 lens with no serial number, and a Perfekt shutter with the late type of shutter plate (see Perfekt).
|image by Geoff Harrisson (Image rights)|
|Radionar lens and Perfekt shutter|
image by Geoff Harrisson (Image rights)
The Semi Lucky does not appear in the official list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941. This would indicate that its production was stopped. However a "Semi Lucky I" and "Semi Lucky II" are mentioned in the official price list dated November 1941, where they are attributed to Fujimoto. These Semi Lucky I and II also appear in the April 1943 government inquiry. This document says that they were made by Fujimoto and distributed by Taihō (大宝), a company which is otherwise unknown. They are registered as made of light alloy, probably indicating a die-cast construction. Both are said to have a Rapidex shutter (1–300, T, B, self-timer), oddly attributed to Chiyoda (the predecessor of Minolta). The two models differ by the lens aperture, the Semi Lucky I having a Lucky 75/4.5 and the Semi Lucky II having a Lucky 75/3.5. The manufacturer of the Lucky lenses is not mentioned in this document, but it is said to be Nishida Kōgaku.
It is not known if the Semi Lucky I and II mentioned in these late documents have the same body as the Semi Lucky III described above.
- McKeown, p.572, attributes the Semi Lucky to "K.S. Fabrik" by mistake, because of a confusion with the company Kinshō, maker of the Rapid-Presto shutter.
- Tanimura, p.51 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.11.
- This is notably visible on the picture in this page of Itō Sadanobu's camera collection, and on the advertising picture reproduced in Tanaka, p.77 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.343.
- Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.102.
- Advertisements listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.343.
- Advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.102.
- Example pictured in Tanimura, p.51 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.11, and example observed in an online auction.
- Tanimura, p.50 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.11, says that Schneider lenses were imported as separate elements and were assembled in Japan.
- Example pictured in McKeown, p.572.
- Example pictured in Tanimura, p.51 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.11.
- Examples observed in online auctions.
- Date: advertisements listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.343.
- Advertisement in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.102.
- Examples observed in online auctions. The picture of a Semi Lucky III in Tanaka, p.77 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8, is a reproduction of an original advertisement (the camera is misidentified as a Semi Lucky II).
- "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku".
- "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō", November 1941, type 3, sections 6B and 7B.
- "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), items 21–2.
- "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), shutter item 18-P-27.
- "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), lens items Lb23 and Lc3.
- Tanimura, p.51 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.11, based on an interview of Takahashi Kenzō.
- 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 305–7.
- "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō" (カメラの公定価格官報発表, Official announcement of the set prices of the cameras), November 1941. Extract of a table listing Japanese camera production and setting the retail prices, reproduced in "Bebī Semi Fāsuto 'Kore ha bebī wo nanotta semi-ki da'" (ベビーセミファースト"これはベビーを名乗ったセミ機だ", Baby Semi First, 'this is a Semi camera called Baby'), an article by Furukawa Yasuo (古川保男) in Camera Collectors' News no. 277 (July 2000). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha. P. 27. Type 3, sections 6B and 7B.
- "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" (国産写真機ノ現状調査, Inquiry into Japanese cameras), listing Japanese camera production as of April 1943. Reproduced in Supuringu kamera de ikou: Zen 69 kishu no shōkai to tsukaikata (スプリングカメラでいこう: 全69機種の紹介と使い方, Let's try spring cameras: Presentation and use of 69 machines). Tokyo: Shashinkogyo Syuppan-sha, 2004. ISBN 4-87956-072-3. Pp.180–7. Items 21–2.
- "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku" (国産写真機の公定価格, Set prices of the Japanese cameras), listing Japanese camera production as of October 25, 1940 and setting the retail prices from December 10, 1940. Published in Asahi Camera January 1941 and reproduced in 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. Pp.108—9. The Semi Lucky does not appear in this document.
- 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.572.
- Tanaka Masao (田中政雄). "Sonota no nihon no supuringu-kamera" (その他の日本のスプリングカメラ, "Other Japanese folding cameras"). Kamera Rebyū: Kurashikku Kamera Senka (カメラレビュー クラシックカメラ専科) / Camera Review: All about Historical Cameras no.8, September 1986. No ISBN number. Supuringu kamera (スプリングカメラ, special issue on spring cameras). Pp.76–80.
- Tanimura Yoshihiko (谷村吉彦). "Semi Purinsu kara Rakku made — Takahashi Kenzō shi ni kiku." (セミプリンスからラックまで・高橋健三氏にきく, "From the Semi Prince to the Luck — Asking Takahashi Kenzō") Kamera Rebyū: Kurashikku Kamera Senka (カメラレビュー クラシックカメラ専科) / Camera Review: All about Historical Cameras no.11, March 1988. No ISBN number. Shirarezaru kamera (知られざるカメラ, special issue on unknown cameras). Pp.50–1. Based on an interview of Takahashi Kenzō, former CEO of Fujimoto, who entered the company in 1934.
The Semi Lucky is not listed in Sugiyama.