The Victor folders are Japanese 4.5×6 and 6×6 folding cameras, made from 1937 by Motodori. The original Victor was the successor of the nearly identical Semi Lester and the series was followed by the similar Condor folders. The Semi Adler and Adler III were rebadged versions sold by Asahi Bussan or Riken.
All the models have the same body, inherited from the Semi Lester and copied from the large Baldax model. Most have a folding optical finder, whose front part folds above the rear part. The folding bed release is to the right of the viewfinder, as seen by the photographer holding the camera horizontally. The advance knob is at the bottom right. The back is hinged to the left and the back latch is usually covered by a leather handle. There are two red windows, protected by vertically sliding individual covers, to control film advance. The name is embossed in the front leather: VICTOR on the 4.5×6cm models and VICTOR SIX on the 6×6cm models. All the models have a front-cell focusing lens.
The original Victor (ビクター), announced in September 1937, has a folding optical finder, a leather handle and no body release. The individual red window covers are the only visible difference with the preceding Semi Lester.
- Delter Anastigmat 75/4.5 lens, Rulex D shutter, 25–150, B, T speeds (¥50);
- Delter Anastigmat 75/4.5 lens, Rulex B shutter, 5–150, B, T speeds (¥58);
- Delter Anastigmat 75/4.5 lens, Rulex A shutter, 1–200, B, T speeds (¥65);
- Quick Anastigmat 75/3.5 lens, Rulex A shutter, 1–200, B, T speeds (¥78).
In advertisements dated June and September 1938, the camera is now called Semi Victor (セミビクター) and the Victor Six is announced as coming soon. The company name is replaced by the dummy name Victor Camera Works (ビクターカメラ・ウオークス). The list of versions has the following addition:
- Quick Anastigmat 75/2.9 lens, Rulex A shutter, 1–200, B, T speeds (¥95).
Victor Six and Semi Victor with body release
The Victor Six (ビクターシックス), announced in 1938, was not released until 1939. It is a 6×6 model with a body release. Two versions exist, one has red window advance like the Semi Victor, the other has an auto-stop advance device with an exposure counter. This mechanism was copied on the Plaubel device mounted on rollfilm backs and on the Roll-Op II camera.
|body version||Semi Victor||Victor Six
|lens and shutter|
|Delter Anastigmat 75/4.5,
|Delter Anastigmat 75/4.5,
|Quick Anastigmat 75/3.5,
This advertisement was placed by Nissan Kōgaku Kōgyōsha, a company whose relationship with Motodori is unknown.
In mid 1939, the Victor folders were replaced by the similar Condor folders. However a "Semi Victor II" was reportedly advertised by Ueno Shōten in the October 1939 issue of Asahi Camera, with an Adler f/4.5 lens and a Rulex B shutter. One example of the camera has been observed with this combination: the Rulex B (5–200, B, T) has a setting lever and is coupled to a body release, and the lens is an Adler Anastigmat 7.5cm f/4.5. The Adler lens was certainly supplied by Riken or its dependent company Asahi Kōgaku Kōgyō.
The official list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941 has four versions of the Semi Victor and three of the Victor Six: "Semi Victor I" (¥74), "Semi Victor II" (¥85), "Semi Victor III" (¥88), "Semi Victor IV" (¥98), "Victor Six I" (¥79), "Victor Six II" (¥89), "Victor Six III" (¥110), with no further details. The same list also has Condor models. A similar list dated November 1941 still has the "Semi Victor IV", attributed to "Motodori Kōgaku".
One late example of the Victor is pictured in Sugiyama. It has a rigid optical finder, no body release, a new type of back latch with no leather handle, and perhaps a bakelite advance knob. The lens is a Delter Anastigmat 7.5cm f/4.5. The unmarked shutter is everset and gives 5–250, B, T speeds; it is in #00 size and looks disproportionately small on the Victor body. The camera is only identified by the name VICTOR embossed in the front leather; it is pretty similar to the Zeitax pictured in this page or this page at Japan Family Camera except for the absence of body release (and maybe for the configuration of the red windows).
- Attribution to Motodori: advertisement dated October 1937 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.84, and "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō", November 1941, type 3, section 7A. The camera is attributed to "Victor Camera Works" in Sugiyama, item 1261, and McKeown, p.945, but this was certainly a dummy name used in advertisements (see Camera Works).
- The earliest advertisement listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.339, is dated September 1937, and the camera was mentioned as "available soon".
- Advertisement in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.84.
- This version has been observed in an online auction.
- Name inferred from the katakana クイック appearing in later advertisements and in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.339. The October 1937 advertisement reads クツク, a probable typo.
- Advertisement] in Asahi Graph (8 June 1938), formerly reproduced at the Gochamaze website (archived); advertisement in Asahi Camera June 1938, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.85; advertisement in Asahi Camera September 1938, observed in an online auction.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.339, mentions advertisements in Asahi Camera between March to September 1938, but even the latter only mentions the camera as "available soon".
- Date: advertisements listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.339.
- Advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.84.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.339.
- Example observed in an online auction.
- "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 3, sections 4A, 5A, 6A, 7A; type 4, sections 3, 5A, 6A.
- "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō", November 1941, type 3, section 7A.
- Sugiyama, item 1261. The same information is repeated in McKeown, p.945.
- 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 188–9 and 191. (See also the advertisement for item 190.)
- "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, section 7A.
- "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. Type 3, sections 4A, 5A, 6A, 7A; type 4, sections 3, 5A, 6A.
- 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.945.
- 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. Item 1261.