Japanese plate cameras, folding bed (edit)
No.0 (4×5cm) Alpha | Sweet | Pony Sweet | Taishō-shiki
atom (4.5×6cm) Monarch | Need | Palma
meishi (5.5×8cm) Eagle | Idea A | Idea B | Idea Snap | Idea No.1 | Iris | Lily (horizontal) | Pearl No.3 | Special Camera | Venis | X
daimeishi (6.5×9cm) Apollo | Arcadia | Crite | Special East | Eaton | Elliotte | First | First Etui | Gold | Happy | Hope | Idea No.1 | Idea (metal) | Kinka | Kokka | Lily (horizontal) | Lily (metal) | Tropical Lily | Lloyd | Lomax | Masnette | Mikuni | Need | Nifca Klapp | Nifca Sport | Ohca | Palma | Peter | Prince | Prince Peerless | Proud | Romax | Rosen | Rubies | Sirius | Sun | Super | Tokiwa | Venus | Weha Idea | Weha Light
tefuda (8×10.5cm) Eagle | Idea A | Idea B | Idea No.1 | Idea (metal) | Iris | Lily (original) | Lily (horizontal) | Lily (metal) | Palma | Pearl No.3, No.4 | Minimum Pearl | Special Pearl | Sakura Palace | Sakura Pocket Prano | Star | Tokiwa | Weha
nimaigake (8×12cm) Eagle | Idea | Idea Binocular | Sakura Prano | Sakura Binocular Prano | Star Premo
hagaki (8×14cm) Eagle | Noble | Pearl No.3, No.4 | Star
kabine (12×16.5cm) Idea | Noble | Sakura Prano | Star Premo
Japanese plate film: monocular, box, strut-folding and SLR ->
3×4 and 4×4, 4×5 and 4×6.5, 4.5×6, 6×6 and 6×9 ->

The Kokka (コッカ) are Japanese 6.5×9cm plate folders, advertised by First Camera Works around 1935. It was certainly distributed by Minagawa Shōten, the owner of the "First" brand, and made by Kuribayashi.[1] The name Kokka is written in katakana script in the original documents seen so far. Various Japanese words are pronounced kokka; the camera name certainly originates from one of these: 国花 or 国華, literally meaning "national flower" and designating the chrysanthemum, 国歌, meaning "national anthem", or 国家, meaning "state" or "nation".

Description of the body[edit | edit source]

The Kokka have a pressed steel body and rounded folding struts. They have a distance scale on the photographer's left, a brilliant finder offset to the left of the front standard, and a wireframe finder with a rectangular eyepiece on the rear. Two types of wireframe finders are known: one has a rectangular shape and the other has indents at the bottom and at the top corner. The leather handle and folding bed release are above the rear body.

Two models exist: the simpler one has single extension bellows and is focused by moving the front standard back and forth by hand; it seems that it has no movement ability. The other model has double extension bellows driven by a worm screw on the photographer's right; it sometimes has vertical movements driven by a knob atop the right-hand branch of the U-shaped front standard, and sometimes has a bubble level attached to the brilliant finder.

The original ground glass holder has the word KOKKA embossed in the metal frame, surrounded by a pair of stylized wings.[2]

Commercial life[edit | edit source]

Some sources say that the Kokka was introduced in 1930, was substituted by the "New Kokka" in 1932 and adopted Japanese lenses and shutters in 1934, but no original document has been found to confirm this.[3]

Advertisements in Asahi Camera dated May and July 1935 show the following range:[4]

The Toko and State lenses were made by Tōkyō Kōgaku, the Tenar was perhaps assembled by Neumann & Heilemann, and the Trinar was supplied by Rodenstock. Another source also reports Xenar f/4.5 lenses, Vario and Pronto shutters.[5]

The last known advertisement is dated October 1936, and only briefly mentions the Kokka.[6] However, three versions of the Kokka are still mentioned in the official list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941: the plain "Kokka" (コッカ, ¥43), the "S Kokka I" (S型コッカⅠ, ¥52) and the "S Kokka II" (S型コッカⅡ, ¥76), with no further details.[7]

Surviving examples[edit | edit source]

Surviving examples are known in the following combinations:

bellows extension movements bubble level shutter lens
double vertical yes Rulex B
(5–150, B, T)
Neumann & Heilemann Radionar 10.5cm f/4.5[8]
double vertical yes Magna State-Anastigmat 10.5cm f/4.5[9]
double vertical yes Magna Toko-Anastigmat[10]
double vertical no Magna Toko-Anastigmat 10.5cm f/6.3[11]
double no no Magna Trinar Anastigmat Dresden 10.5cm f/6.3[12]
single no no Magna First-Anastigmat Tokyo 105/4.5[13]
single no no Magna Toko-Anastigmat 105/6.3[14]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Made by Kuribayashi: Baird, pp.15–6 and 54–6 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras; McKeown, p.575. No original document has been found to confirm this.
  2. See the picture in Baird, p.55 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras.
  3. Baird, pp.16, 54 and 56 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras; McKeown, p.575.
  4. May 1935: advertisement reproduced in Baird, p.17 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras. July 1935: advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.72.
  5. Baird, p.56 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras.
  6. October 1936 supplement to Camera Club, second cover. It is later than the advertisements listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.336.
  7. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 8, sections 1, 2 and 3.
  8. Example pictured in Kamera no ayumi, p.82, belonging to the Pentax Gallery.
  9. Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1077, in Baird, pp.54–5 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras, and in McKeown, p.575 (lens no.14327); example pictured in Baird, p.69 of The Japanese Camera (lens no.14339).
  10. Example observed in an online auction.
  11. Example pictured in this page of the Topcon Club website.
  12. Example offered for sale by a Japanese dealer, lens name reported only (four-digit lens number, perhaps 1056). Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 1185, wrongly identified as a "Happy Hand Camera" by Molta, lens name reported as "Trinar Anastigmat". Both have indented wireframe finders.
  13. Example offered for sale by a Japanese dealer (lens no.104x2).
  14. Example pictured in this page.

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • 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 106–7.
  • Baird, John R. Collectors guide to Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras. Grantsburg, WI (USA): Centennial Photo Service, 1991. ISBN 0-931838-16-9. Pp.15–6 and 54–6.
  • Baird, John R. The Japanese Camera. Yakima, WA: Historical Camera Publications, 1990. ISBN 1-879561-02-6. P.69 (picture only).
  • Kamera no ayumi. Zen nihon shashin renmei sōritsu 50-shūnen kinen (カメラのあゆみ・全日本写真連盟創立五〇周年記念, History of cameras, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the All Japan Association of Photographic Societies). Tokyo: Asahi Shinbunsha, 1976. No ISBN number. P.82.
  • "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 8, sections 1, 2 and 3.
  • 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.575.
  • 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 1077. (See also item 1185, wrongly identified as a "Happy Hand Camera", actually a Kokka.)

Links[edit | edit source]

In Japanese:


Kuribayashi prewar and wartime cameras (edit)
rollfilm folders
Eagle | Speed Pocket | First Roll | First Center | Semi First | First Six | Baby Semi First | Semi Rotte | Hokoku | Mizuho
plate folders rigid SLR TLR unknown
Mikuni | First | First Etui | Kokka | Romax | Tokiwa Molby Speed Reflex First Reflex Baby First
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