Taiyōdō (太陽堂), later Beauty Camera, was a Japanese camera maker and distributor from the mid-1940s to the early 1960s.
|Advertisement by Taiyōdō in Ars Camera January and July 1946. (Image rights)|
|Advertisement by Taiyōdō in Ars Camera February 1949. (Image rights)|
Taiyōdō was already active as a camera distributor in early 1946. It was based in Tokyo, at the Jinbōchō crossing. From 1948, its manufacturing branch Taiyōdō Kōki K.K. (太陽堂光機㈱) made the Meteor subminiature camera taking 17.5mm film, soon followed by the Vestkam, Epochs and Beauty 14, and by the Spy 16 and Beauty 16 using 16mm film. At about the same time, Taiyōdō was distributing the Gelto 3×4cm camera, the Semi Gelto and other Gelto products, and was using the Planet brand for various accessories. Both the manufacturing and sales companies had an address in Jinbōchō (Tokyo); they would appear as separate companies until 1951.
In mid-1950, the company released the first Beauty Six model. This camera was released later the same year as the Frank Six by Tōsei Kōki; it is not known if the production was transferred to Tōsei or if it produced the camera from the start as a subcontractor of Taiyōdō. The Beautyflex TLR was released by Taiyōdō Kōki in late 1950 or early 1951.
From 1952 or 1953, the sales company was merged into the manufacturing company Taiyōdō Kōki K.K., and the factory was moved to Shimizuchō, the sales department remaining in Jinbōchō. In late 1953, the company released the second Beauty Six. (A very similar camera was later sold by Tougodo as the Toyoca Six; again it is not known if the camera was subcontracted to Tougodo from the start or if Tougodo bought the dies and toolings later.) In late 1954, Taiyōdō released the Reflex Beauty, a 6×6 SLR distantly inspired by the Reflex-Korelle. The bulk of the sales was provided by the TLR models, whose production continued in parallel. The company entered the 35mm camera market with the viewfinder-only Beauty 35 in mid 1955, followed by the rangefinder Beauty Super 35 then Beauty Canter 35.
Taiyōdō went bankrupt in September 1957. It was reorganized as Beauty Camera K.K. (ビューティカメラ㈱), and was active under that name by December 1957. Its address changed a number of times after that date: it was in Shimura Kiyomizuchō in late 1957, in Kayabachō Nihonbashi in 1958–9, in Edobashi in late 1960 and in Miyamotochō in 1962–3. All trace of the company is lost after that date.
Clockwise from top left: Beauty Beaumat, Lightomatic I, Lightomatic III and Lightomatic II
- Beautyflex (I), II, IIA, III, IV, V, U, K, S, IIIS, T, 28, D
- Beautycord, Beautycord S
35mm viewfinder and rangefinder
- Beauty 35 (1955)
- Beauty 35 Super (1956)
- Beauty Canter (F2.8 and F1.9) (1957)
- Beauty Super II (1958)
- Beauty Super L (1958)
- Beauty Lightomatic or Beauty LM (1959)
- Beauty Lightomatic II (1960)
- Beaumat (1960)
- Beauty Lightomatic III or Beauty Lite III (1962)
- Beauty Lightmatic SP (1963)
- Gelto flashgun
- Planet rollfilm holder (6×9cm and 6×6cm)
- Planet filters
- Planet lens caps
- Advertisement by Taiyōdō in the January 1946 issue of Ars Camera, p.11.
- The address was Tōkyō-to Kanda-ku Jinbōchō Kōsaten (東京都神田区神保町交差点). Source: advertisements in Ars Camera January 1946 (p.11) and July 1946 (p.1).
- Advertisements on p.6 of Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin April 20, 1948, reproduced on p.84 of Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku, and advertisement in Kohga Gekkan May 1948, reproduced in Awano, p.5 of Camera Collectors' News no.239.
- The manufacturing company was at Chiyoda-ku Kanda Jinbōchō (千代田区神田神保町) 1–12, and the sales company was at the Jinbōchō crossing. Source: advertisements dated April 1948 to July 1951 reproduced in this page, in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.166–7 and 200, in Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku, p.84, and in Awano, p.6 of Camera Collectors' News no.239.
- The address was Itabashi-ku Shimura Shimizuchō (板橋区志村清水町) 366. Source: advertisements dated from July 1953 to December 1955 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.166–9.
- Lewis, p.104.
- Compare the advertisements dated April 1957 (Taiyōdō Kōki) and December 1957 (Beauty Camera) reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.269.
- The address was Itabashi Shimura Kiyomizuchō (板橋・志村清水町). Source: advertisement dated December 1957 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.269.
- The address was Nihonbashi Kayabachō (日本橋茅場町) 1–18. Source: advertisements dated October and December 1958 and February 1959, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.270.
- The address was 日本橋江戸橋 1–15. Source: advertisement dated November 1960 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.270.
- The address was 日本橋江戸橋 1–15. Source: advertisements dated July 1962 and September 1963, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.270.
- Advertisement in Kohga Gekkan May 1948, reproduced in Awano, p.5 of Camera Collectors' News no.239.
- Advertisement on p.6 of Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin April 20, 1948, reproduced on p.84 of Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku, and advertisement in Kohga Gekkan May 1948, reproduced in Awano, p.5 of Camera Collectors' News no.239.
- Advertisement on p.6 of Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin April 20, 1948, reproduced on p.84 of Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku.
- Ars Camera. Advertisements by Taiyōdō in January 1946 (p.11), July 1946 (p.1) and February 1949 (p.2).
- 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.
- Awano Mikio (粟野幹男). "Meteōru, Besutokamu, Epokkusu" (メテオール、ベストカム、エポックス, Meteor, Vestkam, Epochs). In Camera Collectors' News no.239 (May 1997). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha. (Shows reproductions of advertisements placed by Taiyōdō.)
- 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), ISBN 0-935398-16-3 (hard).
- Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin (日本写真興業通信). Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku (百号ごと十回の記録, Ten records, every hundred issues). Tokyo: Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin Sha (日本写真興業通信社), 1967. No ISBN number. Advertisements on p.84, corresponding to p.6 of the April 20, 1948 issue.
- Photo Art Advertisements by Taiyōdō in December 1949 (p.2) and May 1950 (p.2).