The Toyoca B35 is a Japanese viewfinder-only 35mm folder, made by Tougodo in 1955–6, and the Chest 35 is a name variant distributed by Super Shashin-yōhin. The Pigeon 35 V and Pigeon 35 5B are rangefinder versions distributed in 1956 by Endō Shashin-yōhin, owner of the Pigeon brand.
The Toyoca B35 and Chest 35
The Toyoca B35 and its derivatives are horizontal folders, unlike most other 35mm folding cameras. The design of the main body is clearly inspired from the Retina IIa, with sharp edges and a similar top cover. From right to left, there is an advance lever containing an exposure counter, the shutter release, a small step, the engraving of the name, an accessory shoe and a rewind knob containing a film reminder. This arrangement is exactly the same as on the Retina IIa and the shape of the parts is similar too. The Toyoca B35 and Chest 35 only have a viewfinder, slightly offset to the left. The camera has double exposure prevention: the main release cannot be tripped twice unless the film is advanced first.
The back is hinged to the right and the back latch is again the same as on the Retina. The Toyoca has no strap lugs. The folding bed is hinged at the bottom, its shape is otherwise similar to that of the Retina. The bed opening button is on the front of the camera, at the top of the leatherette covering under the rewind knob. The lens standard is almost the same as on the Retina, turned 90°, it notably has the same two small buttons to close the bed. There is a PC synch post at the top front of the lens standard.
The lens is a front-cell focusing Owla 4.5cm f/3.5 on the Toyoca B35, and an S. Hasener 45mm f/3.5 on the Chest 35. The shutter gives B, 1–200 speeds and has a self-timer. Depending on the version, the shutter is either cocked by the advance lever when the film is wound or manually cocked by a lever on the shutter housing itself. The shutter plate is black with white depth-of-field indications and a light-coloured aperture scale.
The Toyoca B35 (トヨカB35) was announced in May and June 1955 issues of Japanese magazines, and it was advertised from June 1955 to March 1956. The Chest 35 is a name variant distributed by Super Shashin-yōhin, announced in the June 1955 issue of Sankei Camera.
The June 1955 advertisement by Tōgōdō in Sankei Camera lists the Toyoca B35 for ¥8,500 (case included) with an Owla f/3.5 lens and a synchronized NKS shutter (B, 1–200, self-timer). The pictured camera has manual shutter cocking via a small lever.
The November 1955 advertisement in Asahi Camera lists the camera at an unchanged price and gives the shutter name as IJK. The pictured camera has a self-cocking shutter; the cover for the coupling mechanism is shaped the same as on the Retina IIa and probably contains a pinion connected to a circular rack surrounding the shutter's back.
Only two recent pictures of the Toyoca B35 have been observed so far. The example pictured in Sugiyama has a shutter (B, 1–200, self-timer) reported as an NKS-SL, manually cocked by a small lever. No example of the self-cocking Toyoca B35 is yet known.
The only known example of the Chest 35 has a Chest engraving above the top plate and a minor variation in the shape of the folding bed's catch. It has an NKS shutter and the S. Hasener 45mm f/3.5 lens no.3070.
The Pigeon 35 V
The Pigeon 35 V (ピジョン35V型) has a coupled rangefinder, whose eyepiece is common with the viewfinder and whose windows are placed the same as on the Retina IIa. There is a Pigeon MODEL-V nameplate screwed above the camera. The lens is a front-cell focusing Tri-Lausar 45mm f/3.5, and the rangefinder coupling arm runs under a cover, forming a bridge over the shutter casing. The folding bed has a more rounded shape than on the Toyoca, with a small hump at the top to leave space for the coupling arm when closed.
The shutter is the self-cocking IJK (B, 1–200, self-timer) of the late Toyoca B35. The shutter plate is black with speed and aperture scales and the depth-of-field indications in a light colour. The PC synch post is placed on the shutter casing itself.
The Pigeon 35 V was advertised from December 1955 to March 1956 and was featured in Japanese magazines dated January 1956. Advertisements in Camera Mainichi dated December 1955 and January 1956 give the price of ¥12,000 and do not mention the maker's name.
Only three recent pictures of the Pigeon 35 V have been observed so far. These two examples look identical; they only differ from the advertising pictures by the absence of a small leatherette strip on the top part of the folding bed, apparently original and not imputable to wear.
The Pigeon 35 5B
The Pigeon 35 5B (ピジョン35 5B) is an evolution of the Pigeon 35 V with a bright-frame finder, a four-element S Pigeon 45/2.8 lens and a Pigeon shutter (B, 1–200). The camera was announced in Japanese magazines in June and July 1956 and was advertised from June to September. The August advertisement in Camera Mainichi gives the price of ¥14,000. The picture shows a number of external differences with the previous model. The viewfinder window is larger and the two windows are perhaps surrounded by a black plastic frame. The accessory shoe has moved to the middle of the top plate. The rewind knob was perhaps replaced by a crank, and there is a step next to it. It also seems that the advance lever was modified. The folding bed looks more hollow; the bottom plate is much higher and the leatherette covering is accordingly reduced.
No surviving example of the Pigeon 35 5B is known yet.
- "Toyoca" is certainly the contraction of Toyohashi — Tougodo's hometown — and Camera.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.356.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.355.
- Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.152.
- Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.152.
- Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 3824, and example pictured in Shimaoka, p.150 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8.
- Example pictured in Omoide no supuringu-kamera-ten, p.32.
- The "V" is probably the Roman number five, as the existence of a model 5B strongly suggests.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.359.
- Advertisements reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.164 and 267.
- Example pictured in Sugiyama, item 3682, example pictured in McKeown, p.891, and example pictured in Shimaoka, p.150 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8. In both Sugiyama and McKeown, the camera is attributed to Shinano Kōki, the maker of other Pigeon 35 models, but the connection with Tougodo is obvious and this is surely a mistake.
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.396.
- Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.268.
- 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 601, 630, 716 and 1461. (See also the advertisements for items 628–9 and 1457.)
- 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). Pp.891 and 932.
- Omoide no supuringu-kamera-ten (思い出のスプリングカメラ展, Exhibition of beloved self-erecting cameras). Tokyo: JCII Camera Museum, 1992. (Exhibition catalogue, no ISBN number.) P.32.
- Shimaoka Jun (島岡洵). "Konna kamera anna kamera" (こんなカメラあんなカメラ, This and that camera). 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.150–1.
- 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. Items 3682 and 3824.