Walz was a Japanese camera maker or distributor.
First use of the name
The first camera with the name Walz, a 3×4cm folder, appeared in 1936. It was ostensibly made by "Walz Camera Works" (ワルツカメラ・ウオークス) or "Walz Works" (ワルツウオークス) but these were dummy names (see Camera Works), and this maker is identified as Okada Kōgaku by various sources. The earliest examples of the Okada Waltax, made in 1940, also have Walz markings. Both the 3×4cm Walz and the Waltax were distributed by Nihon Shōkai. The same company sold various Walz accessories before 1945, such as a rangefinder, filters and hoods, and again others around 1949. It was certainly the owner of the Walz brand name, and was perhaps the predecessor of Walz Shōkai.
The company K.K. Walz Shōkai (㈱ワルツ商会) was already existing in November 1952. It was based in Tokyo. Shōkai literally means "Company" in Japanese; but it is often used for trading companies, and this looks like a distributor's name. It does not mean however that it did not have its own manufacturing branch, perhaps called "Walz Camera Co." as indicated by some lens markings.
Walz sold cameras under its own name. It was also an Olympus authorized dealer, at least in 1954. Walz also sold many accessories, including filters, self-timers, exposure meters, rangefinders, multifocal finders (including a copy of the Leitz Imarect), flash units, movie editors, etc.
The company name became simply K.K. Walz (㈱ワルツ) at some date between October 1955 and August 1956. In 1960 and 1961 it had offices in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka and Washington D.C. It went bankrupt in April 1961.
Walz's president Ōta Toshio (太田俊夫) became a writer after the company closed its doors. He wrote several novels about the business world of the time, including Shachō Saigo no Hi (社長最後の日, The last days of a CEO) or Keikaku Tōsan (計画倒産, Fake Bankruptcy).
A company called Waltz K.K. (ワルツ㈱) exists today (2007) and sells coffee. It was founded in December 1952 in the town of Toyohashi. It is certainly not the same company that sold photographic products, that already existed in November 1952 and was based in Tokyo.
- Walcon Semi (4.5×6 folder)
- Walcon 6 (6×6 folder)
- Wagoflex (6×6 TLR)
- Walzflex (6×6 TLR), various models
The Walz (3×4) was sold by Nihon Shōkai before the Walz company.
|Walz Super II and Etalon exposure meters in Photo Art'||Advertisement for Walz accessories in Photo Art'|
- Walz exposure meters:
- Walz rangefinder NKS Pat 8645
- Walz multifocal finder
- Walz flash guns
- Walz self-timer
- Walz filters and hoods
- Walz tripods and ball-heads
- Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.344 (item 346); Sugiyama, item 1262; McKeown, p.745.
- Advertisement dated November 1952, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.214.
- Its address between 1952 and 1961 was Tōkyō-to Chūō-ku Nihonbashi Muromachi 1–16 (東京都中央区日本橋室町1–16). Source: advertisements reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.214–5 and 329–32.
- Advertisements dated 1954 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.215. See also this advertisement for the Walcon and Wagoflex reproduced in the Shashin-Bako website.
- Advertisements dated October 1955 and August 1956 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.215 and 329, showing the transition.
- Advertisements dated 1960 and 1961 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.330 and 332.
- Lewis, p.104.
- This page by Shimamura Hideki.
- See the chronology of the current Waltz website.
- Advertisement in Photo Art no.80, June 1955, p.55.
- Column in Photo Art no.80, June 1955, p.103.
References / further reading
- 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.
- 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).
- Photo Art rinji zōkan: Kamera akusesarī zensho (フォトアート臨時増刊・カメラアクセサリー全書, Photo Art special issue: All the camera accessories). June 1955, no.80 of the magazine.
- "Denki roshutsukei" (電気露出計, Electric exposure meters). Pp.102–3.
- Advertisement by Walz Shōkai on p.55.
- The Walz Envoy 35 page, in English and in Japanese at Mediajoy Classic Cameras, follow the "Next" links at bottom of the page to get an illustrated sequence of operations.
- Page on classic cameras at Shimamura Hideki's website, including details on Walz and its president Ōta Toshio
- The Walz 35, the Walz Envoy 35 and the Walz Electric 2.8, all with sample pictures and some with restore tips, at K.Fukushi's Rangefinder website
- A-Z 35mm rangefinder cameras at Asacame, with the Walz Wide on this page
- The Walz 35 page in the Camera database of the Center of the History of Japanese Industrial Technology
- Advertisement for the Walcon and Wagoflex, published in 1954, reproduced in a page of Japanese postwar advertisements at the Shashin-Bako website
- This Walzflex page at La Chambre Claire suggests that Nihon Shōkai was the owner of the Walz brand name before the war, and became Walz Shōkai after the war.
- Cameras at www.collection-appareils.fr