Minolta 35

Tomei Collection

The offices and facilities of Chiyoda Kogaku Seiko located in Hongo, Tokyo, were destroyed in March 1945.  Shortly thereafter in May, the Osaka main offices were destroyed as were the plants in Bukogawa, Komatsu, and Amagasaki.  However, the plant in Sakai survived as did evacuated production machinery located in Kameoka, Kyoto and Mt. Ikomo, Nara.  With this foundation of destruction and disarray, Minolta launched post-war operations that would eventually make this company one of the most influential and successful in the world.


By early 1946, the General Headquarters of the Occupation had authorized resumption of production in almost every firm in the photographic industry.  The Allied Occupation Forces in Japan had a special interest in promoting the recovery of the photographic industry.  Contrary to popular opinion, the "made in occupied Japan" (often referred to as MIOJ by collectors) was not required for all products during the early years between 1946 and 1950.  This policy was intended to promote the rapid recovery and introduction of cameras and photographic materials primarily for use by the occupation forces.  The camera shown here is an example of the the very earliest production which was exempt from the MIOJ label.

Designed by Hajimu Miyabe, Chiyoda Kogaku introduced the new Minolta 35 in May, 1947.  This example is number 0778 and is among the cameras built in the first couple weeks of operation and is especially rare. The 45mm f/2.8 Super Rokkor lens is number 2109 and was built during this same period.  As did Nikon, this model used the 24mm x 32mm format.  Although this format is often referred to as "new", or as the Japanese Format, in fact it is a format originally introduced in 1928 by Q.R.S. in their then newly designed Kamra model.  By the early 1950's, all Japanese 35mm camera manufacturers had returned to the 24mm x 36mm format of Oskar Barnack.




















The example shown here was among the first produced by Minolta and does not have the "Made in Occupied Japan" markings that were required of almost all products in other sectors of the post-war economy.  The shutter and slow timer work well as does the smooth focusing of the lens.  Although the design and build quality of this early post-war Japanese camera are very high, it was not always possible to access the best materials for construction.  This camera shows the pitting of the chrome plating around the lens mount which is characteristic of this period of construction.  This is similar to that problem encountered by Leica and the chrome plating failures in early post-war IIIc models.