Text Box:  VINTAGE MINIATURE BINOCULARS

Ursprünge der Japanische Miniatur Fernglas

Origines des Japonais jumelles miniatures

Истоки японского миниатюрного бинокль

Los orígenes de los prismáticos Japoneses en miniatura

Japanese External Reverse Porro Prism Binoculars. VIRTUAL MUSEUM

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TOR Lumion Japanese Miniature Binoculars, dating from Between the WorldWars. Very Unusual Green Color. TOR Lumion Japanische Miniaturferngläser, aus der Zeit Zwischen den Weltkriegen. TOR Lumion Binioculaires Japonaises Miniatures, d'entre-deux-Guerres. Couleur Verte très Inhabituelle. TOR Lumion Японский миниатюрный бинокуляр, от между мировыми войнами. Очень необычный зеленый цвет. TOR Lumion 世界 の戦争から日本のミニチュア双眼鏡。非常に珍しい緑色。 TOR Lumion Japanska Miniatyrbiniokulär, Från Mellan Världskriget. Mycket Ovanlig grön färg. TOR Lumion Binioculares en Miniatura Japoneses, de Entre las Guerras Mundiales. Color Verde muy Inusual. TOR Lumion Binioculars Miniatura Giapponese, tra le due Guerre Mondiali. Colore Verde Molto Insolito

TOR Lumion binoculars serial number 2006. Made prior to WWII. Very unusual original green painted finish Collection of Mark Ohno

I calculate that I have physically handled around 1,000 Japanese miniature binoculars and have viewed photos of another 20,000 or so. These are the first green painted Japanese miniature prismatic binoculars I’ve ever seen (I do have a green anodized post war pair), so they are a distinct oddity. It is not that the Japanese binoculars industry never painted optical products green. I own and have also seen lots of large Japanese WWII and pre WWII non hand held military binoculars that were painted green. (both large ship’s binoculars and trench periscope binoculars). But consumer marketing is all about catering to expectations. And I think (speculation) that prior to the explosion of green rubber armored binoculars in the 1970’s (copied from military models of around that time period and initiating a proliferation of all sorts of colors on binoculars) and even more so prior to WWII consumer and distribution expectations were that serious (and generally quite expensive) prismatic binoculars would be black. The more frivolous and much cheaper non prismatic opera glasses were acceptable in any color, and were often marketed to women with a conscious aspect of being seen using them where pose/ style/ appearance were more important than optical performance (most Galilean opera glasses have minimal optical performance) Years ago I used to go to stage plays. I sometimes saw people with opera glasses, which was considered a normal practice. Instead I brought along large high powered binoculars (definitely not considered conventional behavior). If the play was dull it opened up all sorts of new and entertaining aspects to the performance. The actors smiles and expressions as seen by eye or through opera glass when seen up close through high power binoculars were closer to strange contorted grimaces, and the stage lights made big drops of sweat roll down the actors faces and you could watch to see if they flicked them away by some movement. The reality that the binoculars revealed was very different from the calculated projections you were supposed to perceive at a distance. The 6-10 power magnification of miniature binoculars provide the same magnification of full size binoculars with the unobtrusive appearance of using small opera glasses. Lack of marketing materials for Japanese miniature binoculars in the interwar years precludes much analysis of the intended consumers (the 1940’s Oppelman catalog has them in with guns so male oriented). But we know by the ads and case designs that the marketing of the Fata Morgana binoculars in the 1920’s included expectations that a significant part of their market would be female. And the fact that sales outlets included jewelry reinforces that idea. Women have traditionally been saddled with imposed social expectations of propriety. For example the proliferation of large bottles of alcoholic patent medicines in the USA from the 1880’s through WWI marketed for woman’s troubles was actually a socially acceptable way for woman to drink liquor. l excavated some turn of the century dumps and the amount of liquor consumed for “woman’s troubles” was pretty impressive. In the 1930’s if a woman going to a stage play wanted to look at the wrinkles or sweat on actors faces or color of their eyes or the lipstick on their teeth then hauling out big binoculars would have gotten much odder looks than I ever got in the 1970’s, but these green pre war miniature binoculars would have seemed like another pair of ineffective opera glasses.