Hyperion Post War Japanese Miniature Binoculars (1947-1952 period) „Hyperion“ Miniaturferngläser sind vor dem Zweiten Weltkrieg in Japan (1947-1952). Jumelles Miniatures de «Hyperion» Fabriquées Après la Deuxieme Grande Guerre Mondiale (1947-1952). «Hyperion» миниатюрные бинокль выпуска после войны  мировой войны в Японии ( 1947-1953). Hyperion ミニチュア双眼鏡が2回目の世界大戦の前に日本で作られます (1947-1952). «Hyperion» Prismáticos en Miniatura Fabricados Después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial en Japón 1947-1952. «Hyperion» Binocolo Giapponese in Epoca Postbellica (Perioda 1947-1952)

United Binocular Co. Chicago ” binoculars serial number 9162, Made during Occupation period 1947-1952, marked made in occupied Japan”. Note early post war transition to use of chrome. Collection of  Mark Ohno

Text Box:  VINTAGE MINIATURE BINOCULARS
Text Box:    PAGE NAVIGATION: I WANT TO SEE:

Japanese External Reverse Porro Prism Binoculars. VIRTUAL MUSEUM

Ursprünge der Japanische Miniatur Fernglas

Origines des Japonais jumelles miniatures

Истоки японского миниатюрного бинокль

Los orígenes de los prismáticos Japoneses en miniatura

MARK OHNO

日本 のミニチュアの双眼鏡の起源

Miniature Binoculars Eyepieces . Okulare des Miniatur-Fernglases. Oculaires de Jumelles Miniatures. Окуляры миниатюрных биноклей. ミニチュア双眼鏡の接眼レンズ. Okular av Miniatyr Kikare. Oculairen van Miniatuur Verrekijker. Oculares de Binoculares en Miniature. Oculary do Binocolo in Miniatura.

Miniature binoculars were produced with a wide variety of eyepieces. As with all other physical descriptions of attributes and variants, the material of the eyepieces can help to define variants. After a time I came to realize visual analysis was probably inefficient and subject to errors as a method to determine and indicate the material, and particularly when some of eyepieces are in unworn condition, The nature of Japanese lacquer coatings makes it more difficult.

In order to analyze eyepieces with better accuracy, I recently (2017) sought a non destructive method to detect both ferrous and non ferrous eyepieces. I wanted to be able to distinguish plastic eyepieces from those that might be made of painted or plated brass or steel or plated or painted or anodized aluminum or zinc alloys. I recently determined that a “pin pointer” metal detector used in treasure hunting, metal detecting, and coin hunting would work well. As time permits I will retest eyepieces on binoculars in the collection to define plastic/metal content.

Plastic Eyepieces, Front, Rear, and side Views.

Brass eyepieces painted with Black Lacquer

Nickel plated brass combination eyepieces and focus rings

Plastic eyepieces

Rubber Eyepieces plus the typical focus ring configuration for rubber ring eyepieces

Case Study of Brand Practices of Japanese Miniature Binoculars . Fallstudie von Markenprakiken von Japanischen Miniatur-Furngläsern. Étude de Cas des Pratiques de la Marque de Jumelles Miniatures. Japonaises. Социологическое исследование японских миниатюрных Бинокль Марка практики. 日本 のミニ双眼鏡ブランドの実践事例. Estudio de caso de las Prácticas de Marca de los Prismaticos Japoneses en Miniatura. Studia di Casi di Pratiche di Marca di Binocoli Giapponesi in Miniatura.

The Japanese binoculars industry consisted of “assembling manufacturers”, or contract manufacturers, who assembled  binoculars from parts manufactured by themselves, or produced for them by subsidiary contractors. They transferred those binoculars to exporters or exporting trading companies, who in turn transferred them to importers or importing distributors in various countries. They then went to wholesale distributors, and then to retailers. Sometimes these entities assumed multiple commercial roles. “Brand” names were based on the preference of any of these entities. Details of these relationships for a particular brand name and model of binoculars is difficult to know 50 or 60 years later. But in most cases this information would not have been widely available even at the time it was occurring. Once in a while an opportunity arises which gives insights into how this all worked. Die japanische Fernglasindustrie bestand aus "Montageherstellern" oder Vertragsherstellern, die Ferngläser aus selbst gefertigten Teilen zusammensetzten oder sie von Tochterunternehmen herstellten. Sie übertrug diese Ferngläser auf Exporteure oder exportierte Handelsunternehmen, die sie wiederum an Importeure überführten oder Händler in verschiedenen Ländern einführten. Sie gingen dann zu Großhändlern und dann zu Einzelhändlern. Manchmal übernahmen diese Einheiten mehrere kommerzielle Rollen. "Marken" -Namen basieren auf der Präferenz von einer dieser Einheiten. Details dieser Beziehungen für eine bestimmte Marke und Modell des Fernglases ist schwer zu wissen, 50 oder 60 Jahre später. Aber in den meisten Fällen wären diese Informationen bis zum Zeitpunkt des Auftretens nicht weit verbreitet gewesen. In einer Weile entsteht eine Gelegenheit, die Einblicke in die Art und Weise gibt, wie das alles funktioniert. 'Industrie japonaise des jumelles était composée de «fabricants d'assemblage», ou de fabricants sous contrat, qui assemblaient des jumelles à partir de pièces fabriquées par eux-mêmes ou produites pour eux par des sous-traitants. Ils ont transféré ces jumelles à des exportateurs ou à des sociétés commerciales exportatrices, qui les ont transférées à des importateurs ou à des importateurs distributeurs dans divers pays. Ils sont ensuite allés chez les distributeurs en gros, puis chez les détaillants. Parfois, ces entités assument des rôles commerciaux multiples. Les noms de marque étaient basés sur la préférence de l'une de ces entités. Détails de ces relations pour une marque particulière et le modèle de jumelles est difficile à connaître 50 ou 60 ans plus tard. Mais dans la plupart des cas, ces informations n'auraient pas été largement disponibles même au moment où elles se produisaient. De temps en temps, une occasion se présente qui donne des idées sur la façon dont tout cela a fonctionné.  日本 の双眼鏡業界は、自社製の部品から双眼鏡を組み立てるか、または子会社の請負業者によって製作された「組立メーカー」または契約製造業者で構成されていました。彼らはこれらの双眼鏡を輸出業者または輸出商社に移し、次にそれらを輸出業者または輸出業者に輸出しています。その後、卸売業者に、次に小売業者に行きました。これらの事業体は、複数の商業的役割を担うこともありました。 「ブランド」の名前は、これらのエンティティのいずれかの設定に基づいていました。特定のブランド名と双眼鏡のモデルに関するこれらの関係の詳細は、 50 年後 または 60 年後 には分かりません。しかし、ほとんどの場合、この情報は、それが発生しているときでさえ広く利用可能ではなかったであろう。いったんこの機会がどのように働くかについての洞察を与える機会があります. Японские биноклей промышленность состояла из "сборки производителей", или контрактных производителей, которые собранными биноклей из частей, изготовленных самостоятельно, или произведенных для них вспомогательными подрядчиками. Они переносят эти бинокль экспортеров или экспортеров торговых компаний, которые в свою очередь, передал их импортеров или импортеров дистрибьюторов в различных странах. Затем они пошли к оптовым торговцам, а затем к розничным торговцам. Иногда эти объекты предполагается несколько коммерческих ролей. Названия "Марка" были основаны на предпочтения какой-либо из этих лиц. Подробности этих отношений для конкретной марки и модели биноклей трудно узнать 50 или 60 лет спустя. Но в большинстве случаев эта информация не была бы широко доступны даже в то время он был произошедшим. После того, как в какое-то время появляется возможность, которая дает понимание того, как все это работало. La industria japonesa de binoculares consistía en "fabricantes de ensamblaje", o fabricantes de contrato, que ensamblaban prismáticos a partir de piezas fabricadas por ellos mismos o producidos para ellos por contratistas subsidiarios. Den japanska kikare industrin bestod av "montering tillverkare", eller kontraktstillverkare, som samlats kikare från delar som tillverkas av dem själva eller har framställts för dem genom dotterbolag entreprenörer. De överfördes dessa kikare till exportörer eller exporterande handel företag, som i sin tur överförs dem till importörer eller importerar distributörer i olika länder. De gick sedan till partihandlare, och sedan till återförsäljare. Ibland kan dessa enheter antas flera kommersiella roller. "Varumärke" namn baserades på preferens för någon av dessa enheter. Närmare uppgifter om dessa förhållanden för ett visst märke och modell av kikare är svårt att veta 50 eller 60 år senare. Men i de flesta fall denna information inte skulle ha varit allmänt tillgängliga även vid den tidpunkt då det förekommer. Då och då tillfälle ges som ger insikter i hur detta allt fungerade. Trasladaron esos prismáticos a exportadores o empresas comerciales exportadoras, que a su vez los transfirieron a importadores o importadores de distribuidores en varios países. A continuación, fueron a distribuidores mayoristas, y luego a los minoristas. A veces estas entidades asumían múltiples funciones comerciales. Los nombres de marca se basaban en la preferencia de cualquiera de estas entidades. Detalles de estas relaciones para un nombre de marca particular y el modelo de binoculares es difícil de saber 50 o 60 años después. Pero en la mayoría de los casos esta información no habría sido ampliamente disponible incluso en el momento en que estaba ocurriendo. De vez en cuando surge una oportunidad que da una idea de cómo todo funcionó.

Manufacturer: ?

Japan Exporter: ISI (?)

USA Importer: Swift Instruments, Inc

Brand Imprint: Swift

Model: model no. 730, “Pointer” 7x18

Serial # 14-781743 silk screen markings

US Distributor: Swift through multiple wholesale distributors

Retailers: Multiple

Note: With a serial number 58,452 later than the Stoddards example, Swift had changed from rotary engraving to the cheaper silk screen markings, which are flaking off these binoculars with some markings missing.

Manufacturer: Toa Kōgaku Kōgyō Kabushiki-geisha, aka: 東亜光学株式会社

Manufacturer code marked: JB001

Japan Exporter: ISI (?)

USA Importer: Swift instruments, Inc.

Brand Imprint: Ferrant-Dege, Inc.

Model: “Pointer” 7x18

Serial # 14-722697 engraved marking

US Distributor: No, importer contract to retailer

Retailers: Ferranti-Dege (Camera store) 1300 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Manufacturer: Toa Kōgaku Kōgyō Kabushiki-geisha, aka: 東亜光学株式会社

Manufacturer code marked: JB001

Japan Exporter: ISI (?)

USA Importer: Swift Instruments, Inc

Brand Imprint: STODDARDS BOSTON

Model: model no. 730, 7x18

Serial # 14-723291 enraved marking

US Distributor: No, importer contract to retailer

Retailers: Stoddards Cutlery, 352 Watertown St, Newton, Massachusetts, USA

Manufacturer: Meiji Sego Kōgaku Kabushiki-geisha, aka: 明治精工株式会社

Japan Exporter: ISI (?)

USA Importer: Swift Instruments, Inc

Brand Imprint: Swift

Model: model no. 730, “Pointer” 7x18

Serial # #3-710006 engraved marking

US Distributor: Swift through multiple wholesale distributors

Retailers: Multiple

Note: Probably predates others on this page, with a 3 prefix (rather than 14 prefix) and with engraved markings.

Manufacturer: Toa Kōgaku Kōgyō

Japan Exporter: ?

USA Importer: Swift Instruments, Inc

Brand Imprint: Swift

Model: model no. 709, “Sport” 6x15

Serial # 14-683093

US Distributor: Swift through multiple wholesale distributors

Retailers: Multiple

 

Manufacturer: Toa Kōgaku Kōgyō

Japan Exporter: ISI (?) USA Importer: Swift Instruments, Inc

Brand Imprint: L.L. Bean, Inc

Model: model no.709, 6x15

Serial # 14-683935 engraved markings

US Distributor: No, importer contract to retailer

Retailers: L.L. Bean (outdoor outfitter) Freeport, Maine, USA

German Binoculars Market. Ferngläse markt. Marché des Jumelles Allemandes. Tyska Kikare Marknaden. Mercado de Prismaticos Aleman.

It is widely recognized how Japanese export binoculars came to dominate the US market after WWII (between 1954 and 1973 Japanese binoculars captured 90% of the US binoculars market) despite the US having a domestic binoculars manufacturing industry. And it is widely recognized how Japanese export binoculars came to dominate the UK market after the 1962-1965 Japanese binoculars importation quotas ceased, despite the UK having a domestic binoculars manufacturing industry. It seems less remarked upon how this same scenario was repeated in many other countries. By 1963 82% of all binoculars sold in Germany were Japanese (per Retrowow), despite Germany having a domestic binoculars manufacturing industry. A similar situation probably occurred in Canada, Australia, and throughout Europe. A similar thing is now occurring with Chinese manufactured binoculars.

United Post War Japanese Miniature Binoculars (1947-1952 period). „United“ Miniaturferngläser sind vor dem Zweiten Weltkrieg in Japan (1947-1952). Jumelles Miniatures de «United» Fabriquées Après la Deuxieme Grande Guerre Mondiale (1947-1952). «United» миниатюрные бинокль выпуска после войны мировой войны в Японии ( 1947-1953). United ミニチュア双眼鏡が2回目の世界大戦の前に日本で作られます (1947-1952). «United» Prismáticos en Miniatura Fabricados Después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial en Japón 1947-1952. «United» Binocolo Giapponese in Epoca Postbellica (Perioda 1947-1952)

An Example of AOCo / Asahi Optical Co. Binoculars Given Away as a Gift by Music Corp of America. Ein Beispiel f ϋ r AOCo-Ferngläser, die von Music Corp of America als Geschenk Vershenkt Wurden.  Une Exemple de Jumelles AOCo Offertes en Cadeau par Music Corp of America. Пример биноклей AOCo, представленных в качестве подарка music Corp of America. Music corp of America xxx による贈り物としての AOCo 双眼鏡 の例 . Een voorbeeld van AOCo-verrekijker weggegeven als cadeau door Music Corp of America. Ett Exempel på AOCo-Kikare ges Bort Som en Present av Music Corp of America. Un Ejemplo des PrismaticosAOCo Regalados por Music Corp of America.

These AOCo / Asahi Optical Co Jupiter Senior binoculars were used by MCA (Music Corporation of America) as a corporate Christmas gift in December 1958 and Happy New Year gift in January 1959, and they are marked as such, along with the same MCA globe pattern corporate logo design that Music Corporation of America is documented as using in 1958. MCA was formed in 1924, and by 1958 MCA was a top talent agency with very well known clients such as Jimmy Stuart, Rock Hudson, Doris Day, and Alfred Hitchcock. And by 1958 MCA was also a television production firm producing hit TV shows such as Wagon Train, Leave it to Beaver, GE Theater, and Armour Theater, and in addition MCS owned the Paramont Pictures pre 1950 Film Library. 1958 was a big year for MCA: in 1958 they purchased the 432 acre Universal Theater production lot, and in 1958 they also took their stock public on the New York Stock exchange.

United Binocular Co. Chicago marked binoculars serial number 9184, Made during Occupation period 1947-1952. marked made in occupied Japan Note early post war transition to use of chrome. Also marked  “ Hercules ” and marked with a logo associated with that brand. Collection of  Mark Ohno. Even though these binoculars these United Binocular Co. binoculars are numbered only 22 after the similar binoculars above, they are marked differently, with the addition of the “ Hercules ” marking and with a logo associated with that brand on the right prism cover. 

In addition to being unusual in being dated, and being associate with an identified organization, they also date AOCo serial #188251 to mid/late production 1958.

Hyperion binoculars serial number 2645. Made during Occupation period 1947-1952,Pre war characteristics. Collection of Mark Ohno

POSTWAR

Aroma Post War Japanese Miniature Binoculars (1947-1952 period). „Aroma“ Miniaturferngläser sind vor dem Zweiten Weltkrieg in Japan (1947-1952). Jumelles Miniatures de «Aroma» Fabriquées Après la Deuxieme Grande Guerre Mondiale (1947-1952). «Aroma» миниатюрные бинокль выпуска после войны  мировой войны в Японии ( 1947-1953). Aroma ミニチュア双眼鏡が2回目の世界大戦の前に日本で作られます (1947-1952). «Aroma»  Prismáticos en Miniatura Fabricados Después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial en Japón 1947-1952. «Aroma» Binocolo in Miniature Giapponese del Dopoguerra (Periodo 1947-1952)

Aroma binoculars serial number 12062.Made during Occupation period. Collection of Mark Ohno

POSTWAR

POSTWAR

An Example of How Pre War Japanese Binoculars Change Ownership . Early 20th century “JOICO Victor” 6x Binoculars with an Interesting Documented History . „JOICO Victor“ 6x Fernglas von Anfang des 20. Jahrhunderts mit einer interessanten dokumentierte Geschichte. Un Exemple de la Façon Dont des Jumelles Changer les Propriétaires. « JOICO Victor » 6x Jumelles du Début du 20e Siècle avec un Intéressant Historique Documenté. Ett Exempel På hur Gamla Japanska Kikare Byter Ägare. Början av 1900-talet „Joico Victor” 6x Kikare Med en Interressant Dokumenterand Historia. Un Ejemplo de Cómo los Prismáticos Cambian de Dueño. Principos del Siglo 20 « JOICO Victor » 6x Unos Prismáticos con Una Interesante Historia Documentada. Binocolo do « JOICO Victor » 6x del Primo Ventesimo Secolo con Interessante Documentazione Storica.

Pre War (conventional non miniature ) Joico Victor #4 6x binoculars with WWII Capture Documentation and spring loaded ocular shields. Serial Number 25,615 Collection of Mark Ohno

These are NOT one of the miniature reverse porro prism M-Type on configuration binoculars that this website is about, and they are a binocular with a conventional body similar to WWI Zeiss models. But I like how these particular binoculars illustrate a lot of factors inherent in binocular development, and in how binoculars can change hands in all sorts of unusual ways affected by events. According to the Nikon website and Hans Braakhuis’s History of Nikon, this “Victor” model and design was inherited from Fujii Lens Seizosho when Nippon Kogaku K. K. (later named Nikon) was formed in 1917. “Victor” had been a name chosen by Fujii as an export binocular name, and the name was presumably chosen for it’s military connotations. The Fujji Victor was considered a luxury model, as it cost the equivalent of nearly 2 months wages for a junior level bank salaried staff member (salaryman). JOICO is J apan O ptical I ndustry Co , which is the literal English translation of Nippon Kogaku K. K., and was used as a brand name for a short time. The use of “JOICO Victor” as a brand was apparently criticized within Japan for not having a more Japanese derivation, and the “Victor” model was quickly renamed “Tenyu” (Help from Heaven) and was sold primarily as a military model. According to leading Nikon binocular historian Hans Braakhuis, the “JOICO” trademark was only used 1917-1921. So these pre-Nikon binoculars that I acquired at a Massachusetts gun show 25 years ago were manufactured immediately after the first World War. They are documented as having been brought home during WWII as a captured Japanese military item by Major Sherwin H, Ricker of the US 143rd Field Artillery Battalion, which was a 105mm artillery unit, and was part of the US 40th Division. It was involved in operations in Luzon and southern Philippines in 1944-1945, including the Lingayen Gulf invasion of January 1945. When Japanese troops occupied the Philippines in 1941, any binoculars that had been held by military or police units or plantation owners or the general civilian population would probably have been requisitioned, including any 1919 JOICO Victor binoculars anyone had. Similarly, when Japanese military units were formed up in Japan late in the war they probably commandeered any binoculars available domestically and suitable for military use to be used as substitute standard issue, and officers would probably bring any suitable family owned binoculars with them (they also brought family owned “Samauri” sword blades, reworked with regulation handles). US artillery majors in 1945 probably did not get many opportunities to be the first to inspect Japanese casualties, but the front line infantry troops who did so routinely sold or bartered any binoculars, swords, pistols, compasses, gold teeth or anything else that they acquired to the officers and other non front line troops eager for souvenirs. According to Charles Strasser in “The Origins of Japanese Trade Supremacy”, …”Japanese binoculars, with their superior lens coatings ...were among the most sought after trophies of American naval officers”…in WWII. US troops have always been absolutely notorious for their insatiable appetite for “captured souvenirs”. And they still are. For example, a US Afghan war vet provided me with an interesting Kevlar body armor vest made in the USA by a military contractor with dated tags written in Pashto. It was manufactured, transported to the war, was transferred to pro US allied Afghan forces, was reallocated to anti US Afghan fighters, was recaptured by US forces, and then was then brought back to the US by that US soldier as a “captured souvenir” (and all within the space of 6 months). Now that is impressive U.S. government SNAFU logistics efficiency. Anyway, similar to the travel and ownership changes with that body armor, these Joico binoculars were produced when WWI hostilities had barely ceased, were used twenty five years later by a Japanese soldier in the Philippines, presumably survived his death and passed into one or more US soldier’s hands, were brought to the United States, and probably upon that soldier’s death they were resold, came into my hands, and are now being viewed worldwide as an example of how one must never underestimate the activity of war as a factor in the redistribution of goods, particularly binoculars, and of how binoculars, including non military versions, have always been closely intertwined and influenced by various military and other geopolitical events. The history of objects is the history of people.

US WWII in-theater souvenir stand for Japanese war trophies. Islanders and combat troops would scour the combat areas for items, and then barter them to the entrepreneur, who would resell them to rear echelon troops. Painted “Trench art” embellishments such as Japanese flags were painted on helmets and trophy skulls to make them more appealing and desirable (as in photo). Islanders also manufactured inscribed machetes as souvenirs to barter or sell to the troops.

Ensign Post War Japanese Miniature Binoculars (1947-1952 period). „Ensign“ Miniaturferngläser sind vor dem Zweiten Weltkrieg in Japan (1947-1952). Jumelles Miniatures de «Ensign» Fabriquées Après la Deuxieme Grande Guerre Mondiale (1947-1952). «Ensign» миниатюрные бинокль выпуска после войны  мировой войны в Японии ( 1947-1953). Ensign ミニチュア双眼鏡が2回目の世界大戦の前に日本で作られます (1947-1952). «Ensign » Prismáticos en Miniatura Fabricados Después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial en Japón 1947-1952. «Ensign » Binocolo Giapponese in Epoca Postbellica (Perioda 1947-1952)

Note the close serial numbers on the two binoculars. Die Seriennummern für diese Ferngläser sind nahe bei- einander. Les numéros de série sur ces jumelles sont proches l'un de l'autre.  Серийные номера на эти бинокли, близко друг к другу. これらの双眼鏡のシリアル番号は、ほぼ同じです。 Los números de serie de estos prismáticos son cerca una de la otra.

SERIAL NUMBER 7230

SERIENNUMMER 7230

NUMÉRO DE SÉRIE 7230

серийный номер 7230

シリアル番号 7230

NÚMER DE SERIE 7230

NUMERO DI SERIE 7230

SERIAL NUMBER 2737

SERIENNUMMER 2737

NUMÉRO DE SÉRIE 2737

серийный номер 2737

シリアル番号 2737

NÚMER DE SERIE 2737

NUMERO DI SERIE 2737

POSTWAR

Ensign binoculars serial number #7230 with case, and also serial number #7237. Made during Occupation period 1947-1952 Collection of Mark Ohno\ ***It is entertaining to get 2 binoculars 66 years later from 2 different places that were 7 numbers apart on the original production line***