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Asahi Pentax

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#1 Stew44

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 10:43 AM

I have recently become a little more focused on Pentax.  My primary observing eyepiece pairs are Pentax SMC orthos, having bested every other eyepiece type and coatings combination I've owned including top end Zeiss AOs and TMB Monos.  Owned four Pentax achromats, binoculars, and still own a nice PZ1p 35mm film camera.  There are articles here on CN discussing Pentax telescopes, but mostly they are about the Jupiter line that was a primary export brand through many US importers.

 

Pentax started out in 1919, after Nikon but before Goto.  They made eyeglass lens.  Made the first camera lens in 1931.  Ads for telescopes start in 1953 with a simple alt-az yoke mount 60mm and also this one from 1957 for the 50mm tabletop scope (along side Nikon). 

 

Pentax Jupiter ad 1953.jpg

 

Pentax Jupiter Ad 1057.jpg

 

Shusuki Kojima of Goto and later Astro Optical fame worked at Asahi Pentax after leaving Goto from 1952-54.  He may have created the telescope product lineup and sales department if there is nothing in the way of documented earlier Pentax astronomical products.  Most of those here on CN appear to be later than the adverts above.

 

I would very much appreciate any timeline adds that come from either scope serial and date of import or really any other documented sales history through the 1970's.  Of course another chance to put some pictures of these fine telescopes out here for our enjoyment.  Especially would like to see them in case with all accessories, along with being set up.  The Pentax I own currently are 1980s.

 

Our Japanese friends are also looking into history.  I think will can fill an informational void here.  Thanks for your contributions.

 

 


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#2 Russell Smith

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 11:11 AM

Very interesting thread. It is my understanding that ASAHI OPTICAL did not use the PENTAX name until 1957. I have some documentation on the laptop at home.
Also I have a 60x800 refractor with the Colonial name and a 1955 import tag.
Will follow up tonight if it helps.
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#3 Bomber Bob

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 02:31 PM

IIRC, Pentax was originally a German company.

 

My first 35mm SLR was a Pentax K-1000.  ALL manual, so I had to learn how to set stuff to get decent pictures.  I didn't upgrade to a Canon AE-1 until 12 years later; and, after my first attempts at astrophotography with it, I missed the old K!  The "J" series refractors were better than average for 1980s imports.  I bet my Bushnell Banner 1000 shared more than just hardware castings & eyepieces with them.


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#4 photoracer18

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 04:45 PM

IIRC, Pentax was originally a German company.
 
Where did you come up with that info? What is now Ricoh Pentax was founded as Asahi Kogaku Goshi Kaisha in 1919 in a suburb of Tokyo making spectacles, which they still do after 100 years. No relation to the company known as Pentacon from Germany. The name Pentax did not exist until 1957 when they used it to name the worlds first SLR with a pentaprism viewfinder (PENTAprism refleX camera).


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#5 Stew44

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 04:46 PM

Pentax was founded as Asahi Optical Joint Stock Company in Otsuka, Tokyo in 1919 by Kumao Kaijawa.  So not sure JW where the German angle came from.  The German opticians from Zeiss didn't arrive at Nippon Kogaku until 1921.  The company made eyeglass lenses.  In 1923 they broadened to a projection lens for movies produced in Japan.  As I said above, in 1931 they made lenses for cameras; the first for the company that came to be known as Konica-Minolta.  In 1938 the company was established as Asahi OpticalCo., Ltd, perhaps to open the door to exportation of products.

 

During the war they still made lenses for cameras.  After the war they expanded into binoculars as well.  In 1948 they released a set of compact 6x15 binoculars christened the "615 Jupiter".

 

Pentax 6x15 Jupiter Binocs.png

 

Became a leader in coatings technology from the 1950's on.

 

From Mr. Blue Rodents over on Galakuma's forum we learn that the Jupiter 6cm telescope was already an exportable product in 1951.  It was developed by Kozabuki Suzuki and incorporated a fork type mount made by Nippon Semitsu.  Asahi Optical and Nippon Semitsu exported the scope as the first Jupiter astronomy product.

 

Mr. Blue Rodents also notes that Shusuke Kojima was very close with Kozabuki Suzuki and came to Asahi Optical to develop an equatorital mount for a 15cm telescope.  When Mr. Kojima started Astro Optical, the equatorial mount used for his 10cm refractor was apparently a scaled down version of the mount he designed for Asahi Optical's 15cm telescope.

 

Asahi Optical launched the Asahiflex, the worlds first Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera in 1954.

 

Pentax Asahiflex.png

 

 

 


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#6 Stew44

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 04:49 PM

The first camera known as an Asahi Pentax was launched in 1957, but according to Ricoh Imaging website, the Asahi Pentax Corporation was established in 1955 as a sales company.



#7 Stew44

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 04:58 PM

Mr. Blue Rodents also provided patent information concerning Mr. Suzuki's wonderful Alt -Az mount that showed up in a number of CN Pentax posts.  The mount patent is dated Showa 33 or 1958.

 

Pentax mount patent 1.jpg

 

Pentax mount patent 2.jpg

 

It turns out we can also thank Mr. Suzuki for our polar alignment scopes placed within the polar axis of our mount.  He patented that in 1958 as well.

 

pentax polar alignment scope..jpg

 

 


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#8 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 05:57 PM

: goodjob:

 

Stew: .

 

Excellent thank information. Keep it coming. 

 

I had two of the 60 mm  x 800 mm with the patented alt-az mount.  Great optics and a sturdy mount worthy of the optics.  The tripods legs are the only one who by the standards and of the day.

 

4052199-Pentax 3.jpg
 
 
Jon

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#9 Bomber Bob

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 05:57 PM

Where did you come up with that info?

 

"The name "Pentax" was originally a registered trademark of the East German VEB Zeiss Ikon (from "Pentaprism" and "Contax") and acquired by the Asahi Optical company in 1957." -- Wikipedia, Pentax


Edited by Bomber Bob, 22 April 2019 - 06:00 PM.

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#10 Russell Smith

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 09:07 PM

 Found this. 

Historical Dictionary of Japanese Business Page 344

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Edited by Russell Smith, 22 April 2019 - 09:11 PM.

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#11 Stew44

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 09:18 PM

So Pentax is basically a camera company for most of its history at this point (although Ricoh is a copier company).  What I'm really interested in is the development of its astronomy products and especially the early parts.   Since I own a couple 80's achromats I'd like to know about their development as well, but really would like to get a feel for the late 50's and 60's when all these Jupiters came over with a bunch of different import names.  Were all the serials running continuous no matter whose import name was on the label?  Was the patented mount above the only mount offered besides the yoke mount from early 50s until Pentax moved to a solid equatorial contender?

 

Perhaps they really are Goto-like in that they are primarily focused on cameras (Goto - planetariums) and when push came to shove the telescopes were shelved in favor of sports optics.


Edited by Stew44, 22 April 2019 - 09:19 PM.


#12 Stephen Kennedy

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 10:17 PM

This is my Pentax MS-5 GEM that I purchased in 1988 while stationed in Japan, the OTA is a Mikage 210 Newtonian reflector. I still use this telescope every clear night. The Pentax MS-5 has a periodic error of +/- 1.5 arc seconds which was amazing for the 1980s and even now is only matched by 10 Micron, AP and SB.

IMG_1168 (3).JPG
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#13 Kasmos

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 10:32 PM

On the Japanese Retro Telescope website this image is attached to the Asahi Optical Co. brochure dated 1955 with the heading US/Domestic, but I doubt it's part of the same catalog or the same year since it uses the name Pentax. I wonder what year the bottom pages in Japanese are from?

 

Here' the link to the source:

http://yumarin7.saku.../Pentax1955.pdf

 

Asahi Pentax 55.jpg


Edited by Kasmos, 22 April 2019 - 10:37 PM.

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#14 Russell Smith

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 10:35 PM

 

: goodjob:

 

Stew: .

 

Excellent thank information. Keep it coming. 

 

I had two of the 60 mm  x 800 mm with the patented alt-az mount.  Great optics and a sturdy mount worthy of the optics.  The tripods legs are the only one who by the standards and of the day.

 

 
 
 
Jon

 

Would love to have an original mount and tripod.

It is very beutiful. 

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#15 Russell Smith

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 10:37 PM

The truth is out there.



#16 Russell Smith

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 10:57 PM

So Pentax is basically a camera company for most of its history at this point (although Ricoh is a copier company).  What I'm really interested in is the development of its astronomy products and especially the early parts.   Since I own a couple 80's achromats I'd like to know about their development as well, but really would like to get a feel for the late 50's and 60's when all these Jupiters came over with a bunch of different import names.  Were all the serials running continuous no matter whose import name was on the label?  Was the patented mount above the only mount offered besides the yoke mount from early 50s until Pentax moved to a solid equatorial contender?

 

Perhaps they really are Goto-like in that they are primarily focused on cameras (Goto - planetariums) and when push came to shove the telescopes were shelved in favor of sports optics.

I found very little information.

still searching. 

This one is mine and I hope helps with a timeline for some of these early instruments.

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#17 strdst

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 12:12 AM

Some photos just in case...

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#18 Stew44

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 07:00 AM

Some photos just in case...

Could you take a couple more of focuser label and eyepieces included?  No inspection stickers?



#19 Stew44

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 07:04 AM

I found very little information.

still searching. 

This one is mine and I hope helps with a timeline for some of these early instruments.

 

Thanks, I take it legs don't fit in case?  What eyepieces came with scope?  Perhaps a picture of those alone?

 

On the Japanese Retro Telescope website this image is attached to the Asahi Optical Co. brochure dated 1955 with the heading US/Domestic, but I doubt it's part of the same catalog or the same year since it uses the name Pentax. I wonder what year the bottom pages in Japanese are from?

 

Here' the link to the source:

http://yumarin7.saku.../Pentax1955.pdf

 

attachicon.gif Asahi Pentax 55.jpg

Asahi Pentax incorporated with that very name in 1955 so certainly possible that those pages are a part of that catalog.  However in looking at the actual brochure the 60mm shown is the yoke mount, so likely the alt-az mount pages are from a later time.  I don't see any date info on them.  Will query Galakuma as it's his site.


Edited by Stew44, 23 April 2019 - 07:08 AM.

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#20 Russell Smith

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 07:37 AM

Thanks, I take it legs don't fit in case?  What eyepieces came with scope?  Perhaps a picture of those alone?

 

Asahi Pentax incorporated with that very name in 1955 so certainly possible that those pages are a part of that catalog.  However in looking at the actual brochure the 60mm shown is the yoke mount, so likely the alt-az mount pages are from a later time.  I don't see any date info on them.  Will query Galakuma 

The legs and tripod hub were missing.(made into a lamp years ago?)

Have since been replaced.

It came with three eps. I'll post photo tonight after I get home.

 

Asahi optical started using the pentax name in 1957 as I understand it.


Edited by Russell Smith, 23 April 2019 - 08:22 AM.


#21 Chuck Hards

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 07:43 AM

Here's a link to mine, I posted it a year or so ago:  LINK


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#22 Stew44

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 09:49 AM

I've gone through a lot of postings and gathered some serial numbers.  First and foremost I don't think your possible Asahi Optical/Jupiter/Pentax scope is one of those unless it has a serial engraved on the focuser or stamped on focuser label.

 

Secondly I don't think it matters who the scope was branded under.  Serials appear to run consecutively, and like Zeiss, it doesn't matter what aperture.  All run from smaller to larger.

 

Charlie B mentioned 1958 as switchover to all Asahi Pentax branding IIRC, but then I think he has an Asahi Pentax branded scope from January 1956.  So maybe after incorporation as Asahi Pentax in 1955 they started labeling scopes that way and no longer branding them?

 

If anyone has another serial and can provide pic of label and mounting, and of course any inspection sticker info that would be great!

 

Pentax Serials.jpg


Edited by Stew44, 23 April 2019 - 06:22 PM.

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#23 Chuck Hards

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 10:59 AM

I've gone through a lot of postings and gathered some serial numbers.  First and foremost I don't think your possible Asahi Optical/Jupiter/Pentax scope is one of those unless it has a serial engraved on the focuser or stamped on focuser label.

 

 

285931, see my link, above.


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#24 CharlieB

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 11:03 AM

The 1956 Asahi is a 40mm scope labeled Jupiter, which is the precursor to the Asahi label. I also have a Jupiter 50/600 and a Asahi Pentax 50/600. I'll post photos and the inspection label in a bit.

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#25 CharlieB

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 11:16 AM

Here are the photos & inspection label.  The inspection label is for the Jupiter 40mm.

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