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60x800 Classic Refractors - Who Made 'Em?

Classic Equipment Refractor
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#51 Kasmos

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Posted 18 January 2022 - 03:29 AM

We can't have a discussion on these telescopes without seeing these specs from Towa.

 

IIRC, the following photos are from a catalog called: Japanese Optical Precision Instruments 1961-1962

 

They were reformatted to better fit the post

 

Towa-AT2-1962.jpg

You never know if catalog photos truely represent the year model but other than the wood tray held by chains,

it matches my Crescent including the chunky style cell that is said to be from the 1959-61 period.

It also features the 24x5 white finder that is on many later 60mm Towas.

The box layout also matches the Crecent's. Note that it's positioned with the lid down and the handle up.

 

Towa-ET1 61-62.jpg

Though branded by others, most people probably associate the ET1 with the Lafayette 342.

The OTA is the same as the AT2 but the later ET1s like this one have a 30mm finder similar to those seen on the later Sears.

Their GEMs are interesting and the layout of the mechanics is reminiscent of a early Unitron 128

Unlike the AT2 it's shown with the slimmer objective cell.

I may be incorrect but kind of doubt they were offered past the early 60s.

Mostly because there seemed to be a evolution of the design of the Towa GEM in those days.

 

My guess is that AT2 designates Alt-Az Telescope #2  and ET1 Equatorial #1

It also leads me to believe that the Alt-Az versions without slow motion controls might have been designated AT1.

If so do these designations mean they were Towas first versions of 60mm telescopes?

 

A 60/700mm 9TE style of scope is on the same page as these and is designated as AT7 

Perhaps the 7 is in relation to it having a 700mm focal length?


Edited by Kasmos, 18 January 2022 - 01:57 PM.

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#52 Kasmos

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Posted 18 January 2022 - 10:57 PM

ATCO may not be the first name you associate with these scopes but they also offered them.

 

AT-02 copy.jpg

This one is old enough to have a engraved focuser and is marked as a 62mm

ATCO called this model the 1245-W. The top screw is left unpainted at this time.

 

AT-01 copy.jpg

The box layout is one of the older styles but at some point it appears they overlaped with the ones associated with later ones.

Note the two piece hinged metal strap on the right that keeps the lid from opening too far.

This might be the oldest type as we see some with chains, and then later with a fabric strap.

Also noet that this scope has a simple yoke mount.

 

AT-04 Access.jpg

The accessories are pretty typical of what you usually see with these telescopes.

A nice plastic bodied Diagonal, an open design Porro Prism, and 4 flat top ringed EPs.

This style of EPs are one of the things that got people going down the Nihon Seiko path


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#53 jragsdale

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Posted 18 January 2022 - 11:25 PM

The box layout is one of the older styles but at some point it appears they overlaped with the ones associated with later ones.

Note the two piece hinged metal on the right that keeps the lid from opening too far. This might be the oldest type as we see some with chains, and then later with a fabric strap.

That's the same style box and metal hinges as my Monolux I-7. Do we have a photos of any of the I-6 boxes?

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Edited by jragsdale, 18 January 2022 - 11:58 PM.

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#54 jragsdale

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 01:04 AM

And speaking of the I-6, I noticed that that was the only scope out of all of these older Towa ones with the black finder that had a different focus knob. I'm sure all the vendors shared suppliers, so we see things like the regular focus knobs on the left (1957 and up) look a lot like the Asahi focus knobs. And the folding tripod legs with the stabbey feet from 56-59/60 look a lot like Unitron. Do the older I-6 knobs share lineage with any other scope?

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#55 Kasmos

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 03:22 AM

And speaking of the I-6, I noticed that that was the only scope out of all of these older Towa ones with the black finder that had a different focus knob. I'm sure all the vendors shared suppliers, so we see things like the regular focus knobs on the left (1957 and up) look a lot like the Asahi focus knobs. And the folding tripod legs with the stabbey feet from 56-59/60 look a lot like Unitron. Do the older I-6 knobs share lineage with any other scope?

The knobs on the I-6 you showed above are the same or very similar to the very early Unitrons ('51 to '53).

I know I've seen them on some other makes but I'll probably only find them by accident.

The two types you posted above are not the style of knobs. There's at least one other style.

 

This Towa Tokyo also has those knobs.

Towa-Tokyo-Focuser.jpg

I wonder how old one has to be to have these knobs or was it just a switch in supply?

Towa-Tokyo-1 copy.jpg

It's was the only Towa Tokyo AT2 I saw until Piggyback (Stefan), posted his last Feb. and his has the more common knobs which you posted above.

 

Here his post (#38) for reference

https://www.cloudyni...-em/?p=11642308

 

His has the folding legs with the later box layout. I believe the prior owner told him it was from 1956.

 

CharlieB has a interesting silver Selsi with knobs that were often used on later Towas

274-CB-02 copy.jpg

It's the only silver one I've seen and of course it has the mount that seems to be unique to only Selsis.

274-CB-01 copy.jpg

The silver paint, the dark legs, and the knobs, make me think it's from possibly '65 or later.

I don't know the true era of these knobs but I have a Tasco 6TE that has them.

It has an inspection sticker that might help me narrow that down.


Edited by Kasmos, 19 January 2022 - 03:28 AM.

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#56 jragsdale

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 03:36 AM

I wonder how old one has to be to have these knobs or was it just a switch in supply?

I know the running theory was that I-6 = 1956 and I-7 = 1957. If that Towa Tokyo scope claimed to be 1956 and in fact had the older style focus knobs, that seems to confirm that fact. Might be a good way to decipher between the 1956 and the 1957-1958 scopes that have the engraved focuser.

 

As for CharlieB's scope; I think any scope that has a circle T is probably outside the scope of this thread since we're trying to nail down the specifics of the early Towa stuff pre-circle T, right?



#57 jragsdale

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 03:41 AM

The knobs on the I-6 you showed above are the same or very similar to the very early Unitrons ('51 to '53).

Yes! Here's a 1953 Unitron.

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#58 Kasmos

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 03:46 AM

I know the running theory was that I-6 = 1956 and I-7 = 1957. If that Towa Tokyo scope claimed to be 1956 and in fact had the older style focus knobs, that seems to confirm that fact. Might be a good way to decipher between the 1956 and the 1957-1958 scopes that have the engraved focuser.

 

As for CharlieB's scope; I think any scope that has a circle T is probably outside the scope of this thread since we're trying to nail down the specifics of the early Towa stuff pre-circle T, right?

The '56 was Piggyback's with the newer knobs. As for the ones with Circle T, I personally find them all of interest as their characteristics can also vary, and at the same time they just nail down who built the unmarked ones. There's no question in my mind Towa did and Chuck's scope you posted pretty much proves it....so should we quit now? grin.gif   


Edited by Kasmos, 19 January 2022 - 03:46 AM.


#59 Kasmos

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 03:52 AM

Yes! Here's a 1953 Unitron.

That's another reason some thought they were a pre-Unitron Nihon Seiko, but does a knob prove anything? The bottom line is, what other maker built Telescopes that looked so much like them other than Towa? Some might say Asahi, but when you go over every detail the Asahis are completely different, and IMO that's not just an opinion. lol.gif


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#60 jragsdale

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 04:11 AM

The '56 was Piggyback's with the newer knobs. As for the ones with Circle T, I personally find them all of interest as their characteristics can also vary, and at the same time they just nail down who built the unmarked ones. There's no question in my mind Towa did and Chuck's scope you posted pretty much proves it....so should we quit now? grin.gif   

I do think we are almost at the end of this research project as I think we've routed out the specific scopes in question and have definitively shown they are made by Towa. But as with all things optics in Japan from the 50s through the 70s, there's a lot of gray area. A lot of telescope makers didn't manufacture every part from top to bottom, in fact, I'd say that was probably rare. Maybe a company would make most of a scope and outsource the case, or individual parts like knobs, eyepieces, etc. Or maybe a company would actually manufacture nothing, and would just assemble parts they sourced from others. Then work in an importer, middle man and a retailer and you've got a very complex puzzle that will probably never fully solved. But I feel pretty happy that we've put this uncertainty to bed!

 

To close, I found this interesting paragraph regarding binocular manufacturer's in post WWII Japan, I don't know how relevant it is to telescope manufacturers, but it was definitely an era of legal cartels and confusion.

 

"From 1955 on, Japan could manage to share 95% of the world market of binoculars. On the other hand, optical instrument manufacturers made their appearance one after another, going in for an excessive business competition. In January 1955, the Japan Export Binocular Industry Association was established and began demand-and-supply adjustment work (controls on the quantity of shipment, sales price and method) to eliminate the excessive competition, thus giving rise to the appearance of an era of cartels. It was in those days that Otsuka Optical was born with an allocated production capacity of 200 binoculars a month. Later, this adjustment work was extended to cover six lines of business, such as trading companies, lenses, molding, barrels, and cases, thus driving Japan's binocular industry into an era of cartels on a full scale. For a further solidification of the cartels, the Japan Binocular Export Projects Association was established in August 1960 to engage in substantial buying and selling. In March 1961, however, the substantial buying and selling were called off due to the backlog and dwindling fund. The Association's debts amounted to 500 million Yen. Without any constructive measures taken, the exports were suspended in April 1961, placing the Japanese binocular industry in the worst condition. In an attempt to have access to an allocation, businesses purchased 20% of the backlog and shipped them although they were aware that the dealings would increase their deficits. It is under such circumstances that many businesses went down."


Edited by jragsdale, 19 January 2022 - 04:21 AM.

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#61 Kasmos

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 04:29 AM

I was joking when I said should we quit now?

 

We can but I have lots more references so now what am I going to do with them? undecided.gif


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#62 jragsdale

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 04:34 AM

I was joking when I said should we quit now?

 

We can but I have lots more references so now what am I going to do with them? undecided.gif

Ha! Well I say spill them all out here. I know I'm still curious to see all the differences.


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#63 Kasmos

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 05:09 AM

OK, Here's 'The Missing Link'

 

It a strange brand called a Warren and  everything about it matches the photo of the AT2 Towa specs posted earlier.

Warren-01 1000 copy.jpg

Except for the fairly uncommon wood tray with chains it's also a match my to my Crescent.

White Washed Box and Legs (that slide), White 5x24 finder, Larger (clunky) Objective Cell....

 

...but check out the engraved focuser

Warren-02 copy.jpg

It's marked D=60mm F=800mm with an engraved Circle T!

 

Actually this characteristic doesn't seem to make sense since there are tons of these types of scopes with attached labels that don't have a Circle T on them. So it appears to be a variation that doesn't seem to follow a linear time line.

 

Now I wonder if someone can dig up one that looks older but has a attached label?


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#64 Terra Nova

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 08:16 AM

This is a fascinating thread. You guys have really done your homework. But how are the optics on these old 60ish x 800s? I just wonder because by the time that it got to the mid-60 and the Towa Tasco 60x800 that I briefly had, they really sucked. Of course the metal legs and styrofoam that co-mingled by then didn’t help. wink.giflol.gif

(These really old ones by they way are quite lovely, with the exception of the black wrinkle finish on the main tube and optical parts of some of them. I can’t say that I’m a fan of that.)


Edited by Terra Nova, 19 January 2022 - 12:43 PM.

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#65 jragsdale

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 09:34 AM

This is a fascinating thread. You guys have really done your homework. But how are the optics on these old 60is800s? I just wonder because by the time that it got to the mid-60 and the Towa Tasco 60x800 that I briefly had, they really sucked. Of course the metal legs and styrofoam that co-mingled by then didn’t help. wink.giflol.gif

(These really old ones by they way are quite lovely, with the exception of the black wrinkle finish on the main tube and optical parts of some of them. I can’t say that I’m a fan of that.)

I think the optics were much better, even approaching Asahi grade. Of course there were some duds, but who knows if some of these lenses had been broken and replaced or cleaned and put back in incorrectly over the years. I know my Monolux I-7 is as sharp as my Asahi Jupiter (and my Mayflower 814 SYW as well).


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#66 apfever

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 10:13 AM

I have a Circle T, Tasco stick on label Model No.12TE-5, Reg. No. 512266, D=60mm  f=800mm.

I have another box that I labeled as a Tasco 12TE-5 "Very Nice".  Unfortunately the box is on the bottom of a stack of boxes. 

I have another box that I labeled as a Selsi 60mm f=800mm "Looks OK". Unfortunately this one is directly on top of the 12TE-5 box, with more boxes on top of it. 

The other boxes are NOT D60 f800.

 

Let me know if there is interest in pictures. Be specific for pictures. I could take a few while at it. Ask questions. I'd prefer to access these only once and put them back. I have no room to keep them out for reference. I'll have them out for a day or so if I dig in, just in case something leads to another pertinent question. Don't hesitate to ask, happy to help, I just can't leave all this out for a week.  Honestly I'm a little curious myself but I'm not going in without outside interest.  These are ALL wood boxes outside, I have no idea if styro or wood cradles inside. 


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#67 jragsdale

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 10:41 AM

I have a Circle T, Tasco stick on label Model No.12TE-5, Reg. No. 512266, D=60mm  f=800mm.

I have another box that I labeled as a Tasco 12TE-5 "Very Nice".  Unfortunately the box is on the bottom of a stack of boxes. 

I have another box that I labeled as a Selsi 60mm f=800mm "Looks OK". Unfortunately this one is directly on top of the 12TE-5 box, with more boxes on top of it. 

The other boxes are NOT D60 f800.

We probably have enough examples, especially in Kasmos' collection. The Circle T branded stuff isn't too relevant. I'm curious about the Selsi, but it probably matches some of the scopes already posted above. If you have it out though a shot of the focuser w/knobs, mount casting and case layout would be interesting!



#68 Kasmos

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 03:31 PM

This is a fascinating thread. You guys have really done your homework. But how are the optics on these old 60ish x 800s? I just wonder because by the time that it got to the mid-60 and the Towa Tasco 60x800 that I briefly had, they really sucked. Of course the metal legs and styrofoam that co-mingled by then didn’t help. wink.giflol.gif

(These really old ones by they way are quite lovely, with the exception of the black wrinkle finish on the main tube and optical parts of some of them. I can’t say that I’m a fan of that.)

Terra, When I first purchased my Crescent the objective was filthy and after disassembly and cleaning it had a soft focus and lots of CA. I even went to the trouble of buying a replacement objective. Later I did some work with spacers and when put back together mysteriously sometimes it was horrible and sometimes excellent even if I only opened it to see if I had done something wrong. I settled on a thinner spacer ring and after more than a dozen times it worked well again, so I'm afraid to touch it. But now it's seems as sharp as any 60mm I have, and that includes a side by side test with the Swift 839. The Swift's image was brighter but less natural with overall bluer tones. Chuck Hards commented that the brightness difference is likely due to the baffles in the Crescent. I haven't checked or messed with them yet so I don't know if that's the reason for the difference in brightness and if changing their distance or removing them will degrade the image.

 

While not the subject of this thread, my 1963 9TE was very sharp from the start but it had a lot of off center and out of focus CA noticeable during daytime views. It may sound hard to believe but after replacing the ring spacer with 3 thinner ones of foil, it's stunned me how good it is. Side by side test with the Mayflower 814 showed it was as good and maybe better! BTW, since it was the thinner of the two, it's metal spacer ring ended up in the Crescent.

 

Anyway, I always wanted to do thread on all of the AT2s, ET1s, including the Circle Ts and comparisons with Asahis since I find the history of all of them interesting plus now it would be too repetitive to start another thread. I'm also interested in trying to roughly date them, and figure out when they started and ended production.


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#69 jragsdale

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 04:11 PM

Anyway, I always wanted to do thread on all of the AT2s, ET1s, including the Circle Ts and comparisons with Asahis since I find the history of all of them interesting plus now it would be too repetitive to start another thread. I'm also interested in trying to roughly date them, and figure out when they started and ended production.

Probably a good idea, one stop thread!


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#70 Piggyback

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Posted 20 January 2022 - 07:41 AM

Guys and gals, I must admit this thread has left me with more questions than answers. The number of early 60x800mm variants is mindboggling and my confusion seems to grow with each specimen presented. I was further puzzled when I found my 1956 Towa Tokyo to have a soft plastic white color lens cap. Looks like this thing came out of a 3D printer. I believe it to be OME, though. Anyone?

 

Towa Tokyo 62 auf 800mm_10_1.JPG


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#71 Piggyback

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Posted 20 January 2022 - 08:27 AM

A couple more detail shots. My box came with a metal carry-handle, two-side chain arrest and "sculpted" metal corner protectors. Never seen a box in that exact outfit. Most other 60x800´s seem to have the common 60´s plastic handles like in that wooden box on top. I also found a Towa Tokyo desiccant pouch and a leather wipe from a camera outlet "Besier" in my hometown Wiesbaden. It was founded in 1912 and sadly went belly-up in 2016. Anyone?

 

Towa Tokyo 62 auf 800mm_13.JPG

 

Towa Tokyo 62 auf 800mm_16.JPG

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#72 jragsdale

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Posted 20 January 2022 - 09:58 AM

Guys and gals, I must admit this thread has left me with more questions than answers. The number of early 60x800mm variants is mindboggling and my confusion seems to grow with each specimen presented. I was further puzzled when I found my 1956 Towa Tokyo to have a soft plastic white color lens cap. Looks like this thing came out of a 3D printer. I believe it to be OME, though. Anyone?

 

attachicon.gifTowa Tokyo 62 auf 800mm_10_1.JPG

Yeah, I think that's the original lens cap, I've seen several on these 50s Towa scopes.

 

Do you have any documentation showing 1956? I'm curious about your scope as I would guess 57 or 58 based on the focus knobs and the chain on the box side instead of the metal scissor hinge. But there are exceptions, I'm sure each exporter brand could specify some of the finish details.


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#73 Bomber Bob

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Posted 20 January 2022 - 12:11 PM

About the "jumble" of pieces / parts from different years on the same 60x800s:

 

- Changes made by previous owners;

 

- WIDE Variety of Exporters & Importers;  [1950s Importers apparently had more stringent quality requirements.  These obviously slipped by the 1970s!]

 

Ad Hoc selections -- as in, What do we have on-hand or in the back room??  

 

BIF:  My biggest regrets with the 60x800s that I've owned:

 

- I didn't keep that sweet Monolux.

 

- I didn't make near enough photos!

 

To add to the confusion:  One of my 60x800s had a crazy Lens Cell.  It was a solid cast piece.  The retaining ring was on the back (eye) side.  There were 3 micro-grub screws -- at an angle! -- through the casting that locked the ring.  Took time & care to get the lens out & back in without chipping!!


Edited by Bomber Bob, 20 January 2022 - 12:17 PM.

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#74 Piggyback

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Posted 20 January 2022 - 12:40 PM

Yeah, I think that's the original lens cap, I've seen several on these 50s Towa scopes.

 

Do you have any documentation showing 1956? I'm curious about your scope as I would guess 57 or 58 based on the focus knobs and the chain on the box side instead of the metal scissor hinge. But there are exceptions, I'm sure each exporter brand could specify some of the finish details.

Unfortunately no invoice, stamp to support sellers claim of 1956 vintage. 



#75 jragsdale

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Posted 20 January 2022 - 12:48 PM

Unfortunately no invoice, stamp to support sellers claim of 1956 vintage. 

In the grand scheme of things, 1956 vs 1957 isn't a big deal, but it's interesting to see the small changes Towa made as it started making scopes in the mid 50s and eventually starting doing the Circle T and moved into being a larger player in the field.

 

I was googling Towa Koki and came across this lens on this Mamiyaflex camera and noticed it had a serial number. And the serial numbers of these lenses coincidentally run the range right before the very first serials we saw from Towa on the I-6 models in the high 9000 range. Were the first 9000 or so products camera lenses before they got into telescope lenses? These Mamiyaflex cameras also have "Made in Occupied Japan" on them, which ran until about 1952, so the dates match up fairly well. Maybe?

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