Taiyodo Koki (TKK), Japan
Taiyodo (or Taiyo-do) Koki made a lot of TLRs! Around 1958, it changed its name to Beauty Camera Co., reflecting the predominance of the Beauty, Beautycord, Beautyflex model names in its output. I have had limited success in trying to track down any details of the company, either before or after the change. However,
The History of the Japanese Camera (ed. Gordon Lewis, 1991) says that Taiyodo went bankrupt in 1957, so "Beauty" was probably a new business taking over the old, whether with new owners I know not.
These are by far the most prominent - and presumably the largest - part of the output of TKK/Beauty. The company's style was clearly to produce huge numbers of model variants, often with very similar - or identical - components under variant names. In arriving at conclusions as to which models I have, it has sometimes been necessary to take this into account - several have no direct counterpart in either McKeown or Sugiyama.
So-called because it has "TKK" in large letters on the nameplate. A pretty basic camera, well-made with a rim-set shutter. Early '50s -
this one's rather scruffy.
The S model from around 1955 is fairly similar to the "TKK" (left), and looks to use the same body, possibly produced simultaneously. Slightly more upmarket.
Beautycord (unknown model)
This is a bit of an oddball item. Neither Sugiyama nor McKeown mentions it, and it looks like a bit of a hybrid between the Beautycord and Beautyflex (although the boudaries are very blurred anyway). So far as I know, the better shutter on this appears on no other Beauty model, but Taiyodo were known to use mixed parts in the course of a model run, presumably as availability and price varied.
An early geared-lens model, with a "T" logo on the lid. It has only a marginally better specification than the 'Cords; the Doimer lens seems to have been used generally on early 'Flexes, although whether it is much better than the Tri-Lausar I doubt. Thought to be c1950.
Beautyflex IV (early model)
Differs from the later model IV shown in Sugiyama, and I'm sure this is a transitional model c.1951 from the III to the later IV. It lacks the stylised and Amiflex-like lens surround of the later IV and V in Sugiyama.
The model V is similar to the later model IV shown in Sugiyama, with its ratherodd Amiflex-like lens surround. Key differences are the standard Beauty rounded triangle logo on the top, with a change to an "Etoal" shutter with front-mounted release, a synch plug socket bottom right, and a modified catch for the back.
Beautyflex D (Synchro)
The D model seems to have been produced in several variants around 1955, all pretty similar, with only shutters differing, and a varying angle of the small M-X plate under the synch switch (above and right of taking lens). They all have an unusual lens combination, with Tri-Lausar viewing lens matching the Biokor.
Beautyflex D (Rectus)
This one has an interesting metal telescoping lenshood fitted, with which it came. Rather a nice feature allowing it to stay on in the ever-ready carrying case. As the previous one, this has the M-X plate on the diagonal.
Beautyflex D (Copal)
This camera is the same as the D shown in Sugiyama - I don't know whether this makes it the original version D. Unlike my other two, this one has the M-X plate vertical, not diagonal.
Shutter is Copal MX 1 to 1/300
Rather confusingly, this is an earlier model than the D from 1954. This particular camera is quite nice condition and well-looked-after
This (1954) is fairly similar to the S above, but lacks the linking moulding between the lenses. Cosmetic differences and minor lens/shutter variations also distinguish it from its predecessor.
This model, with the "Beauty" name appears to have been primarily sold in Japan
- it normally doesn't turn up elsewhere. There is some confusion about which model it is. Sugiyama - I suspect authoritatively - simply names it the Beauty, but identifies a very unusual f3.1 lens variant (otherwise identical) as the Beauty IIIS - it has a visibly large lens pair in Sugiyama's photos. McKeown I think muddles the two, listing a Beauty and a Beauty S with apparently identical attributes. Either way, it is effectively a nameplate variant of the Beautyflex S above.
Beautyflex 2.8 (no bayonet)
A very rare model. The three 2.8 models are among only a very few TLRs which have these larger lenses - the best known of course being Rolleiflex models (q.v.). The 2.8 is uncommon, but most are fitted with Rollei-type Bayonet III filter mount to the object lens (see the next one here). This is earlier, and has none. I've never heard of another with this pre-bayonet lens surround.
Beautyflex 2.8 (single Bay III)
Slightly later than the previous camera, this 2.8 model is the very slightly more common Bay III Rolleiflex-compatible version. This means it can use filters which fit the Rolleiflex 2.8 Planar/Xenotar lens series (the top-end models). However, the Bay III mounting is restricted to the lower, taking lens
Beautyflex 2.8 (double Bay III)
Another very rare item, with Bay III mounts on both lenses. It's the only one I've ever seen, and I obtained it direct from a Japanese sale. Apart from this difference, it is again identical to the other 2.8 models above
Shutter is Copal 1 to 1/200
I puzzled over these. The logo on top says "SCL", but the only Japanese company in McKeown's with a name like SCL was Sanwa Co Ltd, which he says produced the Mananflex TLR in 1955; the Mananflex I have is quite different in detail aspects, and I doubt there is any connection to these Photoflexes. McKeown says it's very like the Fodorflex (first model); I don't have one of these, but the photo
here was sent me by a correspondent in Holland, and it's clearly a TKK model - look also at the one on
Monaghan/Medium Format site. (I do have a Fodorflex II by the way, but that was made for Fodor by Tokyo Kogaku - look at my
"Other Japanese TLRs" page).
This is essentially a Beautyflex V - it is for all practical purposes identical to that model - see the one in the Beauty section above. The residual mystery is who CSL were meant to be - anyone know??
Shutter is Etoal 1 to 1/200
As above, I this is just a rebadged Beautyflex D (Synchro shutter model), but for whom is still a mystery. It's a Rolleicord-type set-up. This one is a bit dog-eared, but then there aren't many around that I know of!
Shutter is Synchro MX 1 to 1/300
McKeown classifies these the first two of these as TKK models, and I agree - their build is clearly from the Beauty family. Sugiyama doesn't mention the Gen-flex, but has the other two as Taiyodo. I used to list the Gnoflex here as a Taiyodo model, on the basis of Sugiyama's attribution; however, I now consider this to be an error, and you'll find it in my "Other Japanese" page under Musasashi.
This was made for Montgomery Ward in the States, but is really a slightly enhanced Beautycord/flex, with a little more chrome. Probably from around 1953.
Shutter is TKK 1 to 1/200
Also made for Montgomery Ward, and regarded as a considerably improved model. I suspect it's also a Beautyflex under the skin. Probably around 1954.
Shutter is Synchro MX 1 to 1/300
Apart from the nameplate, this is an exact copy of the Wardflex (left) - in fact not even a copy - it's identical! Perhaps TKK was trying to profit from MW's requirements by selling another name variant - more likely it was rebadged for a small-volume, short-lived overseas distributor.
Made for the Dutch firm Fodor, who clearly bought so few that Taiyodo was able to leave its own name on the taking-lens surround! This is straightforward rebadging of the Beautyflex D (see above) with dual Bay 1 filter mounts. Details of Fodor itself are included on the linked page (click thumbnail above). Also click
HERE for a picture of a rare Fodor B which looks to me to be an earlier rebadged Taiyodo model.