Petri  –  Vintage Camera Brand

Petri Brand Overview

Petri logo

Founded: 1907 — Tokyo, Empire of Japan
  (modern day Japan)
   
Currently: defunct

Petri Brand History

Petri was a Tokyo-based Japanese camera brand founded in 1907 by Kuribayashi Yōji. Primarily known by the somewhat interesting and supposedly western-friendly contraction of “Peter the First,” Petri produced a wide variety of cameras including large format glass plate folding cameras, twin lens reflex cameras, and 35mm SLRs but is perhaps best remembered for its 35mm fixed-lens cameras with “Green-O-Matic” green tinted rangefinder windows.

Initially founded as Kuribayashi Seisakusho (栗林製作所), the company initially produced photographic accessories like plate holders and wooden tripods before it made its first camera in 1919. In 1930, the company renamed itself Gōshi-gaisha Kuribayashi Shashin Kikai Seisakusho (㈾栗林写真機械製作所) which lasted all through World War II as its offices and factory in Tokyo were destroyed by Allied bombs until 1949 when it became K.K. Kuribayashi Shashin Kikai Seisakusho (㈱栗林写真機械製作所).

Sometime in the early 1950s, the company trademarked the “Petri” brand and began manufacturing cameras under that name for sale abroad. After yet another name change in 1956 to Kuribayashi Shashin Kōgyō K.K. (栗林写真工業㈱), the company finally became Petri Camera K.K. (ペトリカメラ㈱) in 1962. Petri continued to make cameras for export, selling almost exclusively to western markets as well as occupying allied forces in Japan. Unfortunately, sales were unsustainable and Petri went bankrupt and shut down in 1977. The company was resurrected a short time later as Petri Kōgyō K.K. and the Petri name was used to sell a series of Pentax K-Mount compatible SLRs manufactured by Cosina. The company then pulled out of the camera industry for good and went on to produce telescopes before eventually fading into obscurity.

Interested in starting or growing your own collection of Petri cameras?
Check eBay to see what’s available.

References:

McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown’s Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 2001-2002. (Grantsburg, USA: Centennial Photo Service, 2001), 399-406.

“Petri Camera,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petri_Camera

“Petri,” Camerapedia, http://camerapedia.wikia.com/wiki/Petri

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