Saturday, January 17, 2009

Do you remember the JCII "Passed" stickers affixed to all photographic equipment?

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Hi Pentaxian friends.

Years ago, all photographic equipment imported in the United States from Japan had the JCII Passed sticker affixed. At the time, it was my understanding that the sticker represented equipment purchased in the United States. When someone would go abroad, on their return to the USA, if the equipment had no sticker, the belief was that import tax and duties would have had to be paid. I never questioned it and always kept the stickers on the equipment.

We don't see the stickers anymore and I wondered what happened to them. I searched the internet and found a lot of information. I now feel silly because my assumptions back then were completely erronnous.

This is what I found and I'm not clear if the article was written by David Hartman or Paul Nance. Nonetheless, this is what they wrote:

After World War II Japanese products had a very poor reputation. In the late fifties I remember my father giving me a hammer, screwdriver and pliers for Christmas. I dented the hammer face with US made nails and as a child bent the pliers so the jaws no longer closed. At that time Nikon was already making fine quality rangefinder cameras. Japan’s image at that time was much like China’s today and the potential mismatch was also the same. China is able to produce fine quality products as well as abysmal junk. The JCII Institute did force some companies to improve their optical products. The PASSED stickers did the job and Japan pinched much of Germany’s camera market. “The (JCII) Japan Camera Industry Institute; formerly the Japan Camera Inspection Institute was founded in 1954 with the charter of enforcing strict quality control for all Japanese camera products exported overseas. The JCII was thus the organization responsible for testing all Japanese camera exports and applying the once-familiar oval gold PASSED - JCII sticker onto all equipment which passed. This practice of applying the gold stickers, which helped cement the Japanese camera industry’s reputation for quality, seems to have stopped at some point in the late 1980s.”

If you are in your twenties, you probably never knew about the stickers.

And to think that I kept the stickers on my equipment in fear of paying import duty and taxes. Hey, the picture of the Pentax 35-70mm above is of my own lens, and it still has the sticker. However, I purchase the lens on EBay a while back.

Thanks for reading,

Yvon Bourque
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