Any idea why my Pentax LX has a name of the famous deceased Japanese photographer Masaaki Nakagawa engraved on it? Is it some kind of limited edition?

Masaaki Nakagawa engraver

  • \$\begingroup\$ I've just checked mine, and it doesn't have this. There were several special editions of the LX. \$\endgroup\$
    – user82065
    Oct 18, 2019 at 14:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't understand why there's a vote to close this question as off-topic by reason of being a shopping question. This isn't shopping. This is about historical camera gear, and its perhaps interesting connection to a famous photographer. Not a common question we get here, but certainly interesting. And most importantly, on topic! \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Oct 22, 2019 at 1:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's where he left his camera. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alaska Man
    Mar 15, 2020 at 21:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Have you tried asking Pentax? As the brand has been brought by Ricoh, I wouldn’t be surprised if they either won't know or care, but, you never know, it may be worth sending an email to their customer services department. Definitely, an interesting question and one I'd like to see answered. \$\endgroup\$
    – mooie
    Jul 3, 2020 at 23:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Some members at pentaxforums.com might possibly know the answer. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 20, 2020 at 20:22

1 Answer 1


Really fascinating question, I felt compelled to look into it to find out!

I'd say there are 3 possible answers to this:

  1. The most likely answer: Pentax engraved the first owners name (Masaaki Nakagawa in this case) on the camera before shipping it to them.

  2. Possible but unlikely: Masaaki Nakagawa had it engraved by a third party.

    • It seems within reason that a famous photographer in the mid-1900's, after purchasing a high-end and expensive camera, would get his name engraved it. This could help identify his belongings and discourage theft.
  3. Possible: One of the previous owners (not Masaaki Nakagawa) engraved the name on it.

    • This could possibly be to make it look as though it was once owned by a famous photographer and thus increase the value dramatically. However if this had happened, I'd have thought it would have been marketed to you as belonging to Masaaki Nakagawa himself. Without marketing the feature, there would have been no point in doing it.

EDIT: I messaged the Pentax guru, Eric Hendrickson, and he shed some light on this. Honeywell (the original US importer and distributor of Pentax) apparently used to treat any staff retiring on their 30th year to a camera with their name engraved on the back. He's seen a fair few come to him for repair, so while each engraved name would be unique, yours wouldn't be the only camera with the engraving.

However this introduces some more questions - If your camera was a Honeywell camera, it's logo should state "Honeywell Pentax" as per this Wiki page:

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentax_Spotmatic enter image description here So there's more questions - what brand is the camera, a Honeywell or an Asahi? If it's a Honeywell, why would a Japanese photographer work for the US branch of the company when the Japanese Asahi branch is in his own country? Or did Asahi also do the name engraving service? Either way, I can't find mention of Masaaki Nakagawa being employed by Pentax or any of it's subsidiaries.

A further conversation with Eric might clear it up of course. But either way, you have a very nice little piece of history there, it's almost definite the name is genuine and that your camera was owned by the famous photographer when new. Best of luck and happy shooting!

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Based on how regular the name looks in the supplied image, I'd suggest that the name was embedded as a part of a manufacturing process and not added after the fact. In my opinion engraving and or embossing plastic after the fact would show a different style (although I can't quantify how) \$\endgroup\$
    – Peter M
    Oct 22, 2020 at 17:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Good point @PeterM - also thought that engraving after the fact would also mean that the smallest mistake can't be undone. Presumably if this were done in the Pentax factory, if they misprinted one, they could discard and replace it easily, which would result in perfect, regularly spaced characters. \$\endgroup\$
    – AutoBaker
    Oct 22, 2020 at 17:43

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