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Nikko 20 X 120 Straight Through Binoculars


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Nikko produced high quality binoculars for the Japanese Navy during WWII, such as the 20 X 120 straight through model. They were usually found on decks of Japanese battleships. The U.S. reverse engineered their version of 20 X 120 binoculars from captured Japanese binoculars during WWII.

Nikko was the brand name logo used by Nippon Kogaku during the 1930’s. They started as an optical firm parallel to the German manufacturers of Leitz and Zeiss. Prior to WWI, Japan imported optics from Germany, but they knew they needed to manufacture their own with an impending war. They no longer wanted to rely on outside sources for such an important technology.

Nippon Kogaku was formed after two other long-standing optical industries merged with them to become Nippon Kogaku Kogyo Kabushiki, abbreviated to Nippon Kogaku KK. Today they are known as Nikon.

Nippon Kogaku was formed to mainly serve the Japanese Armed Forces and did so during WWI and WWII, perfecting a vast array of optical products. They not only made binoculars, but also microscopes, telescopes, transits, surveying equipment and optical measuring devices, serving industry and science.

When Nippon Kogaku KK manufactured the Nikko 20 X 120, they probably did not have the vision of how collectible these binoculars would be in the late 20th and early 21st century. Naval binoculars rarely go down in price because collectors tend to hold on to them.

A couple of London dealers began the trend in the late 1980’s when they polished and mounted WWII binoculars on beautiful tripods to be sold by dealers in the U.S. In the 1990’s this fashion moved to the U.K. Their selling point was that the binoculars were much easier to use than a telescope for viewing long distances, but they also proved to be a stunning piece of historical art.

Many of the Big Eye binoculars are collected and restored by stripping off the original paint and polishing down to the cast aluminum to a mirror finish. Brass eye pieces, prism boxes and lens shades often get stripped down, polished, and then coated with a layer of thin gold to keep the brass from tarnishing.

If you are unable to find an original pair of Nikko 20 X 120 straight through binoculars, or other WWII models, there are reproductions available that hold a high level of collectability. All are carefully hand-crafted works of art that bring tons of character and feel into your space.

Whether you restore one of these rare historical artifacts, or find a high-quality replica, you will have a piece that is both a thing of beauty and functioning work of art. The range of these Big Eye binoculars prove to be perfect for bird watching, or people watching, from your penthouse apartment, or star gazing from your desert retreat. There is no space that will not be improved by one of these remarkable collectables.


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