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help to identify (vintage) Tern binoculars

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/27/2016 at 13:09
pete_denton View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
Optics GrassHopper


Joined: January/27/2016
Location: england
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hi, recently I bought a pair of binoculars on a well known auction site and am very interested in their history. 
All I can see is 'TERN' on the left shoulder and '8x30 Field 7.5 131m/1000m' on the right shoulder.
Also on a sticker on the central barrel is '106 PASSED JTII'.
Can you please shed any light on the origins of these very nice binoculars.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/27/2016 at 21:31
Klamath View Drop Down
Optics Master
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Joined: May/20/2007
Location: United States
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JTII was the Japan Telescope Inspection Institute.  It held its members to an overall quality standard.  Japanese manufacturers who adhered to these standards got to use the JTII stickers.  In almost all cases these JTII binoculars were stamped with so called J numbers.  There are often two, sometimes only one.  Those are the J-B and J-E numbers, each number specific to a certain manufacturer.  Sometimes this evidently did not happen, why not I have no idea.  The JB and JE numbers are usually stamped on the end of the hinge on the objective end of said hinge. JB identified the maker of the binocular and JE the maker of the metal work.  Look very carefully for these.  I have a couple of these era Japanese binoculars (different brand name than Tern) that have the JTII sticker but no numbers.

There were several hundred makers in the JTII.  That was where you went from the period of roughly 1959-1973 if your company wanted their name on a binocular if they had no capacity to build their own.  Montgomery Wards and Sears Roebuck are two deceased companies, among many more, who did the same thing.  Maybe even Tern, whoever they are, or were.  Or whether the name is a name of a seller or simply a model name for a binocular.  Modern companies like Bushnell as an example got their binoculars from JTII sources back in the day.

I saw the pictures in the bird forum post you have.  Those are a pretty typical vanilla flavored, sort of JTII standard 8x30 product. Most all configurations were pretty much of one or two basic styles.The makers expanded or contracted their production probably based on who they had orders from.  Companies needing a binocular looked around the though the list until they found a maker or two they could do business with.  Some of those makers (read assemblers for a large part) would do what they could to give the buyer what they wanted, were actually pretty small.  Most do not exist today.  Some were then either names like Nikon or Kowa to name a couple who still make their own stuff today under their own brands.  Others like Kamakura, Tamron, and Light Optical Works, who all make binoculars for other lines, much the same as was was done in the JTII era, evolved from companies of that era.  Most are long gone and forgotten.

So even if you can find a couple of J numbers, all you will will get is a name of a Japanese firm who very likely will mean nothing to anyone because it is a name never heard of and non existent today.

I have a couple of 8x30's that with the Tern name on place of the name they have would be tough to tell from one another.  For the most part the great bulk of those binoculars were pretty decent and remain usable even by today's standards.

That is about all I can say here.  Hope it helped a little. Big Smile

By the way, welcome to OT.

EDIT:  I have the list of the JTII makers and that list will tell all but one or two of the makers.  You can find it at europa.com,


Edited by Klamath - January/27/2016 at 21:38
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