Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special

Kodak Limited

Name: Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special
Type: Folding (Rollfilm)
Manufacturer: Kodak Limited (see notes)
Country of Origin: UK
Construction: The Vest Pocket Kodak is a small compact camera with collapsible bellows, supported by scissor struts on each side.
The most easily recognisable UK variant of the Special was fitted with a Compur shutter and Tessar lens. This required the front plate to be specially modified to accept the shutter. Other quality lenses might also be found, such as a TT&H Cooke lens.
Plate / Film Size: 127 rollfilm for pictures 1 5/8" x 2"
Shutter: Compur Compound
Movements: None
Dimensions (w x h x l): 2 3/8 x 4 x 1"
Production Period: 1922 - 1927

This variant of the Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special was marketed in Europe by Kodak Limited and was not available in the US, which had its own version with the Tessar lens but without the Compur shutter. Note that the bodies vary in finish, as illustrated by the examples below. The front panel may be a different finish to the main camera body.

Note that there were also UK versions of the Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special that retained the Ball Bearing shutter, but equipped the camera with better quality lenses in place of the standard Meniscus Achromatic, as with the US versions of the Special. According to Coe [4], lenses such as a Ross Homocentric f6.8, TTH-Kodak Anastigmat f6.5 or Zeiss Tessar were used.

Reference is made in all the pages relating to the Vest Pocket Kodak to a guide to this series of cameras produced by Jay Kay [12], which identifies the many different design variations that exist between the models. The book identifies a number of key characteristics that vary between models such as the faceplate design, shutter plate, side panels etc. I mention a number of the key characteristics that relate to each of the cameras in my collection, but a full list of the various characteristics based upon the Jay Kay's scheme can be found in the separate VPK Capture Sheet.

The main body of the camera is commonly based on the basic Vest Pocket Autographic produced by the Canadian Kodak Company (as marked on the rear of the body). The face plate used on these cameras is quite different to the conventional VPK as it has to accommodate the Compur shutter (Type 6 in Jay Kay's classification scheme). Note that a separate serial number can (usually) be found on the rear of the face plate.

Model / Variant: Special with Compur shutter; Japan Crystal lens panel
Lens: Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar F=9cm, f4.9 (Carl Zeiss Jena No 650495)
Shutter: Compur Compound 258646
Date of this Example: c1926
Serial Number: Serial 36177 on support stand and 677398 on inside of lens panel adjacent to viewfinder.
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [x]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 320

<Photographs to be added>

Description

This is the uncommon version of the Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special with the Compur / Tessar shutter and focussing lens combination. It is in fair condition, with only wear on the leather covering and front face (the ring around the viewfinder has some 'brassing'). The lens is marked in feet (cf #367 which is marked in meters).

The newest patent listed on the back is 1921 (Type 4), but the camera was produced between 1922 and 1927 according to Jay Kay [12] (and 26/27 according to Coe [4]).

The body is marked on the rear as made by Canadian Kodak Company (Type 3). The main body has Moroccan leather covering, as with other Specials, but the front panel is in the Japan Crystal finish.  

The camera came with a boxed yellow filter that does fit the camera and an Ica extension that fits over the eyepiece and seems to have been used with the camera.

~ # ~ # ~

Model / Variant: Special with Compur shutter; Japan Crystal front panel
Lens: Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar F=9cm, f4.9 (Carl Zeiss Jena No 573042)
Shutter: Compur Compound 258646
Date of this Example: c1923
Serial Number: Serial 14373 on support stand and No 787149 on inside of lens panel adjacent to viewfinder.
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [x]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 367

Image of Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special Camera (UK Model)

(Image Amateur Photographer 2011, taken for an article by Ivor Matanle and reproduced with kind permission)

Description

This is another example of the Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special with the Compur / Tessar shutter and focussing lens combination. Again, the newest patent listed on the back is 1921 (Type 4). The body is marked on the rear as made by Canadian Kodak Company (Type 3). The main body has Moroccan leather covering, as with other Specials, but the front face is Japan Crystal finish.

Interestingly this example has the focus scale in meters; #320 has it marked in feet.

It is in good condition, with minimal wear on the leather covering and front face (the ring around the viewfinder is in good order). The leather & front face are in better condition than #320. However, the bellows are not as crisp, have a misfold and show some corner wear.

~ # ~ # ~

Model / Variant: Special with Compur shutter; plain black enamel lens panel
Lens: Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar F=9cm, f4.9 (Carl Zeiss Jena No 511378)
Shutter: Compur Compound 258646
Date of this Example: c1923
Serial Number: Serial 159335 on support stand, but unusually there is no marking on inside of lens panel adjacent to viewfinder.
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [x]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 373

<Photographs to be added>

Description

This is another example of the Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special with the Compur / Tessar shutter and focussing lens combination. The newest patent listed on the back is 1917.

As with the previous examples, the body is marked on the rear as made by Canadian Kodak Company (Type 3). The main body has Moroccan leather covering, but the front face is plain black enamel finish. Compare this with the other two examples, both of which have Japan Crystal front faces and later patent dates (1921). This example also has the focus scale in meters.

The camera is in good condition, with minimal wear on the leather covering and front face (the ring around the viewfinder is in good order). The leather & front face are in good condition, and the bellows are in good order.

The camera has been modified to have a flash X contact fixed to the front face at bottom right. The camera came from Belgium and came with an interesting soft leather ever ready case that is reinforced with metal and fitted with two tripod bushes. It has French markings inside the flap section. "SAC FIX", BTE.S.G.D.G, E.P.T Paris. The seller believed that the case was made by Berthiot.

Notes

Note that there were also UK versions of the Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special that retained the Ball Bearing shutter, but equipped the camera with better quality lenses in place of the standard Meniscus Achromatic, as with the US versions of the Special. According to Coe [4], lenses such as a Ross Homocentric f6.8, TTH-Kodak Anastigmat f6.5 or Zeiss Tessar were used.

One camera in my collection (#356) may fall into this category as it is equipped with a Beck Neostigmar f6.8 lens. However, the lens is fitted to a body that Jay Kay identifies as a standard model; evidence suggests that this may have been an upgrade paid for by a customer who had bought the basic camera rather than being factory fitted. Consequently I have listed it on the page for the Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak rather than here.