Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special

Eastman Kodak Co.

Name: Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special
Type: Folding (Rollfilm)
Country of Origin: US
Construction: The Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak is a small compact camera with collapsible bellow, supported by scissor struts on each side.
The VPK Autographic Special, introduced in 1915 when the autographic film appeared, was a variant that had much better lenses but still used the same shutter as the standard model. However there are a number of variations.
Most of the Special models are covered in fine grain Morocco leather (body and faceplate), but not all.
Plate / Film Size: 127 rollfilm for pictures 1 5/8" x 2"
Movements: None
Dimensions (w x h x l): 2 3/8 x 4 x 1"
Production Period: 1915 - 1926

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.

Model / Variant: Leather covered body (Type S-16)
Manufacturer: Eastman Kodak Company
Lens: Kodak Anastigmat f7.7 (F=84mm, fixed focus), serial 207781
Shutter: Ball Bearing No 0
Date of this Example: c1920
Serial Number: Serial 199277 on support stand
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 60

<Photographs to be added>

Description

This is an example of the Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special equipped with the fixed focus Kodak Anastigmat f7.7 lens. The shutter surround (or Index Plate) carries number 15290 (Type S-16 in Jay Kay's identification scheme [12]), dating it to between 1918 and 1921.

With the exception of the side panels, the camera is covered in fine pin grain Morocco leather (main body and front panel), which is in very good condition. The side panels are finished in Japan Crystal (Type C). The chamfered bellows are in good order, but quite dry and likely to have small pin holes at the corners (though none are visible to the naked eye).

The latest US patent date recorded on the rear disk is Aug 28 1917 (Type 3). The manufacturer's identification plate on the rear shows the maker as Eastman Kodak (Type 1).

~ # ~ # ~

Model / Variant: Plain enamel body (Type S-35)
Manufacturer: Eastman Kodak Company
Lens: Kodak Anastigmat f7.7 (F=84mm, focussing), serial 20263
Shutter: Ball Bearing No 0
Date of this Example: c1925
Serial Number: Serial 1121029 on support stand
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 335

Image of Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special Camera with focussing Anastigmat lens (f7.7)

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

Description

This is an example of the Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special equipped with the focussing Kodak Anastigmat f7.7 lens. The shutter surround (or Index Plate) carries number 17330, marked in feet (Type S-35 in Jay Kay's identification scheme [12], dating it to between 1924 and 1926.

The camera is finished in plain black enamel (main body and front panel), which is in very good condition. The side panels are finished in textured black enamel (Type B). The chamfered bellows are in good order.

The latest US patent date recorded on the rear disk is Aug 28 1917 (Type 3); it is surprising this is not the later pattern bearing the 1921 patent date. The manufacturer's identification plate on the rear shows the maker as Eastman Kodak (Type 1).

~ # ~ # ~

Model / Variant: Plain enamel body (Type S-06)
Manufacturer: Eastman Kodak Company
Lens: Kodak Anastigmat f7.7 (F=84mm, fixed focus), serial 36167
Shutter: Ball Bearing No 0
Date of this Example: c1916
Serial Number: Serial 350639 on support stand
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 355

Image of Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special Camera with fixed focus Anastigmat lens (f7.7)

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

Description

This is an example of the Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special equipped with the Kodak Anastigmat f7.7 lens (fixed focus). The shutter surround (or Index Plate) carries number 9203, marked in feet (Type S-06 in Jay Kay's identification scheme [12]), dating it to between 1915 and 1916.

The camera is finished in plain black enamel (main body and front panel), which is in exceptional condition. The side panels are finished in textured black enamel (Type B). The chamfered bellows are in good order.

The case cap on the rear of the camera body is plain and shows no patent date information (Type 1). It also has the "Vest Pocket Kodak" marking on the front panel (Type 3). This is also the only place where a patent date is shown, namely "Mar 4, 1902 , May 6, 1913". There is no manufacturer's identification plate on the rear.

~ # ~ # ~

Model / Variant: Japan Crystal finish (Type S-13) 
Manufacturer: Eastman Kodak Company
Lens: Kodak Anastigmat f7.7 (F=84mm, fixed focus), serial 150169
Shutter: Ball Bearing
Date of this Example: c1926
Serial Number: 1812897 on the rear of the support stand
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 349

<Photographs to be added>

Description

This is an example of the Vest PocketAutographic Kodak Special with Kodak Anastigmat f7.7 lens; the body has the Japan Crystal finish rather than being leather covered as one might expect. The shutter surround (or Index Plate) carries number 12630 (Type S-13 in Jay Kay's identification scheme [12]).

This pattern was original introduced between 1916 and 1918. However, this camera has a latest patent date of 1921 on the case cap (Type 4), the later pattern of front panel (Type 4) and the additional bracing bracket joining the bottom pivots of the scissor trellis. It would therefore seem that this model in Japan Crystal finish must have been introduced much later than the leather finish model described by Jay Kay; the high body serial suggests this was produced towards the end of the production period. Coe [4] states that the Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special was available with the Kodak Anastigmat f7.7 lens until 1926, when the camera was dropped from the catalogues.

The bellows are in very good condition. The Japan Crystal finish shows some wear, which is most obvious on the raised edges of the sides and on the case cap on the rear of the camera body.

~ # ~ # ~

Model / Variant: Leather covered body (Type S-12)
Manufacturer: Eastman Kodak Company
Lens: Kodak Anastigmat f6.9 (fixed focus), serial 8914
Shutter: Ball Bearing No 0
Date of this Example: c1916
Serial Number: Serial 70842 on reverse of support stand
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 331

<Photographs to be added>

Description

This is an example of the Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special equipped with the fixed focus Kodak Anastigmat f6.9 lens. The shutter surround (or Index Plate) carries number 12598 (Type S-12 in Jay Kay's identification scheme [12]), dating it to between 1916 and 1918. The camera came fitted with an EKCO No 8 (portrait?) lens.

With the exception of the side panels, the camera is covered in fine pin grain Morocco leather (main body and front panel), which is in good condition, though showing signs of use and wear. The side panels are finished in textured black enamel (Type B). The chamfered bellows are in good order.

The latest US patent date recorded on the rear disk is 1913 (Type 2). There is no manufacturer's identification plate on the rear.

~ # ~ # ~

Model / Variant: Leather covered body (Type S-17)
Manufacturer: Eastman Kodak Company
Lens: Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar II, F=9cm (Serial 251767)
Shutter: Ball Bearing No 0
Date of this Example: c1918
Serial Number: Serial 167893 on reverse of support stand
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [x]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 532

Image of Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special Camera (US Model) with Tessar II lens

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

Description

This is an example of the Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special equipped with a fixed focus Tessar II lens. The shutter surround (or Index Plate) carries number 15292 (Type S-17 in Jay Kay's identification scheme [12]), apparently dating it to between 1918 and 1921. However this lens is not a standard offering and it is likely that it was a retrofit, probably replacing a Kodak Anastigmat.

With the exception of the side panels, the camera is covered in fine pin grain Morocco leather (main body and front panel), which is in very good condition. The side panels are finished in textured black enamel (Type B). The chamfered bellows are in good order.

The latest US patent date recorded on the rear disk is Aug 28 1917 (Type 3). The manufacturer's identification plate on the rear shows the maker as Eastman Kodak (Type 1).

The camera came in a soft leather pouch case, complete with its original instruction booklet "Picture Taking with the Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special", dated April 1917.

~ # ~ # ~

Model / Variant: Leather covered body (Type S-17)
Manufacturer: Canadian Kodak Company
Lens: Ross Homocentric, F=85mm (Serial 92530)
Shutter: Ball Bearing No 0
Date of this Example: c1921
Serial Number: Serial 37027 on reverse of support stand
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [x]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 596

Image of Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special Camera with Ross Homocentric lens

Description

This is an example of the Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special equipped with a fixed focus Ross Homocentric lens. The shutter surround (or Index Plate) carries number 15292 (Type S-17 in Jay Kay's identification scheme [12]), apparently dating it to between 1918 and 1921. However, here is the first of several inconsistencies with Jay Kay's data as this one as a later style of rear cap carrying a patent date of 1921 (Type 4).

With the exception of the side panels, the camera is covered in fine pin grain Morocco leather (main body and front panel), which is in good condition although there are some scuffs and scrapes from normal wear and tear. The side panels are finished in Japan finish (Type D). The chamfered bellows are in good order, although the seam on the underside is separating.

The manufacturer's identification plate on the rear shows the maker as Canadian Kodak (Type 3). However this lens option was probably fitted by Kodak Limited in London.

There is another odd feature on this camera, which is that it appears to have square section bellows that appear to be made of fabric. I presume this must be a replacement for an earlier set that failed.

~ # ~ # ~

Model / Variant: Leather covered body (Type S-31)
Manufacturer: Eastman Kodak Company
Lens: Kodak Anastigmat f6.9 (F=84mm, focusing), serial 37239
Shutter: Ball Bearing No 0
Date of this Example: c1924
Serial Number: Serial 34041 on reverse of support stand
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 338

Image of Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special Camera with focussing Anastigmat lens (f6.9)

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

Description

This is an example of the Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special equipped with a focusing Kodak Anastigmat f6.9 lens. The shutter surround (or Index Plate) carries number 16140 (Type S-31 in Jay Kay's identification scheme [12]), apparently dating it to between 1921 and 1926. Note that the body serial number is something of an anomaly here as it is a very low number, which does not tie in with the date!

With the exception of the side panels, the camera is covered in fine pin grain Morocco leather (main body and front panel), which is in very good condition. The side panels are finished in Japan Crystal (Type D). The chamfered bellows are in good order.

The latest US patent date recorded on the rear disk is Aug 28 1921 (Type 4). The manufacturer's identification plate on the rear shows the maker as Eastman Kodak (Type 2).

There is an anomaly with this camera: the body serial number is a 5 digit number and yet the Index Plate is a style that matches a late production camera (1921 or later), where one would expect the body serial number to be a 6 digit number. All other fittings are consistent with the late production date, as is the general condition of the camera.

~ # ~ # ~

Model / Variant: Plain enamelled finish (Type S-05)
Manufacturer: Eastman Kodak Company
Lens: Zeiss Kodak Anastigmat f6.9 (fixed focus), serial 2139535
Shutter: Ball Bearing No 0
Date of this Example: c1915
Serial Number: Serial 306850 on reverse of support stand
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 354

Image of Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special Camera (US Model) with Zeiss Kodak Anastigmat lens

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

Description

This is an example of the Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special equipped with a Zeiss Kodak Anastigmat f6.9 lens. The lens is marked as Zeiss Kodak Anastigmat on the inner ring, and "Made by Bausch & Lomb Optical" around the outer edge.

The shutter surround (or Index Plate) carries number 8093 (Type S-05 in Jay Kay's identification scheme [12]), apparently dating it to between 1914 and 1916. However, since this camera has the autographic feature, it must date to after March 1915 when this was introduced.

This Special is unusual in comparison to the others listed on this page in that it is finished in plain black enamel rather than being covered in leather; the enamel is in very good condition showing very few signs of wear. The side panels are finished in textured black enamel (Type B). The chamfered bellows are in very good order.

It has the "Vest Pocket Kodak" marking on the front panel of the camera, which is also the only place where a patent date is shown, namely "Mar 4, 1902 , May 6, 1913" (panel Type 3).

The rear disk is plain and does not record any patent dates (Type 1). There is no manufacturer's identification plate on the rear.

The camera also has a stiff black leather case, lined with black velvet.

Notes

I have a fairly substantial collection of VPKs in their various formats and finishes. Refer also the Vest Pocket Kodak page for the standard (non-autographic) model, the Vest Pocket Kodak Autographic for the later and longer running autographic version. This page shows a number of examples of the US made Vest Pocket Kodak Autographic Special, but refer also to page dedicated to the highly desirable UK Compur / Tessar Special model.