Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

Flat Folding Kodak

Kodak Limited

Name: Flat Folding Kodak
Manufacturer: Eastman Kodak but for sale by Kodak Ltd.
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Construction: Black morocco covering over a wooden body, brass fittings and rack and pinion focussing. The camera has an integral roll holder assembly built onto the back panel to hold the darkroom loaded 48 exposure film.
Production Period: 1895 - 1897


Plate / Film Size: 48 exposure dark room loaded (4" x 5")
Lens: Original Kodet style barrel lens has been removed and replaced with a 4 x 5 Rapid Rectilinear in a Unicum shutter
Shutter: It should have a Kodet shutter built into the lens panel but this has been removed
Movements: None
Dimensions (w x h x l): 8½ x 6½ x 3½"
Date of this Example: c1896
Serial Number: The serial is stamped into the wooden case along the front hinge line but is not clear as the leather covering is damaged, but is believed to be 66X, and probably 663
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [x]
Inventory Number: 364



The Flat Folding Kodak Camera is a very scarce camera. Only 400 were made according to the Production Order Book, as recorded by Brian Coe in [4] Kodak Cameras The First Hundred Years. Only a few examples are known to exist in collections around the world; currently about 10 examples have been found. I bought this camera due to its historical interest and scarcity, despite its many shortcomings!

Flat Folding Kodak Advert
Flat Folding Kodak Advert The adjacent advert for the Flat Folding Kodak camera was published in the Photographic News, dated 21 August 1895.

Click on the thumbnail image to open a larger version in a new window.

It describes the camera as "The Cyclist and Tourist's Comrade".

The line drawing illustrates the style of lens and finder that should be fitted to the lens standard and the heavier pleated (red) bellows, similar to those found on other contemporary cameras such as the satchel style Folding Kodaks.

The case and leather covering remain in good order, although sadly the leather in the hinge line for the folding front has deteriorated making the serial number very difficult to discern with any certainty. The original Kodet barrel lens has been removed and replaced by a Unicum shutter with a 4 x 5 RR lens. The built-in shutter has been at least partially dismantled as there are several slots on the left edge that have been filled with wood filler. The original viewfinder has also been removed, along with its mounting bracket.

The photographs below show the camera and the obvious adaptations that have been made to it at some time in the past to adapt for use with plates rather than rollfilm, no doubt to extend its working life.

Image of Flat Folding Kodak (front view)

This example of the Flat Folding Kodak camera has been adapted for plates by a previous user by mounting a plate holder on the back and cutting a hole cut in the camera back. The camera came with a viewing screen and film pack holder. The focussing scale has been moved back on the baseboard to compensate for its use with plates rather than film.

Image of Flat Folding Kodak (rear view)

There are a number of components that form part of the film carrier and counter that are also missing on my example. When I received it, the back had been fixed down with screws that I have removed in order to access the film carrier.

Image of Flat Folding Kodak (film holder removed)

The camera has an unusual mechanism to release the camera back. There should be two short levers, one in each corner on the underside of the camera. One of these has been lost or discarded on my example, along with the film winder key on the same side. Each lever turns a brass rod fitted into the corner of the film chamber. The full height rod has a notch cut into it near the bottom, which latches or releases the film carrier according to its position. To open the camera the lever(s) should be turned to be parallel to the front of the camera. The photo below shows the one remaining lever in the closed position.

Image of Flat Folding Kodak (underside)


The lens/shutter needs to be replaced, a contemporary viewfinder located and various other repairs and corrections made. This is a major restoration project.

An initial reaction to the major changes made to this camera is that it is such a shame that it was ever tampered with. Bear in mind though that had these adaptations not been made by a previous owner then it is quite likely that this would have been thrown out long ago. At least now there is a chance to learn something fro it and a (feint) possibility that it might over time be restored to something closer to its original state.

If you have arrived on this page through having an interest in the Flat Folding Kodak camera and its development, then I would strongly recommend that you also visit a page dedicated to the Flat Folding Kodak camera (last accessed December 2023)that has been produced by Rob Niederman, a respected collector of antique wooden cameras based in the USA, and also a researcher and historian. He acquired an early example of the Flat Folding Kodak in original condition (unlike mine) in 2023 and set about contacting other collectors who had one or more in their possession in order to collate information about known examples and chart the development of the camera over its limited production lifespan. It makes for fascinating reading. Rob will update the page as and when further information comes to light.

Based on his research todate, it is apparent that there were a number of design changes that were made to the camera over its relatively short production lifespan. My example appears to be a late model, a fact that is reassuring given my best guess at the serial number (663), which is a little higher than other known examples found to date.