Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

No 1 Autographic Kodak Junior

Eastman Kodak Company

Name: No 1 Kodak Junior
Type: Folding (Rollfilm)
Manufacturer: Eastman Kodak Company
Country of Origin: US
Construction: Conventional folding bed camera where the lens standard is pulled out on a track fixed to the baseboard. This is the autographic version of the camera. The back is slightly unusual in that it follows the curve of the camera profile at one end only - sometimes referred to as being 'J-shaped'. The release catches are also off centre. Brilliant finder at top right of lens standard.
Plate / Film Size: A116 rollfilm (for pictures 2" x 4")
Movements: None
Dimensions (w x h x l):  
Production Period: 1914 - 1927

The No 1 Kodak Junior was introduced in April 1914 and discontinued in December of the same year as a result of the introduction of autographic film; the camera was continued as the No 1 Autographic Kodak Junior thereafter, from serial 33901 according to Coe ([4], p123).

The No 1A Autographic Kodak Junior camera (for A116 rollfilm) was also produced in the same period.

Lens: Meniscus Achromatic
Shutter: Kodak Ball Bearing
Date of this Example: 1914
Serial Number: Serial 319081
Availability:
  • Common [x]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 215

<Photographs to be added>

Description

This example of the No 1 Autographic Kodak Junior is in good order. The leather covering shows little damage and wear. The brightwork is in good order. The bellows seem to be sound.

The Autographic feature used on this model is illustrated in Coe ([4], p74), and the pattern used here is the early one with the hinged door, which dates to the period 1916 - 1920. The camera has a grooved release button, but a collapsible viewfinder which narrows the date down to 1919 according to Coe.

Notes

The autographic feature was patented by Henry Jacques Gaisman, who was an inventor and manufacturer of safety razors. George Eastman purchased the patent in 1913 for $300,000. The autographic feature was only available on Kodak cameras.

There are two elements to the autographic feature: the film itself and the dedicated door fitted to the back of the camera.

Autographic film was essentially the same as any other roll film, apart from the fact that it had a paper backing that consisted of a double layer rather than the conventional single layer. The outer paper backing was slightly translucent and would therefore allow light to pass through it. The inner layer of paper was made of a carbon impregnated material. In normal conditions this layer was opaque, but it could be rendered translucent wherever a sharp instrument pressed against it causing the carbon compound to be compacted.

An autographic camera had a narrow door on the back covering the width of the film plane. The door was positioned just above the top edge of the image area. A special metal scribing tool (sometimes referred to as a stylus) was provided, which could be stored somewhere on the camera body (usually either attached to the door or otherwise on a hanger on the lens standard).

When the photographer wanted to make a note about a particular picture he had taken, the door was opened and the scribe was used like a pen to write and press the message against the small area of paper backing that was visible beneath the open door. The pressure of the scribe caused the inner carbon layer to compact and become translucent and the light that passed through the lines of the message written with the scribe left an image on the film. The door had to be left open for a second or two to expose the film. When the film was developed, the scribed message could be seen along the upper margin of the photograph.

The film itself came on a conventional spool like any other standard roll film and was loaded into the camera and used in the normal way. Autographic films were prefixed with the letter A so for example 116 film in its autographic form became A-116.

Autographic film was adopted across a wide range of cameras from this time. On its introduction it was hailed by Eastman Kodak as "the biggest photographic advance in twenty years" (Kodak advert dated 1915).

What is strange is that despite the adoption of autographic film across a wide range of Kodak cameras, very few examples of pictures seem to turn up that actually show any use of the capability to record notes on individual pictures at the time they were taken!