Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

No 3A Folding Pocket Kodak Camera

Eastman Kodak Company

Name: No 3A Folding Pocket Kodak
Manufacturer: Eastman Kodak Co.
Type: Folding (Rollfilm)
Country of Origin: USA
Construction: The camera is constructed as a vertical format folding camera for postcard sized pictures on 122 film (introduced for this camera). Reflecting finder fitted to lens standard on all models.
The sequence of models runs in the following series: Model A, B, B-2, B-3, B-4, B-5 and C.
Plate / Film Size: 122 rollfilm (3" x 5")
Dimensions (w x h x l): 4 x 9 x 1⅞ (closed)
Production Period: 1903 - 1914

As with many of the Folding Pocket cameras, the No 3A Folding Pocket Kodak camera underwent a series of design changes during its production, where the key changes are identified by the model number. The dates for each model are listed below, based upon data in Coe Kodak Cameras [4]; however the date shown for the introduction of the Model B-5 does seem to be correct (see text).

Model A: June 1903 - Sept. 1903
Model B: Sept. 1903 - June 1904
Model B-2: June 1904 - Nov. 1906
Model B-3: Nov. 1906 - June 1908
Model B-4: June 1908 - Apr. 1909 (suspect)
Model B-5: Apr. 1909 (suspect) - June 1912
Model C: June 1912 - 1915

From 1914 the camera was fitted with an autographic back as standard and thereafter continued as the 3A Autographic Kodak.

Model / Variant: Model A
Lens: Rapid Rectilinear
Shutter: FPK Automatic
Movements: Rising and cross front
Date of this Example: 1903
Serial Number: 3599-A
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [x]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 293

<Photographs to be added>

Description

No 3A Folding Pocket Kodak Model A with deep maroon bellows, with wooden inserts. The first model has ratchet mechanism to lock the rising front and a leather covered lens standard.

This example of the Model A camera is in very good condition although it does show some minor signs of wear to the leather.

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Model / Variant: Model A
Lens: Rapid Rectilinear
Shutter: FPK Automatic
Movements: Rising and cross front
Date of this Example: 1903
Serial Number: 3148-A
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [x]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 350

<Photographs to be added>

Description

An excellent example of the No 3A Folding Pocket Kodak Model A. It has deep maroon bellows, with wooden inserts, ratchet mechanism on the rising front and a leather covered lens standard.

The camera is in very good condition with only minor signs of wear to the leather. The camera is complete with its original box (correct serial number written on the base of the box), a combination back with two DDS (marked for this camera) and the ground glass screen, all in very good order. It also has its original bulb for the shutter.

The camera came with an early Picture Taking manual, but this is dated 1906 and the photos show a Model B-3.

The original mauve sales carton has slight signs of wear on its edges, but is basically sound, although it has one inner edge taped in the lid.

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Model / Variant: Model B
Lens: Rapid Rectilinear
Shutter: FPK Automatic
Movements: Rising and cross front.
Date of this Example: 1904
Serial Number: 16955-A
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 138

<Photographs to be added>

Description

Model B of the No 3A Folding Pocket Kodak, the second model with maroon bellows, with wooden inserts on baseboard, rack and pinion rising front with leather covered lens standard. 'Kodak' is engraved on support foot, which makes it between Feb and June 1904. Serial suggests the latter part of this period (Model B-2 starts at 20,200).

The leather covering is in good condition; handle complete. The chrome work reasonably bright although a bit grubby in exposed areas. The main issue with the condition is a common one with cameras that have a leather covering over an aluminium body shell - the leather on the fold down front has 'bumps' showing where screws beneath are swelling through developing green verdigris.

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Model / Variant: Model B-2
Lens: Rapid Rectilinear
Shutter: Kodak Automatic
Movements: Rising and cross front.
Date of this Example: 1904 - 1906
Serial Number: 42784-A
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 516

<Photographs to be added>

Description

This is a reasonable good example of the model B-2 of the No 3A Folding Pocket Kodak, introduced in June 1904 with (from serial 20,200) an automatic preset focusing lock, non-reversible back (different sized catches). Coe [4] reports that a further change was introduced in Jan 1906 (tension spring fitted to back) from serial 58062. This example has serial 42784, so is likely to date to 1905.

The maroon bellows are in very good order. Mahogany inserts have some surface scratches. The nickel work is in good order though tarnished. The leather covering is very dry and was separating from the back on the lower curved edge, where the underlying aluminium had degraded. (This has since been repaired - the red window disintegrated in the process and this has been replaced with red acetate).

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Model / Variant: Model B-3
Lens: Rapid Rectilinear
Shutter: Kodak Automatic
Movements: Rising and cross front.
Date of this Example: 1906 - 1908
Serial Number:  
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number:  

<Photographs to be added>

Description

This is a reasonable good example of the model B-3 of the No 3A Folding Pocket Kodak, introduced in  Coe [4] .

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Model / Variant: Model B-4
Lens: Rapid Rectilinear
Shutter: Kodak Ball Bearing (1/25, 1/50, 1/100, B, T)
Movements: Rising and cross front.
Date of this Example: c1908
Serial Number: 157008-A
Availability:
  • Common [x]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 565

<Photographs to be added>

Description

This is a good example of the Model B-4 of the No 3A Folding Pocket Kodak, introduced in  1908 according to Coe [4]. It has all the expected features for this model: deep maroon bellows, polished mahogany inserts on the baseboard, blackened nickel faceplate and prism shaped viewfinder with spirit level.

The leather is generally in good condition with few signs of wear and tear. It is a common problem with these aluminium bodied cameras that the aluminium starts to oxidise under the leather, causing the bond between leather and metal to fail. some of the leather covering here seems to be a little loose, suggesting that the aluminium has started to oxidise.

As with the example below, according to Coe the serial number makes this a Model B-5, but this is clearly incorrect (refer to next entry).

The camera is complete with its original maroon box (with the serial pencilled in on one face), although one face has separated. I have an instruction book that matches this camera, although it was bought separately.

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Model / Variant: Model B-4
Lens: Goerz Anastigmat
Shutter: Kodak Automatic
Movements: Rising and cross front
Date of this Example: c1910
Serial Number: 200055-A
Availability:
  • Common [x]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 99

<Photographs to be added>

Description

The data in Coe [4], suggests that based on the serial number that this example of the No 3A FPK should be a Model B-5, which he states was introduced in April 1909 (continued until 1912 when the Model C was introduced), with effect from serial 147,775. However, this example with serial 200055 is identified quite clearly as a Model B-4, as this model identifier is stamped into the side of one of the wells where the rollfilm is held. Refer to the Notes at the bottom of the page for further commentary.

The camera no longer has its original non-autographic back. Rather it came with an autographic back, with patent dates up to 1921, and Combination Back (plate / film). Last patent on Combination back is 1902. The leather on this is a little worn. This has one single dark slide and the original glass.

The Autographic Back was made available as an accessory that could be retrofitted to a non-autographic camera, as in this case. I have an example of the sales box for the Autographic Back for the No 3A Folding Pocket Kodak, which contains a non-autographic model B-4 back that was obviously swapped!

<Insert picture of sales carton for autographic back>

The combination back was also sold as an accessory item, which came in similar packaging.

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Model / Variant: Model B-5
Lens: Bausch & Lomb Rapid Rectilinear
Shutter: Kodak Ball Bearing (1/25, 1/50, 1/100, B, T)
Movements: Rising and cross front.
Date of this Example: c1910
Serial Number: 15934
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 578

<Photographs to be added>

Description

Black bellows (hence earliest date of 1910, based on data in Coe), with black wooden inserts. The latest patent date inside the back is also 1910. The camera has its original non-autographic back. The camera is marked as B-5 in the film well and on the inside of the back.

This example of the No 3A Folding Pocket Kodak came with an original purple slip box in good condition and carrying a matching serial number on the white panel on the outer sleeve.

The camera is generally in good condition, although there are the usual rash of raised bumps on the back where the underlying screws have eroded.

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Model / Variant: Model C
Lens: Bausch & Lomb Rapid Rectilinear
Shutter: Kodak Ball Bearing (1/25, 1/50, 1/100, B, T)
Movements: Rising and cross front.
Date of this Example: c1912
Serial Number: 285595
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 567

<Photographs to be added>

Description

This is a reasonable good example of the Model C of the No 3A Folding Pocket Kodak, introduced in 1912 according to Coe [4] . This is the final model that was produced prior to the adoption of the autographic back as standard, from which point the camera was sold as the 3A Autographic Kodak.

According to Coe, the US models adopted black bellows as standard as of August 1912 / serial 295,000 (approximately). Models imported into the UK made this change earlier, in April 1910. This example is therefore one of the last US versions produced with red bellows. (The camera was bought in the US).

The Model C has a revised baseboard layout: it is leather covered (no wooden inserts), with a curved front edge. The rail grips (the finger levers that have to be squeezed together) are of a revised design. It has a focussing scale that can be switched between rollfilm and plate (supposedly introduced with the B-4 according to Coe, but absent on both my examples of this earlier model).

The rising and cross front mechanism and faceplate design have also changed. The rising front now has a thumbscrew vernier style fine adjustment; the cross front has a lever action lock, replacing the earlier round thumbscrew lock used on the B-3 and B-4 (and possibly the B-5).

This example is in reasonable condition, although the leather is rather dry. It is marked inside the cavity where the rollfilm is loaded as a Model C as well as on the inside of the back; the last patent date is 1909.

Notes

The No 3A Folding Pocket Kodak camera is a particular favourite of mine. I enjoy its size and proportions when handling it and I find the series of technical developments during its life quite fascinating. But above all, I think it looks stunning when equipped with red or maroon bellows. This camera was the inspiration behind my choice of domain name for the web site.

The Model A is generally quite hard to find as less than 5000 were made and very few turn up in Europe.

The Model B is also quite hard to find as again it was made in comparatively small numbers - about 15,000 in all.

Models B-2 & B-3 turn up fairly often, though seem to be more common in the US than Europe. The Model B-5 is quite hard to find.

The Model B-4 is by far the most common model on both sides of the Atlantic.

It is my belief that the serial data in Coe relating to the Model B-5 is incorrect and I am also suspicious of the introduction date too as this would mean that the Model B-4 was available for less than a year, which is inconsistent with the fact that it is the model that turns up more frequently than any other. The only examples of models marked as B-5 that I have yet come across were found in the UK and all have a consistent serial number pattern, but one that differs completely from that specified in the book.

From the data I have collected to date, the evidence I have suggests that serial numbers ran sequentially from the Model B-4 into the Model C, while the B-5 was produced (or at least sold) in the UK and had its own quite distinct serial sequence. The lowest number I have seen to date for a B-5 is 2438 and the highest is 66807. The highest serial I have recorded so far for a model B-4 is 264193-A, while the lowest Model C serial is 266821.