Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

Pocket Kodak Camera

Eastman Kodak Company

Name: Pocket Kodak Camera
Manufacturer: Eastman Kodak Co.
Country of Origin: USA
Construction: Leather covered wooden casing of relatively simple construction. The camera underwent a significant number of design changes when first introduced (see examples below).
Single reflecting viewfinder (circular on 1895 models, rectangular thereafter). The camera was designed to use 102 film (introduced for this camera) but could also take a single plate in a special plate holder.
Film: 102 rollfilm (1" x 2")
Lens: Meniscus
Shutter: 1895 - June 1896 Tisdell; June 1896 - 1900 Rotary
Dimensions (w x h x l):  
Serial Number: The Pocket Kodak was not serialised.
Production Period: 1895 - 1900

The Pocket Kodak was introduced in 1895 and was an immediate success. Records indicate that 100,000 of these cameras were sold in the first year of production.

The Pocket Kodak was designed and manufactured for Eastman Kodak by Frank Brownell, in Rochester.

The camera was also imported into the UK for sale by Kodak Ltd. It was a great success here too, and orders were placed for 2000 units a month to be imported for the European market (Ackerman).

A significant feature of this camera is that it was the first Kodak camera to feature the red window and use a cartridge rollfilm. When first produced, Eastman did not own the patent for the red window and was having to pay royalties for its use. The red window first appeared on the Bulls-Eye camera produced by the Boston Camera Manufacturing Co in 1892. This camera introduced the transparent roll-film backed with black paper that was numbered to mark the exposure position and viewed through the window.

The popularity of the Pocket Kodak led Eastman to purchase the Boston Camera Mfg Co and all its patent rights.

The rear panel carrying the red window could be removed to be replaced by an optional plate carrier (but I have as yet to find an example).

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Model / Variant: First model with felt film guides and plain metal flaps, shutter on film carrier.
Shutter: Tisdell
Date of this Example: 1895
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [x]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 269

<Photographs to be added>

Description

Black (brown?) leather covering. Shutter is mounted onto the front face (aluminium) of the transport mechanism. With the felt film guides and plain metal flaps on spool compartments, this makes it the very first model of 1895 (compare with #132). It also has the round viewfinder window.

Some minor wear on leather around the winder key and shutter release and minor scuffs elsewhere on the leather covering.

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Model / Variant: First model with felt film guides and plain metal flaps, shutter on separate board.
Shutter: Tisdell
Date of this Example: 1895
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [x]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 132

<Photographs to be added>

Description

Black leather covering. Shutter is mounted on a separate removable board, which is not part of the transport mechanism. With the felt film guides and plain metal flaps on spool compartments, this makes it the second variant of the first model of 1895 (compare with #41). It also has the round viewfinder window.

There is some wear on leather around the winder key and shutter release and minor scuffs elsewhere on the casing. However, this camera is in very good condition.

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Model / Variant: Third variant produced in 1895 with roller film guides.
Shutter: Tisdell
Date of this Example: 1895
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 41

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Description

Red/brown leather covering. The shutter is mounted on a separate removable board, which is not part of the transport mechanism, but has roller guides for the film. According to Coe [4] this makes it the third variant produced in 1895. It also has the round viewfinder window.

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Model / Variant: Fourth variant produced in 1895 with roller film guides but with shutter mounted on film carrier.
Shutter: Tisdell
Date of this Example: 1895
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 168

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Description

Red/brown leather covering, with original sales carton in pale blue and instructions (in two parts).

The shutter is mounted directly onto the aluminium transport mechanism, and has roller guides for the film. According to Coe this makes it the third variant produced in 1895. It also has the round viewfinder window. Note that #41 has the shutter on a separate wooden board.

The original sales carton is pale blue in colour. There is much edge & corner wear, but it is basically sound. The name can just be made out on the lid.

Original documentation includes "Pocket Kodak ~ Part I ~ Field Primer" and "Part II ~ Dark Room Primer". Interestingly the manuals are branded as Eastman Photographic Materials Co Ltd, 115-117 Oxford Street, London W., but the camera was bought in the US.

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Model / Variant: '96 Model
Shutter: Rotary
Date of this Example: 1896
Availability:
  • Common [x]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 226

<Photographs to be added>

Description

Black leather covering. The rotary shutter is mounted on the film transport mechanism. It is marked internally as a '96 model. It also has the square viewfinder window.

Only very minor marks to the leather. The brass metalwork is in good condition.

Notes

The later pattern is the most common, identified easily by the rectangular viewfinder. However, this format was used across a series of models identified as '96, '98, '99 and Model D. Coe lists '97 as a model designation, but there are no known examples where this is stated on the camera body. If you have one, then I would be interested to hear from you!

The cameras occasionally turn up with their original packaging and/or instructions, but not very often.