|Kodak, No.3A Folding Pocket Kodak model B-4 camera, c1910|
The first Kodak, No.3A Folding Pocket Kodak model of 1903 introduced 122 roll film making images 3.25 x 5.25 inches, or postcard format as it came to be known. This B-4 version dates from around 1910, production ending in 1915 and like many others was made at the Rochester factory, New York, but they were also made in the Toronto works in Canada. The sides of the camera are of wood, machined with slots and channels into which is pressed a stamped and folded aluminium tray, forming the film chambers, focal plane and main body. Hinged to the front, forming the front and lens bed is a pressed aluminium panel with a riveted rail to run the lensboard along. Either side of this are two stylish, if functionally pointless, mahogany inserts. The lensboard slides in channels machined into the nickel plated brass bar supports to give rise and fall movement driven by a rack and pinion. Cross movement is catered for by unlocking a thumb screw and pushing with your thumbs. Two legs are fitted to the front hatch to allow free standing images to be made in either portrait or landscape format. The back is created from aluminium sheet cleverly rolled to form the back and ends, detaching completely to gain access to the film chambers. The red bellows of natural leather over card stiffeners and linen liner, later examples were changed to black from October 1912. The whole camera is wrapped with coarse Morocco natural leather. This example is fitted with a pneumatically governed Koilos shutter mounting a Cooke triplet lens. The camera was fairly expensive to manufacture due to the mixed materials and many processes involved and Kodak would seek to simplify all their cameras in due course, making these and earlier FPKs some of the nicest Kodaks to be found. The FPKs were made in vast quantities in all their various sizes and camera aficionados can be a bit sniffy about them, as they survive in large numbers making them far from rare, this size being the most common. Indicative of Kodak's success, they sought to create cameras of decent quality for each market segment to ensure a steady stream of film purchases, which was their primary business. This success in turn lead to the millions of photographs taken with them and with it the invaluable social documentation handed down to us.
Donated by Mr. D Bremner in November 2022, this camera was well worn and underwent a major renovation, this being documented in Project 15. Despite significant corrosion the Koilos shutter still works beautifully well over a century after it was made. This particular shutter is most welcome as the Koilos was the first leaf shutter produced by Gauthier and one the collection didn't have an example of up to its arrival. The Koilos is pneumatically governed and triggered, the governor is external, but the the trigger piston is hidden internally. A feature of this particular camera is a sliding plate to blank off the red frame counter window. As it's only adjustable from inside, this suggests that unbacked film could be used. Closer inspection indicates that a single glass plate could be inserted between the pressure plate springs. The Cooke pattern lens was originally intended for portraiture, so it seems likely that this camera was configured this way for studio use so that individual portraits could be made without the need to process an entire roll, but I have not seen any literature to confirm this. Also the back has been deliberately dished inwards, presumably to ensure the plate stays tight to the focal plane.
This camera is the subject of Project 15 in the workshop section.
Body No.211297-A (to be found on rear of lensboard leg)
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