Vintage and Classic Cameras
Kodak, No.1 Folding Pocket Kodak, 120 roll film camera, c1912

The No.1 Folding Pocket Kodak traces it's ancestry to 1897 when the first model was introduced. These first models lacked a lens bed, had unplated brass struts and red bellows amongst other differences. The design was developed continuously, with nickel struts replacing the brass ones. A major change came about in 1905 when a dished aluminium lens bed was added. The double viewfinder was discontinued shortly afterwards when it was replaced by a swing out finder, red bellows continued (as was the fashion) until 1912 when the change to black was made, production ceased in 1915. The camera introduced a very neat self erecting mechanism that provided a rigid structure, in fact it is actually better than some self erecting designs a decade later - even though it looks a tad clumsy. Our example joined the collection in August 2003 and dates from around 1912-15. It has a number of endearing features. The first one is the rather striking varnished wood interior, another is the leg which allows the camera to stand on it's side - it is notched and allows the user to angle the camera up in landscape format. Then there is the shutter mount that has a catch that releases the shutter, presumably so the font of the lens can be cleaned. Finally I just love the viewfinder, which at first appearance looks like many others, but turns out to be made from a small block of wood. This example subesquentlty proved very dissapointing - delivering very poorly focussed images and was relegated to the shelf after a couple of films, it was thought that the lens might have been swapped at some point for incorrect one. In May 2007 another attempt was made and the camera dismantled, the reason for poor focus became apparent. The felt light proofing at the back of the lens that sits in a riveted metal plate and wood sandwich had been poorly positioned during manufacture and prevented the lens from seating. This resulted in the lens being too close to the film plane and had 'focussed through' infinity. Trimming back the felt solved the problem and the camera, presumably, took it's first ever sharp pictures the same day!

Kodak, No.1 Folding Pocket Kodak, 120 roll film camera,       c1912

Body No.192166
Shutter, Pocket Automatic, speeds I, B, T
Lens, Achromatic 105mm f/11
Condition, 5F



Kodak introduced this folding mechanism with their 1897 Folding Pocket Kodak, although this example is a later model dating from 1912. In this camera the hatch is popped using a catch (1) opened and pulled down (2), which in turn withdraws the lensboard, extends the bellows and locks into position, ready for shooting (3). Clearly much more convenient for the non-technically minded photographer. The earliest version of this camera didn't have a hatch, the user simply pulled the lensboard out of the recess until it locked. This design was fixed focus, so there was no requirement to move the lensboard. The method of folding is quite complex, needing many more parts than other designs and the multiple pivots require a high degree of manufacturing accuracy, this would have made the camera comparatively expensive to manufacture and Kodak did not persist with it after 1915, However a variation did resurface some years later in the Kodak Jiffy

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