Kodak Ball Bearing Shutter Folding Camera from 1915

The Vest Pocket Kodak cameras were a best-selling folding camera series made by Eastman Kodak (Rochester), from 1912 to 1926. They were the first cameras to use the smaller 127 film reels. A strut folding variant had a f/6.8 72mm achromatic meniscus lens, hidden behind a mask that allowed a max. aperture f/11. It had to be loaded through the top with both film spools at once. It had the small three-blade variant of Kodak’s Ball Bearing Shutter No.0. Folded it was really handsome, not bigger than most modern compact cameras.

The Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak was a version advertised as “Soldier’s camera” during WWI. It was manufactured from 1915 to 1926, sold 1,750,000 times. It was of the compact strut folding type and had the meniscus lens or a U.S.-speed 8 Rapid Rectilinear. Its camera back had an area through which notes could be written onto the paper backing of the 127 film, the “autographic” feature – invented by Henry J. Gaisman. Vest Pocket Autographic Special models were equipped with selected f/6.9 and f/7.7 lenses of Kodak, Bausch & Lomb, Zeiss, Ross, Berthiot or Cooke, the rarest is H Duplouich Verax although mainly with the Kodak Anastigmat f/7.7 lens and the Suter Basel Swiss made optics. The Vest Pocket Kodak Model B was a quite different camera; a primitive folding bed camera for making 4×6.5cm exposures on 127 film.

It was also marketed as Boy Scout Kodak and Girl Scout Kodak. Its lens was a doublet in a rotary shutter, or a Kodak Periscopic lens in a Kodak shutter. the lens typically had four apertures, set by a thumbwheel on the side of the shutter block, and numbered 1-4. The Model B had to be loaded through the front side, after removing the whole bed and bellows unit. It was produced from 1925 to 1934 and cost $7.50. It had the “autographic” feature. “Hawk-Eye” versions of the Vest Pocket Kodaks were premium models, and the “Special” models had more sophisticated lens/shutter combinations.

A special Vest Pocket wooden development tank for the type 127 rollfilm was available from Kodak, as well as a special Vest Pocket enlarging camera.

Eastman Kodak Co., of Rochester, New York, is an American film maker and camera maker. For at least three quarters of the 20th century it played the dominant role in worldwide photography business.

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