The

Story

of the

Vest

Pocket

Kodak

Detailed design changes in the construction of the

first model Vest Pocket Kodak

1912 to 1926

 

1. Viewfinder Front lens surround,

 Very early cameras up to around body number 182,500 show a screwed ring (a) surround to the viewfinder front lens  later bodies have a dome-nut (b).

Viewfinder (a)

Viewfinder (b)

2. Viewfinder Body

There are four types of viewfinder body distinguished by the shape of or lack of a handle

      a. No handle up to  body no.  50,000. approx.

      b. Rod handle up to  body no.  80,000  approx.

      c. 8 mm wide handle with rounded  sides and cross hatched top up to body no.    .270,000.approx.

      d. 5 mm wide ditto up to end of production

3. Lazy tong assembly

  There are four lazy tong assemblies with different bases, these can be identified by  removing the side plate.

      a. Horizontal slotted side with three depressions, Up to body no.180,00 approx.

      b. Plain side Up to body no.625,000 approx

      c. Ditto with two square extensions at each end Up to body no 1,560,000 approx

      d. Ditto with triangular perforations at each end. Up to end of production

a.

c

b.

d.

4. Bellows Shape

Early cameras had square edged bellows, this was soon changed to the more normal chamfered edged bellows. It is strange that Kodak used the former as by 1912 these were no longer fitted to their other folding cameras due to the poor wearing qualities at the edges for this type of bellows.. For this reason many of these early cameras will have had replacement bellows fitted.

5. Body finish

      a. Gloss black enamel on regular cameras up to 1920

      b. Black Crackle (‘Japan Crystal’) finish paint on regular cameras from 1920 to 1926

      c Morocco Leather covering on later ‘Special’ cameras from 1916 (excluding ‘Special’ cameras converted from ‘Regular’ cameras with lenses by independent lens manufacturers).

6. Finish to sides

Sides to early models had a cross hatched finish, later models had a ‘Japan Crystal  finish after 1920 also varied as below.

      a. Cross hatching used on cameras up to 1920  

      b. Crackle finish use most subsequent cameras to end of production.

      c. No ‘Lock-Open’ on either side of opening catch of early models up to about 1913.

      d. ‘Lock-Open’ on either side of opening catch on all subsequent cameras.

      e. Vest Pocket Kodak on fixed side of all later models with ‘Japan Crystal’ finish.

6a + 6c

6a + 6dc

6b+6e

7. Camera Patents

  Unusually for Kodak early cameras had no patent information on the body. Later cameras showed patent   information on the front panel and then on the rear circular inspection cover, there are five variations on these later cameras

    a. No patents on camera up to about  around body no. 50,000. approx

    b. March 4th. 1902 patent and ‘other patents pending’ on lower part of front plate up to body no. 160,000.approx

    c March 4th. 1902 and May 6th. 1916 patents on lower part of front plate up to body no. 350,000.approx

    d. Patents as c above on rear inspection cover (in circle) up to body no. 1,000,000.approx

    e. Full set of patents, (latest 1917), on rear inspection cover up to body no. 1,560,000.approx

    f. Full set of patents, (latest 1921) ditto up to end of production.

b

c

d

e

f

8. Autographic Flap From 1915 all models had the Autographic feature, The lettering on autographic flap varied during `  the life of the camera series.

      a. Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak, used on cameras up to around 1917                     

      b. Use Autographic film No A 127, used on most subsequent cameras to end of production. 

      c. VP Autographic Kodak Special, on ‘Special’ cameras from around 1915 but   dropped soon after the introduction of leather covering to ‘Specials’.

      d. Use “Kodak” film no A 127, used on a few late cameras

a

b

c

d

9. Makers plate. appeared on cameras from about 1918,

    a. Rochester USA plate (Brass) No. 14406

    b. Ditto (Aluminium) no number.( late cameras from about 1922)

    c. Toronto Canadian plate (Brass) No. 14958

a

b

c

10. Lenses Fitted

First lens to be fitted to the Regular cameras was the Meniscus Achromat,  later in 1914 an f8 Anastigmat was fitted, this f8 lens was replaced by a similar Anastigmat f7.7 in 1915 which was current during the lifetime of the camera. The f8 anastigmat was not fitted to Autographic cameras. In about 1918 a Rapid Rectilinear lens of f11 aperture was produced and was available to the end of production and this lens appeared in three different forms, (see lens details).

‘Special’ cameras were first fitted with an f6.9 Zeiss Kodak Anastigmat  and, during the lifetime of the camera, with  many other different lenses by both Eastman Kodak and independent lens manufacturers, many of the latter being later fitted to Regular bodies. The body number with the S suffix first appeared with the Zeiss Kodak anastigmat and was at that time probably intended to denote ‘Special’ but it should be noted that all the cameras fitted with the f8 Anastigmat lens had the ‘S’ suffix body number (from 10,000S to 25,000S approx) but to my knowledge were never catalogued as being ‘Special’

The largest aperture lens fitted to the VPK by the Rochester factory was f6,8, but Taylor Taylor and Hobson produced their TT&H Kodak Anastigmat and the TT&H Cooke Anastigmat both of f6.5 aperture and these were the largest  aperture lens advertised in the Kodak Catalogue and fitted at the factory. The Rochester produced a lens escutcheon  (no, 29689) which shows an aperture of f6.3. Whether it was intended to produce an f 6,3 lens for this camera, I cannot say, for in fact this escutcheon was used with the f 6,8 Anastigmat with a supplementary plate towards at the end of camera production. There does not appear any other Kodak camera fitted with the size 'O' Ball Bearing shutter that included an f6.3 lens.

Notwithstanding this P. Beney of Paris, Boyer Fres of Paris and Wray of London produced f 6.3 lenses for the VPK. only Boyer Fres. confirmed the f 6.3 aperture by means of a supplementary plate. In the case of Beney and Wray the cameras included in the survey gave no indication of of the correct apertures. . This this last month (Jan. 2007) the purchase of a VPK with the Wray lens (still marked f 6,3) but with new f stops 6,8 to 22 engraved on the front plate and the note under 'Stops for Wray lens'. All this leads me to suspect that the restricted internal diameter of the type 'O' shutter precluded the use of lenses of this which make me think that the use of this size was wishful thinking on the part of these lens manufacturers. Recently added to this is evidence of the front lens component diameters of 12mm for the Boyer Anastigmat, 13mm for the Beney Optis Anastigmat and 14mm for the Wray Lustrar which now it transpires to be of only f6.8 maximum aperture.

A list of known lenses has been given but cannot be asserted as  complete for unrecorded models, by independent manufacturers, seem to appear regularly on the collectable camera market. I would be very grateful to receive details of any other lenses not mentioned here that have been fitted to the VPK.

11.  Lens/Shutter Escutcheons

Each lens fitted to the cameras required a separate plate showing the correct apertures for that particular lens and, except for the first plate for the Meniscus Achromat and the F6,9 Zeiss Kodak Anastigmat, all have a part number on that  plate.

The following are the Escutcheon numbers and the lenses to which they apply.

  5227   Meniscus Achromat

  8093   Zeiss Kodak Anastigmat Feb 24,  03.

  9208   Kodak Anastigmat f8, fixed focus

  9203   Kodak Anastigmat f7,7, fixed focus

12534  Meniscus Achromat

12598  Kodak Anastigmat f6,9, fixed focus

12630  Kodak Anastigmat f7,7, fixed focus

14676  Rapid Rectilinear

15288  Meniscus Achromat

15290  Kodak Anastigmat f7,7, fixed focus

15292  Kodak Anastigmat f6,9, fixed focus

16410  Kodak Anastigmat f6,9, focusing

16870  Meniscus Achromat

16984  Rapid Rectilinear

17330  Kodak Anastigmat f7,7, focusing

17982  Rapid Rectilinear

23537  Kodak Anastigmat f7,7, focusing

28698  this plate is for an f6,3 lens is found on late bodies with the f6,8 Anastigmat of   unknown make (the correct apertures for the lens marked upon a supplementary plate). To date it has not been possible to find out for which lens and camera this escutcheon was originally intended unless there was a projected  F6,3 Anastigmat that was never  fitted.

12. Dimple on Lens/Shutter escutcheon (with no reference number)

       Very early cameras with the Meniscus Achromat lens have a dimple impressed into the escutcheon to limit the opening of the lens diaphragm lever to the maximum aperture for this lens. Later cameras with this lens have a front cone with a smaller internal diameter to restrict the aperture

Left - Maximum aperture controlled by a dimple in escutcheon restricting the clockwise travel of the aperture lever (note no plate number)

Right- Maximum aperture controlled by internal diameter of front cone

13.  Rivet fixing of front plate

Late models with type ‘d’ lazy tong mechanism are fixed to front plate with rivets, all other types have screw fixing

14. Shutter type

Except for two models with the dial set Compur shutter all cameras have the Kodak Ball bearing shutter. The models with the Compur Shutter are fitted to the late version Specials. These two Specials had Zeiss Tessar or a Cooke lens. The camera with the Compur shutter and Cooke lens has not appeared in this survey and so this lens is not shown in the list of lenses.

15. Side film chamber cover.

    a. Early versions have a circular internal plate to wind on knob  up to around  1917

    b. All later versions show a triangular cutout in this plate.

a

b

16. Film spool retaining springs.

Early cameras had internal spool retaining springs fixed to the outer end of the body up to up to around 1915

All later cameras had these fixed to the inner section of the the lazy tong mechanism plate.

17. Aperture indication for independent Lens Manufacturers.

Where the lenses from independent manufacturers have been fitted to Regular Cameras, usually to the basic camera with the Meniscus Achromat lens, the apertures required are provided either by a supplementary plate or they can be engraved on the front plate of the camera under the slot for the aperture lever. There is however a small group of lenses, all of French manufacture, where no indication of the new apertures has been given. It may be that there these cameras originally had a supplementary aperture plate but in all the cases I have examined there does not appear any evidence that there has ever been such a  plate fitted.

Lenses with relevent apertures on a supplementary plate

TTH Focussing Cooke f6.5

 H. Rousell Paris Stylor 1:6,8             Som Berthiot Paris f6.8        (Sid Puder)      

Lenses with relevent apertures engraved on front plate

Beck Neostigmar f6.9

TTH Kodak Anastigmat f6.5

Lenses with no indication of the new apertures

E. Krauss Paris Tessar (no maximum aperture given on lens)

J. Demaria anastigmat (no maximum aperture given on lens)

18. Front plate foot

The drop down foot at the back of the lens panel always has the serial number of the camera. On models up to serial number 231,400 this foot was limited in its rotation by a pin on the back of the of the front plate. On all later models rotation was limited by the angle of the lazy tong mechanism.c

19. Tapered stiffening bar to the lazy tong mechanism.

The last type (d) of lazy tong mechanism has a tapered stiffening bar.

20. Spring under full spool

A spring was fitted under the end of the camera for the new film spool on cameras up to around no. 1,500,000

There are other variations in construction but these would entail dismantling  the camera and  for this reason they are not included in the survey.    They do not significantly affect the results

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Keith Christie

December 2006