The

Story

of the

Vest

Pocket

Kodak

 

 Elie Xavier MAZO

In November 2006 whilst browsing the pages of the Ebay online auction I came across a Vest Pocket Kodak with a lens by a French manufacturer that I had not previously known, namely Mazo of Paris, the details referred to a Mazo Anastigmat, this I had to have and duly bid for and was successful.

The camera has the name and address of E. Mazo, 33, Bd. St. Martin, Paris on the front plate and the lens is marked only with Mazo Anastigmat Paris with neither max. aperture nor focal length.

In my attempt to find out something about this new (to me) camera manufacturer I immediately went to Google and quickly discovered the site http://www.luikervaal.com an excellent site devoted to all aspects of slide projection with information of a very high order. From this site I discovered that the manufacturer was Elie Xavier MAZO a French publisher and lantern and slide manufacturer who appeared in Paris in 1892. By 1896 his shop offered a large selection of various magic lanterns for home and professional use, as well as slides. Illustrated in the site is a catalogue he produced in 1920 from an address at 33 Boulevard St. Martin, Paris, the address that is shown on the face plate of this camera. though this catalogue consisted mainly of magic lanterns etc. it also included cameras.

The camera on Ebay would have been produced at Rochester in 1916 with a Menicus Achromat lens and has the escutcheon no. 5227 to match, so it could have been adapted by E. Mazo anytime after this date.

What is most unusual about this lens, which shows no focal length or max. aperture, that it has in fact a focal length at least 10 mm shorter than the lenses usually associated with the VPK, therefore, in order to accommodate it in the camera, it has been necessary to solder two spacers to each side of the lazy tong to limit the extension  of the front plate to suit. Whilst neatly done it does appear to be a somewhat temporary modification and because of this the usual locking effect on the  lazy tong, when extended, does not operate and the front plate is very easily moved out of place when extended..

The lettering  on the front plate and on the lens rim whilst very neat appears to be hand engraved and this also leads one to suspect that this camera may be a prototype not yet to  fully developed. In its present state it certainly could not be easily used or even saleable. It would be interesting to see whether any further adaptations appear from this firm. If any other VPK collectors do have such a camera I would be very interested to hear from them to compare details.

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Keith Christie

December 2006