The

Story

of the

Vest

Pocket

Kodak

VPK Special withDial set Compur Shutter and Carl Zeiss f4,9 Tessar lens

VPK with Kodak Anastigmat f8 lens in ‘Gift set with ‘Imported Leather Carrying Case’ and ‘Silk Lined Container

This website originated with an exercise in examining the construction of a camera that was produced by Eastman Kodak prior to the First World War and its subsequent development over the next 14 years. It is a tribute to the excellence of the basic design that over this period it changed little in its outward appearance and ran to a production in excess of 2 million cameras, with many different manufacturers considering it worthwhile to fit their own lenses in the camera.

In 1984 the late Ron Lockton, a member of the Photographic Collectors Club of Great Britain, carried out  a survey on this camera the “type A” Vest Pocket Kodak and the result of his survey was published in the November 1984 issue of the PCCGB Journal

His survey was taken from about 140 cameras of PCCGB members and detailed the various changes to the construction of  the camera over the 14 years that the model was in production. He also attempted to assign dates to the camera body numbers by these design changes. He had found that there were three distinct number series, the largest number series (up to nearly 1.9 million) was applicable to the regular cameras and the other two smaller series applicable to ‘Special‘ cameras. Later versions of these cameras had Morocco leather covering to the body  though the earlier specials were only identified by having better quality lenses.

At the time of the article I had in my collection a number of these cameras and my interest in this survey started when I realised that there were many more lenses and variations not listed. I then produced a much more detailed questionnaire than that of the original of 1984 and this was circulated to members of the club. As a result of this second survey (of some 250 plus cameras) a great deal of further information appeared, including what might be a new number series and details of many more lenses, mainly from the independent lens manufacturers.

The research is far from complete, one lens mentioned by Ron Lockton, that has not resurfaced is the Verax (Unger and Hoffmann Dresden?) and I am sure there must be others. I would appreciate any comments on this research or information from collectors who have examples of the VPK that would add to or amend any of the information given here. I can be contacted at keithkcam@blueyonder.co.uk should anyone be able to help me in the furtherance of this research.

Links:- Photographers Collectors Club of Great Britain http://:www.pccgb.com/

     

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Keith Christie

December 2006