Friday, 1 May 2015

The Vest Pocket Kodak Camera and 127 Roll Film

While the Katikati Heritage Museum spends a few months in hibernation, we will be showcasing a selection of items from the collection which were photographed and catalogued during the packing up process last year.
Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak camera, 1915-1920
Courtesy of the Katikati Heritage Collection, Ref. 0070

In April 1912 Eastman Kodak Ltd produced a new folding camera, the Vest Pocket Kodak, which used a new 127 format roll film on a metal spool, specifically designed to be a handy, compact alternative to larger folding cameras using 120 film.

Illustration from 1912 Kodak Catalogue
The company's 1912 catalogue, listing it for a price of $6.00, claimed it was:
"... so flat and smooth and small as to go readily into a vest pocket, so carefully made as to be capable of the highest grade of work ..." and "... always ready for action."
Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak camera with leather case, No 1 Portrait attachment lens and spool of 127 format film
Collection of Brett Payne
For another 75 cents the customer received a leather case, while an 8 exposure film cartridge and a portrait attachment lens cost only 20c and 50c respectively.

Illustration from 1915 Kodak Catalogue
Less than three years later, the Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak was introduced, with a feature which allowed the photographer to inscribe a caption on the film negative through a special window on the camera's back.

Soldier during the Great War, April 1915, Willisborough Lees, Kent, England
Photographic print from 127 format film, Collection of Brett Payne
The standard model, constructed of aluminium with a black enamel finish, quickly became popular amongst soldiers serving on the front during the Great War, becoming "the most successful camera of its day," and almost 2 million of them had been sold by the time the pattern was discontinued in 1926.

Baby Brownie (1934-1941) and Brownie 127 (1952-1959) cameras
Courtesy of the Katikati Heritage Collection, Ref. 0074
Use of the 127 format film continued throughout the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s in small, inexpensive soild body box-style cameras such as the Baby Brownie (1934-1941) and the Brownie 127 (1952-1959).  In the 1960s and 1970s, however, it was largely superseded by 126, 110 cartridge and 35 mm formats.


127 film, Wikipedia.
Coe, Brian (1978) Cameras: From Daguerreotype to Instant Pictures, Crown Publisher, Inc., p. 104.
Coe, Brian (1988) Kodak Cameras: The First Hundred Years, Hove Foto Books, Hove, East Sussex, p. 168-173.
Gustavson, Todd (2009) Camera: A History of Photography from Daguerreotype to Digital,  Sterling Publishing, Toronto, p. 178-183.
Niederman, Rob & Zahorcak, Milan (2011) The Digitized Kodak Catalog Project, 1886 to 1941, privately published on CD-ROM.

Text by Brett Payne

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