Monday 4 March 2013

From my collection - Tony Middleton

The Kodak No.1 Autograph

It's some time since I showed an oldie from my collection, this one is the newest addition courtesy of one of the club members who presented me with a couple of large boxes brim full of 'vintage' equipment.

 This Kodak was tucked away in the bottom of the first box and amazed me, its condition is very good for a camera that is about 90 years old.

 To start with it looks like a perfectly normal folder from the early 1920's apart from the rather gothic font used for the name on the baseboard strut. Made in Canada c1925 using a lens and shutter made in the USA. This example has lost its front element from the lens but that's OK as I'll only display it, the autograph film is long gone, discontinued in the early 1930's.

A few interesting features, the aperture is denoted by numbers 1,2,3,4 no indication of the actual stop value which research shows was probably f8 for 1maybe f11,f16 and f22 for the other numbers; shutter speeds are limited to two plus T & B; focusing is by the screw on the left front of the base board. The large chrome knob is used to slide the bellows and lens assembly back into the body of the camera after the side struts have been released.

However the fun starts when you try to load a film, that is if you could find one that fitted!! Normal 120 will fit but the backing paper is thinner than the A120 that the camera is designed for so you probably would not get sharp images.

 First you have to slide the catch under the base board to the right, you then lift the bottom edge of the base board with the lens retracted. You can then remove the whole bellows/lens/shutter assembly encased in a metal tray. The film is then inserted into the body of the camera. As it used autograph film, which had a special backing paper, this must have been a fiddling job, nearly as bad as the early Leicas


The slot in the back of the body is for the autograph feature. After taking a picture you could open this slot by sliding a catch on the back of the camera and with a metal stylus, unfortunately as usual missing, you make a note of the date or place etc. This made a pressure exposure on the film so you had a reference.

 All together an interesting item, not very valuable as so many were made. Not very common this side of the pond but very common in the states.

 As with nearly all these early cameras it is over engineered but beautifully made, makes you wonder how many modern mass produced cameras will still be around in 90 years time

Tony Middleton

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