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Folding Pocket Kodak (1897 - 1899)

The Folding Pocket Kodak is one of the milestone cameras in my collection. When it was introduced in August of 1897 it was one of the first really pocketable cameras with an acceptable (for snapshooters) picture size.
It also was a very succesful camera, 200.000 being sold until its end in April 1915 (together with the renamed model No. 1 Folding Pocket Kodak). The camera in the video is the rare original model. There are many transitional models between this original one and the No. 1 Folding Pocked Kodak that replaced the Folding Pocket Kodak in April 1899.

Another reason to call it a milestone is that it is the first of a long range of other, but similar models: Nos. 0, 1, 1A, 2, 3, 3A, 4,  4A Folding Pocket Kodaks, the Autographic versions of many of these, and all kind of copies by competing manufacturers. Someone has called it the Adam of the folding pocket camera.

The camera cost $ 10 and took 12 pictures with a size of 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 inch (5.5 x 8 cm) on a daylight loading spool. See the end of this page for instructions how to open a Folding Pocket Kodak.

An important part of its design is the construction of the struts. Many folding cameras had to be extended by pulling out the lenspanel on a rail on the baseboard. To get a sharp focused image, the lenspanel had to be extended to an exact point. A slight mistake resulted in unsharp pictures. The struts of the Folding Pocket Kodak extended themselves with the help of two springs, once pulled out an inch or so. The mechanism stopped at exactly the needed distance. In the patent (610.153) this is described in detail.
Why is this so important? The camera was intended for amateur photographers, who didn't want to bother with technical details, but just wanted to have a reliable camera at hand when they saw something worth taking a picture of. The small (6 3/4 x 3 1/2 x 1 5/8 inch or 17 x 9 x 4 cm) camera with its foolproof struts fitted well into their pocket or handbag and was just the ideal instrument for these snapshooters.

Original photo made with a Folding Pocket Kodak in the Philippines in 1898.

Very clean photo that was taken with a Folding Pocket Kodak. The name of the camera is embossed on the mat but hardly visible.

 Instruction booklet for the original version of the Folding Pocket Kodak.

Unopened box of film for the Folding Pocket Kodak.



 Photo from a Kodak Souvenir album filled with Folding Pocket Kodak photos of a tour through France. Here the ladies of the family pose in their very early model car in the town of Saint Sulpice de Favieres.



I often get the question how to open the back of a Folding Pocket Kodak, so here is a short instruction.

Photo 1
Look for a catch at the side. It looks like a small brass bar. The earliest FPK's do not have such a catch. If you don't see the catch go to photo 2.
If there is a catch, you have to push it to the left. Two or three millimeters will do.


Photo 2
Now slide the back upwards, like in the photo. If you have an early model with no catch, the back is held in place by friction. So maybe you will have push a bit harder. The trick is to hold the part with the lens panel with your thumbs and use the other fingers to push the back upwards.


Photo 3
This photo shows how the back with the curved sides slides over the body of the camera.