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Pocket Kodak (1895)

The tiny Pocket Kodak was introduced in July 1895 in a black and a red model. In June 1896 the camera was modified when a rotary shutter replaced the sector shutter.

Some figures:

  • It made 12 photos of 1.5 x 2 inches (3,8 x 5 cm) on a daylight loading spool.
  • Although the pictures are very small, the Pocket Kodak was enormously popular, with 50.000 procuded in 1895, 50.000 in 1896, 25.000 in 1897. From 1898 the numbers were smaller. Alltogether about 147.000 were made.
  • The Pocket Kodak was discontinued in 1900.
  • Price was $ 5.00

In the video you see:

  • A red 1895 model
  • The very rare plate holder for a glass plate (yes, the Pocket Kodak could take photos on glass plates instead of roll film!)
  • A 1896 model with rotary shutter
  • A black 1895 model
  • The leather case with room for the camera and extra film

Model '95 with photos made by a Pocket Kodak.

There may be different reasons why it was such a succesful camera.

  • It is just a cute little thing and in all its simplicity it is one of my favorites. Like the dealers said in 1895: "it sells on sight".
  • Other reasons are its low price and its small size. People really could put it in their pockets or handbags and take pictures of all the things they liked.
  • It also was easy to use: "one button does it" said the ads. Photography became fun and wasn't restricted anymore to gentlemen with tripods and heavy equipment, who very seriously tried to produce works of art. The Pocket Kodak really contributed a lot to make photography popular.

Some technical remarks: the Pocket Kodak is one of the first cameras that use frontroll design, daylight film spools and the red window to see the number on the back of the film. But it is not THE first one. The Boston Bull's-eye was the real first one, and the Kodak Bullet of early 1895 was the first Kodak with all three innovations. See the pages about the Boston Bull's-Eyes for more explanation.

Photo from a Kodak Souvenirs album for pictures in Pocket Kodak size.

The tiny Pocket Kodak did much to popularize snapshot photography. Unlike the serious amateur, the "family photographer" was not interested in perfection, technique and artistic results. He or she wanted to snap a happy moment or pretty scene. Subjects were often family members, friends or holiday locations.



Ad in Cosmopolitan, October 1895.