Kodak Bantam Special Cameras
Kodak Bantam Special Cameras are collectible vintage cameras produced by Kodak during the 1930s.
Brief history and description
Kodak Bantam Special cameras were launched in 1936, instated as the luxury wing of camera brand Kodak Bantam. The camera design was perfected with different models until around 1938, and was part of a limited edition range.
Cast in aluminium with an enamelled finish, the Kodak Bantam Special was intended to signify a bold new aesthetic, and is enduringly regarded not only as an iconic piece of camera kit, but as having an enduring functionality to match.
Kodak Bantam Special cameras are designed with a compact folding design, which means they must be opened to be used. It also makes for a highly transportable unit and prevents the camera and its lens from suffering external or internal damage, which means they are often purchased in extremely good condition despite their age.
Guide for collectors
The cameras themselves are highly coveted by collectors, as are their associated accessories. Kodak Bantam Special cameras come in a variety of plush designs and many, having been desirable and well-loved items to their original owners, are purchased in near-perfect condition second hand, both cosmetically and in terms of their practical working capabilities. This is made possible not only due to the care of previous owners but the camera’s unique ‘folding’ design which helps prevent scratches from forming.
Given the limited edition nature of the item, Kodak Bantam Special cameras are also very rare, and this only adds to their collectability. They are featured primarily at specialist auctions, though they are also purchasable through online sources. Information on this method of purchase and authentication of a particular piece can be found at websites such as HistoricCamera.com.
As with most collectables, prices will differ dependent on the condition and age of any given camera, with those in full working condition selling for more than those with minor faults, though the cameras are such a desirable item that they rarely appear for prices below $100. This sets them apart from many collectables, as whilst their value is still judged on a financial curve, it is by no means as radical a factor as with most objects deemed as collectable.
Notable auction sales
The most expensive Kodak Bantam Special camera to sell at auction was sold from WestLicht Photographica Auction on 21st May 2005 for $366. In the same price-range and at the same auction, a Kodak Bantam Special camera with an art-deco design sold for $310, and at a Skinner auction on 23rd August 2008, a Kodak Bantam Special camera with black and chrome art sold for $300.
In the middling price-range, a Kodak Bantam Special camera dated from 1936 sold for $220 from Auction Team Breker on 1st October 2005. In addition, the same auction also sold a Kodak Bantam Special original box, dated from 1936, for €200; the lot included a 32-page manual and price tag. Similarly, Guernsey’s sold a Kodak Bantam Special on 18th October 2007 for $175.
The lowest price paid at auction for a Kodak Bantam Special was £120 from Bonhams auctioneers on 21st October 2003.