Vintage Kodak Folding Cameras
Vintage Kodak folding cameras were produced by the American photographic company, Kodak, in the first half of the twentieth century.
History & Description
Kodak was originally founded under the name The Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company in 1884. Initially a manufacturer of camera equipment, such as glass, chemicals and paper, the company made its first camera model in 1889.
A folding camera is essentially a camera body that has a lens attached to a collapsible mechanism similar to a pantograph. Folding cameras were the principal type of cameras from the beginning of the twentieth century until World War II. As the only film formats available were medium or large format films, the folding cameras ability to be folded into a small compact shape was very appealing.
While Kodak is primarily known for producing high-quality camera film, the company should also be acknowledged for revolutionising the world of amateur photography. Kodak was one of the first photographic companies to market cheap, user-friendly and portable folding cameras.
In 1889, the first folding Kodak folding cameras were produced. Instead of photography being strictly for professionals, these small, affordable cameras suddenly put photographic technology into the hands of the average person. By the turn of the twentieth century, the term “Kodaking” was often used a replacement for “photographing”.
Guide for collectors
Antique Kodak folding cameras can be purchased from a number of online outlets, including Ioffer.com, Steptoesantiques.co.uk and Vintagecameras.co.uk. Prices on these sites tend to range from £5 to £100.
In addition, there are a number of great resources for antique Kodak folding cameras on the internet, most notably Collectorsweekly.com, Antiques-lovetoknow.com and Antiquecameras.net. These sites offer invaluable information about the types and individual histories of Kodak folding cameras and how to maintain and repair existing items.
Furthermore, folding camera enthusiasts should visit the online Wiki-style camera orientated encyclopaedia, found at Camerapidia.wikia.com. Similarly, collectors that are interested specifically in Kodak’s “Brownie” models should visit Brownie-camera.com.
At present, no antique Kodak folding cameras have sold at international auction houses, such as Bonhams, Christie’s or Sotheby’s. Instead, collectors can find a comprehensive range of antique Kodak folding cameras on online budding sites, such as eBay, who continually advertise several pages of antique Kodak folding cameras, including “Brownie”, “Hawk-Eye” and “Vest Pocket” models.
Prices typically range between $20 and $80, however, rarer examples have exceeded $120. For example, a rare Kodak 1929-1933 folding camera with a diamond door sold on eBay on February 10th 2012 for $175.95.
The most sought after examples of antique Kodak folding cameras are models made in the 1930s that feature Art Deco designs and motifs. Equally collectable are the petite folding cameras that were marketed specifically for female buyers. On eBay, these models have been advertised from $90 up to $200.
Notable auction sales
On February 10th, a Kodak Six-16 616 Art Deco folding camera sold on eBay for £135.50. The camera was fully functional and came with its original instruction manual.
On February 9th 2012, an antique Kodak large-format folding camera sold on eBay for $150. The camera was equipped with a working 6 ½ x 8 ½ lens. The camera body itself, however, was broken.
On February 10th 2012, an antique Kodak “Brownie” Six-20 folding camera was sold on eBay for $175.
On February 10th 2012, an antique Kodak “Rainbow Hawk Eye” folding camera, circa 1920, was sold on eBay for $52.
On February 5th 2012, an antique Kodak “Vest Pocket” autographic folding camera, circa 1913, was sold on eBay for $35.
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