Pocket Kodak, Model of '96 (1896)

Pocket Kodak, Model of '96

      The Pocket Kodak is an American box camera manufactured from 1896-1913 in Rochester, NY. It takes 12, 1 1/2 x 2in. pictures on a roll of No.102 film. I have made adapter spools and a mask to use 135 film with this example. The Pocket Kodak is built with the technology absorbed when Kodak bought out the Boston Camera Co.; this makes this the first Kodak camera with a ruby window, paper backed film, and the film loaded in front of the film plane.

    The Pocket Kodak cameras are extremely sturdy; the entire body is made of cherry wood with a coarse grain Morocco leather covering. All the mechanism and hardware is made of metal, with many components, including the spool, being brass.

    Like most other box cameras, the Pocket Kodak has a single element meniscus lens. This has three apertures selectable with a tab on the top of the camera: f/10, f/14, & f/22. The shutter is a simple rotary affair with Instant (1/25s) and Time modes, selectable with another tab on the top. The shutter is fired with the lever located near the two tabs. The shutter is present in front of the lens, which alleviates a lens cap, like other Kodak box cameras.

    To open the camera, the metal tab on the bottom of the front of the camera is pulled out and the top section of the camera is lifted. The film is loaded in accordance to the wording on the film holder itself. Interestingly, the winding key unscrews (with a left-handed thread) allowing the spool to be removed. Winding is done through this key and spacing determined with the ruby window on the back. I have manufactured a spool and a mask (see below) in order to be able to take pictures on 35mm film.

    Unlike its bigger brother, the No.2 Bulls Eye, the viewfinder on the Pocket Kodak is very effective. It is a Watson type finder, but it is comparatively clear. Realistically, however, it is more likely to be just pointed at the subject.

    I plan on taking this camera out soon and seeing how it functions. I wholly expect it to perform just as well as the Bulls Eye.

Mask for full-frame sized shots.

Shutter and mechanism design.

Left to Right: No.101 spool, No.120 spool, No.102 spool.

Scale with Matchbox

Scale next to Cartridge Premo No. 00


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