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Kodak Vest Pocket Autographic favori envoyer Print
Photos by Sylvain Halgand text by Sylvain Halgand. From the collection of Sylvain Halgand
France Version française

Chronology of the Kodak brand  New window

Manufactured in Etats-Unis from 1915 until 0.
Index of rarity in France : Frequent (among non-specialized garage sales)
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Inventory number: 309

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Kodak Vest Pocket Autographic

Traduction de Leigh Solland, Canada

The Vest Pocket first appeared in April, 1912, and its small size made it a big success. However, what made it a true best-seller was the appearance of the Autographic model in January, 1915. All Vest Pockets used 127 film , but what made the Autographic different was its use of a special film, on which it was possible to write a few words with a small metal stylus, through a trap door on the back of the camera.

The writing appeared on the processed negatives and prints, without otherwise affecting the film.
The pictures measured 40 x 65 mm, with eight exposures on each roll of film. The shutter offered Bulb and Time exposure (B and T) and "instant" speeds of 1/25 and 1/50 seconds. The shutter was the Kodak Ball-Bearing # 0, but lenses from various manufacturers were available, according to the Photo-Plait catalog of 1925 :

A leather-covered version was called the Vest Pocket Autographic Special. In 1925, they were replaced by a highly modified version: the Model B.

It was called '“the Kodak of the soldiers,” not “the camera of the trenches,” as I was once told by a second-hand dealer. The nickname, “Kodak of the soldiers,” does not seem to have come from its popular success, but rather from the advertizing spiel of Photo-Plait, which in turn became a sales pitch to collectors several decades later. It seems obvious that our "poilus" had little chance of owning one. In wartime, they had concerns (survival, hygiene, the cold, the mess kit!) other than the possession of a camera, and few would have had the financial means to acquire it. And besides, where are all the photographs supposedly taken by the soldiers in the trenches?

Advice to collectors: Always check for the metal stylus on the back of the camera before acquiring it. I have never seen the stylus sold separately.

Kodak Vest Pocket Autographic

Kodak Vest Pocket Autographic

Kodak Vest Pocket Autographic

Kodak Vest Pocket Autographic