No. 2 FOLDING POCKET KODAK MODEL A
1899


In the late 1890s Kodak's camera designer, Frank Brownell, took note of the tremendous popularity of the Kodak wooden-bodied Bull's-Eye box camera and 101 film, with its generous 3-1/2 square format. He came up with a design to essentially make a collapsable Bull's-Eye for easier portability. The result was the No. 2 Folding Pocket Kodak, which was first offered in 1899 as the Model A. Like box cameras of the era, it had a rotary shutter, simple fixed-focus meniscus lens, and three aperture stops operated by a pull-lever. It had a large square front panel, leather-covered like the rest of the camera, but was fitted with bellows to allow it to be folded to only 1-3/4 thick, or expanded to 5-1/2 when in use. The body of the camera was made of lightweight aluminum, which was fairly costly at the time. The result was a simple point-and-shoot box-style camera in compact form. Still, given the 6-3/4 x 4-1/2 x 1-3/4 size and over 1 lb. weight, it required a very generous pocket to carry it.

Unlike the Bull's-Eye or later box cameras, the feed and take-up spools are at the sides of the film plane rather than looped around to the front of it. This results in a slightly wider camera, but infinitely more compact when folded. It was much more convenient than equivalent box cameras. Priced at $15 (equal to about $425 today), it was fairly costly, and nearly double the price of the contemporary Bull's-Eye Model D. Convenience came at a cost.

The Model A Folding Pocket Kodak was later succeeded by the Model B, but the only significant improvement was the addition of a cover over the viewfinder. (The later 1904 Model C was a major improvement over the original design, thanks to a superior lens.)

Unlike most folding cameras which followed in the 1910s through the 1930s, the orientation is horizontal rather than vertical. The introduction of this handsome and convenient model led to a long series of other folding cameras in the decades following the No. 2 PFK, while the once fairly costly box cameras of the 1890s and early 1900s were largely abandoned in the Kodak line and were relegated to cheap cameras under the Brownie label.

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