This is considered one of Kodak's most beautiful and desirable cameras. Like the Beau Brownie, this was designed by Walter Dorwin Teague, with classic Art Deco / Streamline Moderne styling. The case is made of cast aluminum, with hard glossy enamel coating between the horizontal raised and polished stripes. The sides taper to elegant Deco curves. It features a "clam shell" front panel to protect the lens. It is surprisingly small, making it convenient to carry.
Bantam Specials were made from 1936 to 1948. Prior to WWII they were fitted with German Compur shutters. With the onset of the war, this was changed to a US-made Supermatic. This particular camera came with the original instruction manual bearing a printing date of April 1937, so it's safe to assume it was first sold that year. The original owner is unknown but he or she evidently gave it up after only two years since this came with a sales receipt dated 1939 indicating it was sold as a used camera for $59.50. The buyer was Col. F.H. Fay, whose address was listed as the AT&T Building in NYC. This name is also written in pencil on the inside of the camera. Fay was a communications specialist for AT&T, having served with the US Army in France during WWI. He was awarded a citation by the French government for his work, and also received a citation for meritorious service under General Pershing during that war.
Originally priced at a whopping $115 (almost $2,500 in today's dollars), it was lowered to $87.50 ($1,850) by 1938. Col. Fay's $59.50 cost for a used Bantam Special was still equivalent to more than $1,200 today. Not a cheap camera by any stretch. It took 828 film, which was essentially (mostly) unperforated 35mm film with a paper backing. There were single hole perforations to align each of the 8 exposures automatically. Unfortunately 828 film went out of production in 1985, though at least one producer makes a substitute today, without the alignment perforations.
(RETURN TO MAIN KODAK PAGE)