The Kodak “Ordinary” series was released in 1891 and sold up to 1895. Made in three sizes, the A was the smallest, yielding pictures of 2-3/4 x 3-1/4”. The B & C models were larger and more popular, making the compact Ordinary A the scarcest today. Made to be inexpensive (only $6 for the A, versus $25 for the similarly-sized Kodak No. 1), the wooden cases were left in uncovered natural wood, unlike all of Kodak's standard cameras which were covered in costly black leather (and later, leatherette). By today's standards, the Ordinary's beautifully dovetailed and polished wood body with brass fittings is considered much more attractive than the common black leather cameras of the era.
Rather than advertise the Ordinary series as 'cheap,' Kodak called them 'good value for the money.' The A has a fixed-focus lens and aperture, and a single speed. It was quintessential point-and-shoot. However there were no finders, so the user had to try to align a scene using V-shaped lines scored into the top and side panel as a rough guide, as on the Original Kodak).
Unlike Kodak's expensive lineup of the time, numbers 1 through 4, the Ordinary camera did not have to be sent back to the factory to be loaded with fresh film. For the first time ever, the user could insert film himself. However, the Ordinary series predates the introduction of opaque paper-backed film, which began with the Boston Bull's-Eye in 1892 and was first used by Kodak in 1895. Consequently the film had to be loaded and unloaded in a darkroom.
Like other Kodaks of the era, the shutter must be cocked by pulling a string on the top in order to prepare it to fire. Collectors refer to these as “string-set” cameras. It is about the same size as the compact Original Kodak) of 1888, measuring only 3-1/2” x 4” x 7-1/4”, and weighing just over a pound. This Ordinary A camera is in amazing original condition, complete with felt lens cap and original instruction manual. It truly looks like it could have left the factory yesterday.
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