So my parents gave me this old camera for Christmas – a large, worn leatherbound aluminum case with shiny nickel fittings, that concealed intricate, shiny brass knobs, dials and gauges, along with a set of pristine red bellows. As my mom put it, it was a bit “like a Chinese puzzle to open,” but I finally figured it out.
This was a No. 3A Folding Pocket Kodak, advertised as a camera that could be carried in a top coat pocket. If you had big pockets – the camera measures 1 7/8 x 4 3/4 x 9 1/2 inches when closed! The 3A Folding Pocket Kodak series was manufactured by Eastman Kodak from 1903 to 1915, in various models including B, B-2, B-3, B-4, B-5, C, and G.
The B-4 – this model – was manufactured from June 1908 to April 1909. Depending on the lens and shutter, original price ranged from $20.00 to $78.00 and took 3 1/4 x 5 1/2 inch images on No. 122 film.
I thought I’d take a look inside the film compartment. A bit more careful twisting and pulling of random knobs, pushing of protrusions and finally the back popped off. And there was the red backing paper of a nearly-completed roll of 122 film!
I knew that, with the move from India, and a planned move to Virginia and eventually to Madagascar, it would be months before I would have access to the equipment and supplies I needed to develop “found film.” So I decided to package it up and send it off to the experts at Film Rescue International. A bit more expensive, but also a notably higher chance of ending up with actual images (yes it’s true, it doesn’t always work out when I do it myself!)
So a camera that’s at least 107 years old – what were the odds that the pictures would actually turn out? Fortunately, back in those days, people would use cameras for years and years – decades – unlike today’s disposable cameras. In fact, if you could get the film (they stopped making it in 1971) this camera would still be usable today.
So thanks to the work of the folks at Film Rescue International, here are the photos:
Really just the first two came out, but I’ll include the other two just in case. Bonus points to anyone who can identify the make and year of the car. My money is on the 1960 Chevrolet Impala.
For more found film, check out this link.