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Cameras/No. 1 Autographic Kodak Special (Model - A)

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No. 1 Autographic Kodak Special
No. 1 Autographic Koda  
Sir:

Is it possible to know what year this particular camera (most likely) was made?

Also, was it a common or not so common model?

- No. 1 Autographic Kodak Special
- Strap is on the (long) right side where film winder is, and not on the short top side as in so many images I've come across on the Internet
- Shutter speeds (L-R) around semi-circle above the lens: T B 200 100 50 25 10 5 2
- "Kodamatic" in semi-circle below shutter speeds
- Finder operates in both vertical and horizontal (portrait and landscape) positions; viewer rotates V and H
- Lens: "90mm Bausch - Lomb Tessar Series lc. Pat. Feb 24, 1903 No. 2553717" [I understand B&L was licensed by Zeiss to mfr(?)]
- "Eastman Kodak Co. Rochester, NY. USA" surrounds outside of lens
- Aperture guide below lens: f-4.5 [50 100 200 x] 6.3 [25 50 100 200] 8 [10 25 50 100] 11 [5 10 25 50] 16 [2 5 10 25] 22 [x 2 5 10] 32 [x x 2 5], with an extra "tick" after 32, but no aperture number (45(?) or shutter speed indications [manual (via Butkus) indicates for Interior Timed Exposures(?)]
- Lever controlling diaphragm opening, Left side, top to bottom: "Dull, Gray, Clear, Brilliant";
Right Side: "Figures Indicate Required Exposure"
- Shutter lever @ ca 10 o'clock
- Exposure button lever just below 9 o'clock
- Cable Shutter release just below that
- Distance sliding guide on left side: Feet: 100-6; Meters: 30-2 ("IC468" just before the 30)
- "Eastman Kodak/Company/Rochester N.Y. U.S.A." on plate between push-ins to slide camera in and out

BACK:
- "No. 1 Autographic/Kodak Special" on "door" with metal stylus inserted through two looped holders
- On pull-apart space of back cover: "Manufactured by/EASTMAN KODAK CO./Rochester, N.Y. U.S.A./U.S. Patents/ Jun 2, 1899,   Jan 21, 1902,   April 29, 1902,   Oct 28, 1902,   Sep 7, 1909,   May 6, 1913,   July 8, 1913,   May 19, 1914,   Jun 22, 1915,   Feb 1, 1916
Other Patents Pending"

INTERIOR:
-Imprinted on body where (wooden) take-up spool goes: "No. 1 SPECIAL KODAK/MODEL - A"

That's about it. Thanks for your help. I haven't found anything yet online to match this particular configuration.

One more thing: the shutter cable does not function as the cloth that surrounds it has frayed off about in inch, exposing the spring. Is that something that is (readily) repairable/replaceable? The other shutter button lever does work, but it is so close to the shutter-setting lever when ithat pulled down that it's often difficult to operate with ease - though it does work at all speeds. I'm taking a "test run" of pictures I took today in to be developed tomorrow; "flashlight" test showed no light leaks, so fingers crossed...

I've just downloaded about eight years worth of "Kodakery."  Utterly fascinating.

Many thanks for any thoughts, advice, guidance you may have about this model.

Answer
Hello Richard,

This very specific version of the No. 1 Autographic Kodak Special was the last variant of the Model A made in the early part of 1921.  Structurally it is identical to all the other Model A variants made from 1915, but this was the first to offer the Kodamatic shutter with the B&L Tessar Series Ic lens.  The Model A was replaced briefly later in 1921 with an intermediate design (what collectors today cleverly refer to as the "1921 type" or sometimes the "New Model"), and that in turn gave way in 1922 to the final form of Model B that remained in production through 1926.  But that Kodamatic shutter and B&L Tessar Series Ic lens was ONLY available on the Model A in the first few months of 1921, so that's the year of your camera!

In considering the current value of the No. 1 Autographic Kodak Special, specific versions or models usually make little difference.  Only the fairly uncommon "1921 Type" is significantly more valuable or desirable.  All the other variants are grouped together, and excellent examples tend to fall in the $30-$60 range.  They're just too darn common, and they don't represent any major historical significance.  Sad for such a fine old camera...

If the bellows are sound, the lens clear, and the shutter accurate, there is absolutely no reason that the camera can't still be used today.  The lens remains exceptional, even by modern standards, and #120 roll film, providing generous 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 inch negatives, is easily acquired at any full service photographic supply store.

Now some caveats.  Stick to black and white film because the lens lacks a modern coating on the glass surfaces to control flare and other issues that "dull" the image on color film.  Color will work, but only sporadically and only in the most optimal lighting conditions.  With black and white film you might consider adding a yellow filter to the front of the lens to increase contrast and balance the natural tendency towards over sensitivity to the blue spectrum of light.  This will give you sharper clouds and darker skies.  Very nice.  At the photo supply store they should have some sort of filter that will attach, and they can also provide a replacement for your broken cable release.  Finally, never open the autographic door on the back of the camera while it's loaded with film.  The old style Eastman Kodak autographic film (allowing the user to scribe notes and details on the border of each image that would appear later on the negatives) had a paper backing that was a bit thicker than what is used on current roll film.  That means there's that micro-millimeter of gap in the back of the camera that WILL leak light if you open the autographic door.  Otherwise, assuming the good bellows and no other structural issues, you're good to go!

Have fun!

Best wishes,

David F. Silver - President
International Photographic Historical Organization  

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David Silver

Expertise

I'm an expert on all types of antique, classic, and contemporary cameras, as well as the general history of photography. Everything from ancient box cameras to modern single-lens-reflex; from simple Kodaks to sophisticated Leica and Nikon; from glass plates and roll film to movie and 35mm. I can identify and appraise them, explain how they work, and offer insights on their restoration and care. I can also provide historical background on vintage cameras and equipment, and guidelines on their purchase and sale.

Experience

I've been a professional photographer and a student of the history of photography for nearly 30 years. During that time my collection of vintage cameras and photographic paraphernalia has grown beyond 2000 significant pieces. I've published nearly 70 articles in the field, including 16 in the popular "Buying Classic Cameras" series for PHOTO SHOPPER MAGAZINE from 1995 to 1997, I'm currently a contributing editor for CAMERA SHOPPER MAGAZINE and McKEOWN'S PRICE GUIDE TO ANTIQUE AND CLASSIC CAMERAS, and I've written numerous entries for WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA. Portions of my collection have been displayed in museums and special exhibits in the past two decades, and many of the items were photographed as illustrations for books. In 1985 I founded the International Photographic Historical Organization (InPHO), which eventually evolved into its intended purpose as the best first resource for information on the history of photography. I'm also a founding member of several e-mail forums dedicated to specialized areas of photography, and I'm the moderator of the Internet Directory of Camera Collectors (IDCC), which remains the largest and most successful such group in the world. For more information about the International Photographic Historical Organization and its many services, please visit its web pages at:

http://www.photographyhistory.com


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