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Vintage Kodak Covers - The Rise of Amateur Photography

In Cameras > Kodak Cameras > Show & Tell and Books > Catalogs > Show & Tell.
Cameras793 of 1297Ingersoll Shure Shot Detective Camera, c.1897 Camera
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Posted 6 years ago

(292 items)

I chose this grouping of Kodak consumer catalogue covers to illustrate how the company was marketing to families in the early 1900s. Advances in technology made it much easier to make great pictures any place for any occasion. It's also a tribute to how things were a hundred years ago before automated film cameras and digital photography. These catalogues span years that represent a major transition point in photography.

As a side note, the demise of Kodak is sad and I will miss the company's products. I grew up with the yellow and red boxes and the smell of chemistry in their retail stores. I used their film, paper, and chemistry; had a darkroom by the age of 11; and studied with Ansel Adams in 1980 while shooting large format film (up to 11 x 14 inches). Kodak made this all possible, and their consumer catalogs were especially important in my becoming an accomplished amateur photographer (and having done some freelance professional work in the 1980s).

On the left, this 1903 cover depicts a man shooting travel photos. The theme of this issue is; "The Darkroom is Abolished", itinerant shooting is now easy when using Kodak's new daylight loading film cartridge. You no longer needed a darkroom to load a camera before taking pictures.

The middle image is 1906. It's theme is "The Home Side" and a touching commentary that, even in our later years, memories are lasting: "An old, old friend drops in for the evening. Talk turns to other days and presently the ancient family album and the basket of loose photographs appear from somewhere. Full they are of pleasant memories and reminiscent mood each of you recalls a tale of the past that through the years has remained as clear within the mind as a happening of yesterday."

The third cover is 1913 and celebrates a quarter century of "Kodakery." Look carefully and you'll see the number 25 hanging on a railing. The man is holding what appears to be a flag, which might suggest the couple is attending and taking pictures of some kind of event. The theme of this issue is amateur photography having begun. Prior to 1888 there were; "small bands of enthusiasts willing, for their love of picture taking, to struggle with imperfect apparatus and complicated chemical processes."

These covers are from the Kodak Catalog Project - refer to the following CW URL for more information: http://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/information-wants-to-be-free-56-years-of-kodak-camera-catalogs-now-available/


  1. rniederman rniederman, 6 years ago
    Thanks, Phil! Yes. Meeting Ansel was a very special experience. He and his wife Virginia were very open to those of us wanting to learn more. I was shooting 4x5 at the time when we all went out to Mono Lake. The Kodak catalogue project took 18 months. Most of the catalogues came from a single collector, and the rest came from others. It took over 6 months to coordinate the project before getting going. The biggest challenge was getting it to a manageable level.
  2. rniederman rniederman, 6 years ago
    Thanks pw-collector, Kathycat, and packrat-place!
  3. rniederman rniederman, 6 years ago
    Thanks, officialfuel!
  4. rniederman rniederman, 6 years ago
    Thanks walksoftly, inky, Sean, and bratjdd!

    Sean ... also thanks for the great comment.
  5. rniederman rniederman, 6 years ago
    Thanks, miKK0!
  6. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
    Thanks, mustangtony!
  7. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
    Thanks, vetraio50!
  8. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
    Thanks, inky!
  9. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
    Thanks, Oldies1199!
  10. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
    Thanks, michaeln544!
  11. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
    Thanks, aghcollect!

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