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No. 3A Autographic Kodak Special, US Army Signal Corps Model (1916)

If you are looking for something special, this is one of the best I can show you. The camera in the video belongs to the rarest of Kodaks. Only 100 were made in 1916 for the US Army Signal Corps. They were called "Signal Corps K-3". Every camera was numbered. This one is number 34. It still has its original case.

According to the literature there were two versions: one with brown suede leather and black anodized metal parts, and another with smooth brown leather and brass fittings. My specimen in the video has smooth brown leather and dull military green fittings. The photo below shows what might be the other version. It is in the collection of the George Eastman House. It has no serial number and is believed to be a prototype. Ryan Reuterskiold was so kind to send the picture to me and it is shown here with the kind permission of the GEH.

3A Autographic Kodak Special US Army Signal Corps military version

There isn't much more I can tell about these military cameras, but there are some other interesting things. These can also be found on the usual No. 3A Autographic Kodak Special. Most important feature is the rangefinder below the lens. It was the first rangefinder on a camera ever. It was introduced in February 1916. The photographer could set the proper distance with help of the rangefinder and so avoid images that were not focussed properly.

Second interesting feature is the autographic provision on the back panel. This little door could be opened and with the metal stylus (attached to the door) one could write on the film, at least if the camera was loaded with special autographic film. The text appeared on the negative, just below the image, and could be printed with it as shown in the photo of the trench below.

The 3A Kodaks made photographs in the so called postcard size, 3 1/4 x 5 1/2 inch (8.2 x 13.8 cm). The photo below is a print of such a negative. It was taken on November 6, 1917 by 2nd Lieutenant Robert N. Allen. The (Canadian?) soldiers in the picture were on a training at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. On one side information is written on the film when the picture was taken: "Trench const.[ruction] E.O.T.C. 11/6/17 12 1/30". The last numbers are the aperture setting of f/12 and the shutter speed of 1/30 th of a second. The names of the people in the photo are written in ink on the negative.