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Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special (1915 – 1926)

This camera is special indeed, as it is a top of the line VPK model with high quality Taylor-Taylor-Hobson Cooke f/4.5 Aviar focussing anastigmat lens and Compur shutter. It was made in England for the European market. It seems that lens- and shutterless VPK bodies manufactured in the US or Canada were shipped to England, where the high quality lenses and shutters were added for European consumers who preferred a high end product.

The US versions of the VPK Autographic Special sported high quality lenses also, like Kodak or Bausch & Lomb Anastigmats or Zeiss Tessars, but were equiped with a simple Ball Bearing shutter with time setting of 1/25 and 1/50 of a second. The UK versions were produced with the Ball Bearing shutter or with the better Compur shutter. Variations with a Ball Bearing shutter have several high end lenses like the Taylor-Taylor-Hobson Kodak f/6.5 Anastigmat, Ross Homocentric f/6.8, Cooke Series III f/6.5 or Zeiss Tessar f/6.8. Variations with the Compur shutter have a focussing Taylor-Taylor-Hobson Cooke Anastigmat f/4.5 or focussing Zeiss Tessar f/4.9. My model of the UK VPK Autographic Special has a focussing TT&H Cooke Aviar Anastigmat f/4.5.

The Compur shutter has the following time settings: 1, 1/2, 1/5, 1/10, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/300 second, plus T(ime) and B(ulb).
The lens apertures are: 4.5, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22, 32.
The lens has distance settings in feet: 3 1/2, 4, 5, 7, 10, 15, 25 and infinity.

The Aviar was developed for aerial photography in 1916 and adapted for general photography in the early 1920's. Advertisements for several sizes of the TT&H Cooke Aviar appeared in 1921. According to “Kodak Cameras : the first hundred years”, by Brian Coe, the VPK Autographic Special was discontinued in September 1926. He also mentions that the camera was available with the Aviar lens in 1922. So I think that my camera was made between 1922 and September 1926.

All the versions with Compur shutter are rare and highly desirable collectibles.