The No. 5 Folding Kodak was in production from 1890 through 1897. This model was one of the line of cameras known as a "Satchel" Kodak because when closed, the camera and its long strap, resembled a large leather bag or a satchel. And given this camera's size, it was quite necessary to sling this across one's shoulders and carry it like a large satchel in order to use the camera without a tripod. The illustration on the right (from the instruction manual) gives you a sense of the scale of the camera and how Kodak intended for it to be used "hand-held."
After Eastman's success with the "original" Kodak Camera in 1888, he followed up in 1890 with, "an entirely new style of Kodak embodying the Kodak principle but folding up into about 2/3 the space. It is self contained,when closed, and can be opened and focused in two motions. It is the most compact and simple folding camera ever made and can be used either for tripod or detective work." New Kodaks and The Transparent Film catalogue from 1890.
Two models were brought to market, the No. 4 Folding Kodak for 4"x5" and the No. 5 Folding Kodak for 5"x7" images. This original model, sold in 1890 and 1891 featured Kodak's Sector Shutter with Bausch & Lomb lens. These cameras were meant to utilize roll film via Walker's Film Holder. Below is the first or 1890 version of the No. 5 Folding Kodak.
1890 Version No. 5 Folding Kodak
1890 Version. http://www.earlyphotography.co.uk/
1890 Version. http://www.earlyphotography.co.uk/
Although dated Jan. 1892, this manual shows the 1890 model of the No 5 Folding Kodak.
Click on it to see the entire instruction manual.
CLICK TO SEE THE MANUAL
In 1892, both the No. 4 and No 5. Folding Kodaks were updated to now feature a Barker Shutter. Other changes included an improved "key" rather than a dial to turn the film holder and a peep sight (window to see the film counter). It appears the earliest 1892 models only utilized the roll film holder but soon thereafter, models began to be produced with the rear of the camera featuring a drop down door that allowed for focusing on the ground glass. This allowed the camera to utilize glass plates via plate holders or the roll film holder. This was all carefully explained in Kodak's 1892 Catalogue.
Note the last comment - these shutters can be fitted to the original model No. 4 & 5 Folding Kodaks. So, its possible to own an original model with an upgraded Barker Shutter.
1892 Version No. 5 Folding Kodak
1892 Version No. 5 Folding Kodak showing door for focusing so Plates or the Roll Film Holder could be used
1892 Version No. 5 Folding Kodak for Plates or Roll Film Holder. Image courtesy Larry Pierce
Interestingly, the 1893 Kodak Catalogue now shows the No. 4 and No. 5 Folding Kodaks with the following improvements:
A new shutter: the Bausch & Lomb Diaphragm shutter, a reversible finder now up on the lensboard, a "new arrangement" for adjusting focus when using the ground glass, the front of the camera bed had both horizontal and vertical movements, a double swing back, a folding (sliding) front board to use wide angle and/or stereo lenses, and an automatic film counter. Gone is the winding key and window to view the film counter. At this time, the No. 6 Folding Kodak, for whole plate images (6.5x8.5"), was also brought to market.
1893 Version - Image courtesy of KodakCollector.com
See a video of this version below.
The 1894 Kodak Catalogue now shows yet another version of the No. 5 Folding Kodak. Although quite similiar to the 1893 version, there is now a focusing knob.
And of course, in the 1895 Catalogue, the camera again is slightly different with a longer tab to pull the front standard of the camera and a different (flush) lensboard.
1895 Version - Image courtesy of KodakCollector.com
1895 Version - Image courtesy of http://www.woodandbrass.co.uk/
1895 Stereo Version - Image courtesy of http://www.ignomini.com/
The 1896 Catalogue uses the same image as the 1895 catalogue so we can assume there were no more changes that year. However, in 1897 (the final year for the Folding Kodaks), the models changed dramatically and were now called the "Improved Folding Kodaks" which Kodak described as "making them smaller and lighter than former models, though sacrificing no valuable features."
1897 Verison - Image courtesy of KodakCollector.com
Although each version is well defined, I owned this example of a No. 5 Folding Kodak which didn't quite match any of the versions listed above...
So what version is this example ?
After the huge success of the original Kodak Camera in 1888, Eastman and his team were continually updating their cameras at a rapid pace in the 1890s. Examining the features of my camera, it matches the 1892 Version except for the Bausch & Lomb Iris diaphragm shutter. And given it is nothing like the 1893 Version with its larger sliding lensboard and new viewfinder, this example was likely sold in late 1892 with an updated lens/shutter. The shutter does appear to be original to the camera and not just a later replacement. I guess we could call it the late 1892 Version or Version 1892-b.
Clearly, collecting each version of the No. 5 Folding Kodak would make for a very interesting and rare collection.