EASTMAN HOME PORTRAIT CAMERA
Eastman Kodak Company, Rochester, New York 1911-1929
One of Eastman's professional series, this camera was originally part of the Kodak Home Portrait Outfit. Consisting of a 5x7 camera, shutter, lens, special tripod, reflector, background, carrier and plate holders, all the components were configured to pack neatly into two field cases. The outfit was targeted at photographers who did work away from the studio.
Believed to have been introduced about 1911 in Kodak's Catalogue of Eastman Professional Photographic Apparatus and Material, the camera was constructed of wax-finished cherry wood, with metal parts finished in oxidized copper. Instead of random mottling, the copper splashes were aligned in their placement and direction to form an attractive striped pattern. With its fancy, eye-catching metalwork, the Home Portrait is a view camera that looks just as good from the rear as it does from the front or the sides.
By 1917, Hirsch & Kaiser of San Francisco was offering Folmer & Schwing's Home Portrait Outfit No. 2. In 1920, Eastman's Home Portrait no longer appears in their professional catalog, with Folmer & Schwing's Home Portrait Outfit No. 2 now being offered in its place. Finished in dark mahogany with nickel- plated fittings, it was now offered with a spring-actuated lens hood. The hardware has changed and the quick acting rack and pinion tilt base, a prominent feature on the earlier Eastman Home Portrait, has now been replaced with a simple angle adjustment on the tripod's head. Folmer & Schwing, by now a Department of Eastman Kodak since 1917, was continuing to offer a greater number of professional cameras. Perhaps it was a marketing experiment or a shifting of resources within the two operating areas, that prompted this change in the product line. Or, maybe Folmer & Schwing was manufacturing the Eastman Home Portrait all along. It's interesting to note, that the Eastman Home Portrait shown above, has no maker's plate, stampings or identification whatsoever.
The 1919-1920 Central Camera Company Catalogue of Cameras, Kodaks, Lenses and Photographic Accessories still offered the Home Portrait in this oxidized copper version, although the engraving appears to be the same one used in Eastman's 1920 Professional Catalog which is labeled as an "F.& S. Home Portrait No. 2".
By 1923, the Eastman Home Portrait reappears. The cherry wood construction and oxidized copper metalwork are now gone, having been replaced with dark mahogany wood and a sand blast finish to the brass. The Eastman Home Portrait Camera No.3 as it was now called, was only available in 8x10 and was no longer offered as an outfit. It made its last appearance in Kodak's Catalogue of Eastman Professional Apparatus and Materials for 1929.
Strangely, for a reasonably priced and well advertised camera whose production in this oxidized copper version spanned about eight years, very view examples are seen today.