Kodak Vanity 1928

Tomei Collection


In December 1924, Ansco in a boldly innovative move introduced a line of brightly colored cameras called the Vanity Cameras, and Eastman didn't hesitate to soon copy not only the concept of brightly colored cameras, but also the exact same product name.  The Vanity Kodaks were offered from April 1928 to late 1933 and were color versions of the Vest Pocket Kodak Series III model introduced in September 1926.  They were available in blue (Bluebird), green (Cockatoo), gray (Sea Gull), red (Redbreast), and brown (Jenny Wren), the color of the examples shown here.  [Jenny Wren was a Dickens character from his novel "Our Mutual Friend".]  While these models are not uncommon, finding one in the condition of the one shown is very unusual since the leather covering and especially the colored bellows are very fragile.  Inclusion of the original box is particularly uncommon.

 

A great deal has been written about the Vanity series marketed by Kodak in the late 1920's and early 30's.  Special versions of other models had been offered as early as 1913 and colored versions of folding models appeared in 1927.  Presumably due to the success of the colored models and the search for expanding markets, Kodak launched this Vanity model followed in a year or so with the very popular Petite series.

 

This Vanity Vest Pocket III is covered with a specially textured leather in vivid colors.  Advertised as "The Modern Camera for the Modern Girl", it was clear that Kodak aimed at making cameras less masculine and more stylish.  The case is covered in matching leather and lined with golden silk.  The camera accepts 127 film and had the Kodak Anastigmat f/6.3 lens.

 

 

 

 

 

This camera and the clamshell case show little wear.  The bellows are solid but exhibit the signs of use and typical fraying about the edges.  Colored bellows as these were coated with an early form of plastic which soon hardened with exposure losing flexibility.  Although this example has the original bellows, many of these cameras have had the original colored bellows replaced with more durable black ones which reduces the value substantially.