c a m e r a a g e
Determining the Manufacturing Dates of Kodak Cameras
Apart from the manufacturing dates listed on my site and many others, most of which have been gleaned from various published sources, especially Kodak's on-line
Customer Service Pamphlet AA-13,
Brian Coe's book, "Kodak Cameras, The First 100 Years", John T. Addison's publication, "A Catalogue of Hawk-Eye Cameras" and Joan C. McKeown's "Catalog of Premo Cameras", a more accurate date can be ascertained for many Kodak cameras from a date code that is often incorporated either in the data surrounding the lens or stamped on or inside the camera. This is based on the keyword CAMEROSITY thus :
where the letters stamped or printed on the camera are transposed with the figures in the lower row to give the date. Thus, on my Kodak 35, rangefinder model the lens serial number is EO26901, the "EO" translating as "46", giving the year of manufacture as 1946. Many cameras have a four-character code, such as the Brownie "Star...." cameras which have it stamped on the film holder. For example, one of my black Brownie Starflash cameras has the code "YIOA", translating as "08-62", whilst another has the code "YORI", 06-58. Obviously this date only refers to the date of manufacture of the part on which it is stamped and should be treated with due caution if it is possible the part may have been replaced at some time. Just to confuse matters slightly, some date codes refer to a month "13", as in my Tele-EktraLite 600 which is coded "CMIC". Recent research has confirmed that Kodak used a 13-month "lunar" year for these codes, so it may not be possible to define exactly which month a camera was manufactured, just which four-week period. Many Brazilian Instamatics have what appears to be a "camerosity" code, though on some examples it doesn't quite conform to the pattern.
This feature would appear to have been introduced in the 1940's and seems to apply mostly to US and Canadian manufactured cameras earlier than the mid-60's. Neither my UK-manufactured Brownie Twin-20 or my French Brownie Starflash have similar markings, though many of my European Instamatic cameras, both 126 and 110, from the mid-60's and later, are date coded. Many Kodak 126-cartridge cameras have a date-code, usually inside the film compartment under the film gate. Many Kodak 110-cartridge cameras have a date-code, usually inside the film compartment, though on some it is inside the film door near the hinge, or under the winder. Most, if not all, Disc cameras have a date-code, usually on the inside of the film door, near the hinge. It has been noted, by myself and others, that most Kodak cameras with serial numbers, usually the more sophisticated models, almost invariably do not have a camerosity code, though some UK-made Instamatics are an exception to this rule, whereas others have a totally different letter/number code, as do many UK-made Brownies.
It should be noted that patent dates that appear on cameras almost invariably refer to a feature on the camera, not the camera itself. A feature that was patented in 1926, for example, may not have been used for some time before introduction, that is to say, may have first been used, perhaps, on a camera first produced in 1929 ... or may have been introduced on a model previous to the camera in question. All a patent date can show is that a camera is no older than that date, but may well be many years younger. One may be able to deduce, from the patent dates on a camera, at least a reduced range of manufacture, in that if the model in question was made, say, 1918-29, and the latest patent date on the camera is 1926, that particular example must have been produced some time between 1926 and 1929.
Many Kodak cameras, especially the more advanced folding models, were available with a range of lenses and shutters, some option combinations only being available for a limited time. Given full details, it may be possible to ascertain a more accurate production date from this information, as published in Brian Coe's book. Bear in mind, that if a feature could be fitted in the factory it is quite possible that it could be fitted subsequent to manufacture, either as an upgrade or as a repair, so "non-standard" combinations may well exist.
Hopefully this page will help a few people without having to wait for my answer to their eMail, though any queries or comments are always welcome.