Cameras, Photography

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1

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Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1The more old cameras I buy, the more challenging it becomes to store and display them in my little house. Cameras line the mantle of my fireplace, fill a bookcase in my office, and occupy every unclaimed knick-knack-sized spot in my living room. The cameras I don’t have room to display I keep in the bathroom closet, of all places. And at the moment, my desk is cluttered with six cameras I bought recently but haven’t used yet.

So I’m ever looking for creative ways to cram in more cameras. I’ve been trolling eBay for reasonably priced vintage tripods, figuring I could could screw old cameras onto them and stand them in underused corners. I had been envisioning wooden tripods, but the first one I found at a nice price was this metal tripod in fine condition. Meet the Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1.

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1

Collapsed, it measures 15½ inches long. Each leg contains three successively narrower sections and you can extend as many of them as you like. Fully extended, the legs are 48½ inches long. Of course, you have to spread the legs enough for the tripod to stand, so effective height is shorter by a few inches. I screwed my Kodak Junior Six-16 Series II to the tripod for this shot.

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1

The tripod’s head is stamped with the dates of three patents, so I fired up Google Patent Search. It found two of the patents, one that appears to cover the head mechanism and one that describes the mechanism for extending, locking, and releasing the legs. Check out this page from the latter patent.

Here are some of the same details from my tripod.

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1 Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1 Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1

Opening this tripod is simple – you unhook the leather strap that binds the legs together, and then just pull out the legs until the locking tabs snap into place. You can extend as many or as few of the four leg segments as you want. The legs are made of brass, with the first leg section painted black and the remaining sections plated in nickel. To close the tripod, on each leg you press in the top locking tab and push from the leg’s foot. The other locking tabs give way and the legs collapse in a jiffy. A metal guide is attached to one leg, and you lay other two legs’ feet into the guide’s slots. Then you wrap the leather strap around the legs and hook it closed.

Kodak sold this tripod for at least 26 years. Thanks to Google Books I easily found advertisements for this tripod (and its brothers, the No. 0 and the No. 2) from as early as 1911 (left, below) and as late as 1937 (right). Given that my Junior Six-16 Series II was made sometime from 1934 to 1936, it is contemporary to this tripod and makes a perfect display pair. My Kodak Six-20, which dates to 1932-1937, would also be a good match for this tripod.

I was fortunate that my tripod came with its original box.

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1


Do you like old cameras? Then check out my entire collection!

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7 thoughts on “Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1

    • Irene, the mini tripod (second link) looks really neat, and $6 is a nice price. I wish I had more time for garage sales! That’s how I built my first camera collection, starting when I was a teenager and had lots of time on my hands. The other thing I wish I had more time for was scouring Goodwill, the Salvation Army store, and other thrift stores.

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  1. Great find. I don’t recall seeing such a nice Kodak tripod before, and yours appears to be in perfect condition. I think a lot of people interested in old cameras miss out on the quality they can deliver when a tripod is not used regularly. Even the simplest old box cameras can produce great images if you can manage to hold them steady.

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    • Mike, I do feel lucky to have found this tripod in such nice shape. I saw a few others as I searched, but this one was by far in the nicest shape. It is a little scuffed here and there, and one of the two grommets on the leather strap is missing, but for being at least 75 years old I think that’s fine!

      Another thing a tripod can do is hold the camera level. When I shot with my Kodak Six-20 most of my shots came out a little cockeyed. The viewfinder’s image is so tiny it’s hard to be sure you’ve leveled the shot. Thank goodness for software that can correct that. But when I get around to shooting with my Monitor, I’ll definitely support it with a tripod.

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    • You know, I forget exactly. I even bought another one six months ago and forget what I paid for it, too. But I’m a bit of a skinflint, so I’d be very, very surprised if I paid more than $30 foe each of them.

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