Only known box of Kodak Film from 1888 has 'gone home'

PHOTO: George Eastman Museum

The "grandfather" of consumer photography film has gone home, close to where it was first made.

The George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York, announced on Monday (July 11) that it had recently purchased the only known box of Kodak Film made in 1888 by the Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company, to add to its technology collection.

Also bought was one of only three known boxes of Kodak Transparent Film, made in 1889.

The museum said the two boxes complete its collection related to the original Kodak Camera - comprising also of a camera, a case, a shipping box and sample images.

The boxes of film now sit in a display case in the museum.

The original Kodak Camera was introduced in 1888, selling for US$25 then (a lot of money back then). It came loaded with film that can take 100 circular pictures about two-and-a-half inch wide (about 6cm).

After the pictures were taken, the camera was returned to the company in Rochester, where, for US$10, the film was developed, prints mades, and a new roll of film inserted. The camera was then sent back to the owner, the museum said.

That is the start of what we know as consumer photography today.

Because of the business model, film was hardly sold separately to consumers, so the roll of film that now sits in the museum is that more precious.

The two boxes are unopened, so the museum doesn't have images of the film itself. "But it can be heard rattling around in there!" a spokesman told The Atlantic.

"The debut of Eastman's American Film (another name for Kodak Film) and Transparent Film in the late 1880s was the beginning of snapshot photography, and a turning point for the company and the city of Rochester," said Mr Todd Gustavson, the museum's technology curator. "We have always kept an eye out for film manufactured in the late 1880s to complete our collection of objects related to the first-generation Kodak camera. We jumped at the chance to bring these two boxes home to Rochester."

sinsh@sph.com.sg

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