History and development of the VPK.
Seeing the success of its first 'collapsible camera' the large and expensive Folding Pocket Kodak, Eastman Kodak set about a cheaper and smaller replacement. Whereas the Folding Pocket Kodak was made largely of wood, the Vest Pocket Kodak (VPK) was made mostly of aluminium. Smaller, lighter and stronger, the VPK began life in 1912.
The first VPK's had a simple meniscus lens situated behind a Kodak ball-bearing shutter, this being a big improvement on the single-speed 'flip-flop' shutter of its predecessor. With black paint-work and brass lens escutcheon plate, the camera sold for $6.00 and was an immediate success.
The provided shutter speeds of 25th and 50th second were easily sufficient. Early Kodak 127 roll film was so slow that exposure times of 2+ seconds were needed in anything less than bright sunlight.
Aperture numbers of 1 to 4 were provided instead of f-stops as
follows 1 = near view/portrait, 2 = average view, 3 = distant view and 4 = clouds/marine. Meniscus lenses at full aperture suffered from flare so a restricting 'choke' was placed in front of the shutter which allowed only the central part of the lens to be used.
Multi-element lenses (Anistigmats).
VPK Special cameras fitted with multi-element lenses had conventional f-stops as well as the same visual guidance scales as meniscus-lensed VPK cameras. Because of the better quality of multi-element lenses, maximum lens opening could be used.