Here’s an amazing find: the George Eastman Museum has announced that it has acquired two unopened boxes of 1880s Kodak film.
One is the only known box of Kodak Film introduced in 1888 for the Kodak camera (which cost $25 in 1888). The other is one of only 3 known boxes of Kodak Transparent Film, which debuted in 1889 for the same Kodak camera.
“These unopened boxes of film complete the Eastman Museum’s holdings related to the original Kodak camera—adding to its examples of the camera, case, shipping box, and sample images,” the museum says.
These extremely rare unexposed rolls of film are now among the most significant objects found at the museum in Rochester, New York, which has one of the world’s top collections of historical photographic technology.
The 1888 Kodak camera could shoot a whopping 100 photos on a roll of film by exposing 2½-inch-diameter circular pictures. After finishing a roll, a photographer would send the camera and $10 to Rochester for developing, printing, and reloading. Kodak’s slogan at the time was “You press the button, we do the rest,” and the model helped make Kodak snapshots a cultural phenomenon.
Thus, these two unopened boxes of film represent a turning point in photography, when the industry began shifting from expensive, time-consuming processes enjoyed by the few to cheaper and easier snapshots that can be done by the many.
Image credits: Photographs by the George Eastman Museum