Kodak 3A Folding Pocket camera with special lens and shutter option. More details on my Kodak page.
From the autobiography of photographer Arnold Genthe, who made the most famous photographs of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire...."I found that my hand cameras had been so damaged by the falling plaster as to be rendered useless. I went to Montgomery Street to the shop of George Kahn, my dealer, and asked him to lend me a camera. "Take anything you want. This place is going to burn up anyway." I selected the best small camera, a 3A Kodak Special. I stuffed my pockets with films and started out."
The 3A used 122 roll film that produced postcard size negatives 3.25x5.5 in. (Genthe's Negatives)
This is my 1909 Kodak 3A Folding Pocket Model B-4 camera with special option Bausch & Lomb Zeiss Tessar series IIb lens and Compound shutter. This camera is most likely the same type that Genthe used for his earthquake photos. I have researched the early Kodak catalogs and the B&L Zeiss Tessar lens was a special option in 1906 with Volute shutter (the Compound shutter was introduced in 1909). The 3A camera was produced from 1903-1915. In 1910 Kodak introduced the name "3A Special" with the Zeiss lens and Compound shutter but before that time it was a 3A with "special" options. My particular camera has labels from the Earl V. Lewis camera shop in Los Angeles on the top and inside the film compartment. Earl V. Lewis was a well known enlarger and printer in the early 20th century. The shop was in business from 1906-1986.
On the left Chinatown, San Francisco, Ca. c.1900 by photographer Arnold Genthe, looking towards 751-753 Clay St. from Brenham Place (now called Walter U Lum Place).and on the right the same view in 2012. Chinatown was devastated by the great earthquake and fire in 1906 and rebuilt. Note the platform shoes worn by these young girls to mimic the gait of women with bound feet.
Photographer Arnold Genthe shown at left holding camera in Chinatown, San Francisco, Ca. c.1900. Genthe documented old Chinatown before it's destruction in the 1906 quake and fire. He used a handheld "detective" plate camera to record candid images of his subjects without their knowledge
Chinatown, San Francisco, Ca., corner of Jackson St. and Dupont Ave (now Grant Ave), c.1900 (left) by photographer Arnold Genthe and the same corner (right) in 2012. Chinatown was devastated by the great earthquake and fire of 1906 and rebuilt.
2619 Octavia St., San Francisco, Ca. This was the home of Dr. Millicent Cosgrave in 1906. Located in the Cow Hollow neighborhood, the house survived the great earthquake and fire.
The famous photographer Arnold Genthe lost his apartment and studio on Sutter street when it was dynamited by fire crews as the fire spread across the City.
From the autobiography of photographer Arnold Genthe in the aftermath of the '06 quake and fire.....
"In the Frank Cowderys' home on Maple Street and later on in the Octavia Street home of Dr. Millicent Cosgrave (whose friendship throughout these years has meant so much to me) I had found a haven of rest. For several weeks I did not concern myself with any thought of the future. I blithely continued to take photographs."
"Looking Down Sacramento St., San Francisco, April 18, 1906". The most famous of all the earthquake photographs taken by the great photographer Arnold Genthe. It is considered to be one of the greatest historical photographs ever taken. Genthe lost his equipment in the quake and borrowed a Kodak 3A Special from his camera dealer George Kahn's shop on Montgomery St. He loaded his pockets with film and walked around the City taking photographs. The shot was taken on Sacramento St. between Powell and Stockton St. (at Miles Place) on the morning of the quake at 9 a.m. as the fire began raging. Note cable car slot in street at that time. The alley Miles Place is now called Miller Place. I took my shot at 8:23 a.m. on a foggy, holiday morning.
Photographer Arnold Genthe, who was famous for his photos of the San Francisco 1906 earthquake, wrote about his stay at the Hotel Rafael in his autobiography. He came to San Francisco in 1895 from Germany at the request of Baron Heinrich von Schroeder who was the proprietor of the Hotel Rafael. After some research I found out that: "The Hotel Rafael opened in 1888 and was the first luxury hotel in Marin County. It cost approximately $200,000 to build and occupied 21 acres in San Rafael, California. The hotel had 100 rooms, multiple dining rooms, an observation tower, plus gardens, tennis courts and stables. The warm climate of San Rafael attracted many San Francisco vacationers across the foggy San Francisco Bay. A fire started on the top floor and burned the hotel to the ground on July 29, 1928, despite the local fire department's best efforts. In 1939, the land was sold at auction and subdivided into smaller lots on which private homes were built. Part of the original gates are still visible at Belle Avenue and Rafael Drive in San Rafael, California." .....so I went to the intersection and found the gates buried in the foliage and shrubs. Here are some shots of the gates today along with postcards from 1900 and 1905.
The mansion of railroad baron A.E.Towne stood on Nob Hill in San Francisco from the late 1800's until it was destroyed by the earthquake and fire of 1906. The only thing left standing was it's white marble portico and brick facade. The portico still stands today in Golden Gate Park as a symbol of the perserverence of San Francisco.
© Joseph Greco