Another recent addition to my camera bag is a Kodak Vest Pocket Autographic. Dating from about 1916, this is the oldest camera in my kit; you can see a nice one at Camerapedia. It’s a “folder” with collapsing bellows, and takes 127 film–a little narrower than 120, and available through Freestyle Photo. It does in fact fold up to quite compact proportions, though you’d need a pretty ample vest to carry it comfortably.
One of its most interesting features–what sets it apart from the competition–is the “autographic” feature. When using special autographic film, one could open a little window and write directly onto the backing paper with an included stylus. My camera, amazingly enough, still has the stylus, but alas, autographic films are no longer available. I suspect it was something in the backing paper that allowed this feature to work. If you scroll waaaay down on this page, you can see the autographic feature in use (on a larger-format camera). The New Zealand Centre for Photography” used to have some great examples of pictures with “autographs”, but alas their site has been shifted around (it looks very nice, by the way) and I can’t find them anymore.
For a near-century-old camera, it doesn’t work too badly; there are some strange leaks at the end of my two test rolls, and the viewfinder doesn’t stay in by itself, but there’s nothing here that electrical tape and a cotton swab won’t fix.
One of my test subjects, of course, was the Washburn Water Tower, my longstanding obsession.