Estimated reading time: 8 minute(s)

The Great Round World and What Is Going On In It was a nineteenth century magazine aimed at children. We featured it once before at The New Leaf Journal for its coverage of a fascinating new (in 1897) invention – a bicycle rack for paperboys. Today, we will cover the June 17, 1897 issue of The Great Round World. This issue of the magazine featured numerous promotional offers to reward subscribers who convinced other people to subscribe to the magazine. Specifically, we will focus on two promotional offers wherein diligent recruiters would receive nineteenth century Kodak cameras for their trouble. The magazine specifically offered the Pocket Kodak camera (manufactured 1895-1900) and the Kodak No. 4 Bulls-Eye camera (manufactured 1896-1904).

Before continuing, the magazine set forth rules for what constituted as a subscriber. Those who signed up for one year of issues were counted as one full subscriber. Those who signed up for half a year were counted as one-half of a subscriber. Finally, new subscribers for three months were counted as one-fourth of a subscriber.

The magazine did not note the price of a subscription. However, it did offer readers the chance to buy all of the issues from its second volume, numbers 16-30, in a cloth-bound format for $1.25. As of June 17, 2021, $1.25 in 1897 was equivalent to $40.54 in purchasing power. The price for the cloth-bound second volume was a bit less for existing subscribers (45 cents combined).

Four Subscriber Reward: A Pocket Kodak

Any person who sent four new subscribers to The Great Round World would receive a complementary Pocket Kodak camera.

A hand holding an 1895-1900 Pocket Kodak camera - pictured in "The Great Round World and What is Going On In It" from June 17, 1897
Illustration of a man holding the Pocket Kodak – clipped from the magazine

According to The Great Round World, the Pocket Kodak measured 2-1/4 by 2-7/8 by 3-7/8 inches. It weighed only five ounces. The Pocket Kodak was pocket-sized, as advertised.

This Pocket Kodak took pocket-sized photos as well. According to The Great Round World, it produced pictures 1-1/2 by 2 inches.

As for the lens, we learn that the Pocket Kodan had a fixed focus lens. Its focus was 2-1/2 inches. The Great Round World ensured recruiting readers that this was “of sufficient length of focus to avoid distortion.”

Having assured us of the quality of the Pocket Kodak’s lens, the magazine editors touted its features and ease of use:

[The Pocket Kodak has] improved rotary shutter and set of three stops for the lens. The slides for changing stops and for time exposures are alongside of the exposure lever and always show by their position what stop is before the lens and whether the shutter is set for time or instantaneous exposures, thus acting as a warning.

The Great Round World magazine promised that Pocket Kodaks would be “delivered ready for 12 exposures without reloading.”

The Great Round World opined that the Pocket Kodak was “equal to the best cameras on the market” at the time: “They make negatives of such perfect quality that enlargements of any size can be made from them.”

Although the Pocket Kodak was amenable to being carried in a pocket, it was more than aesthetic enough to be carried in one’s hand. “The Pocket Kodaks are covered with fine leather, and the trimmings are handsomely finished and lacquered. They are elegant, artistic, and durable.”

(The durability could come in handy for taking it out of the pocket.)

Bonus Offer: Five Subscriber-Recruiters Also Receive a Pocket Kodak Bicycle Carrying-Case

Directing four new subscribers to The Great Round World was enough to earn a Pocket Kodak camera. But what about those who did 20% better – who found a fifth subscriber? Those hard-workers would receive a complementary Pocket Kodak bicycle carrying case. Sadly, the magazine did not describe the carrying case – but once you have already found four subscribers, why not recruit one more for an extra bonus gift?

Additional Information About the Pocket Kodak

I am not a camera historian, but I came across what I think is the same Pocket Kodak camera on the Camera Wiki. According to this article, the Pocket Kodak was made from 1895 to 1900 – fitting the magazine’s time frame. It used the No. 102 roll film which was made especially for the camera. The Great Round World’s promise that the Pocket Kodak came ready to use was true of all Pocket Kodaks. The Camera Wiki states that “[t]he camera came from the factory with one 12 exposure roll loaded, but not threaded or ready to use.”

There were different models of the Pocket Kodak. We can combine the Camera Wiki article with The Great Round World’s Pocket Kodak description to narrow down which model was being offered in the promotion.

The Camera Wiki wrote:

The Tisdell sector shutter has a single lever for cocking and firing the shutter, later changed to a rotary shutter.

The Great Round World noted that the model it was offering as part of its promotion had a rotary shutter. Therefore, we know that it was one of the “later” of the four Pocket Kodak Models.

The Pocket Kodak retailed for $5 when it was released. $5 in 1897 was equivalent to $162.17 in purchasing power on June 16, 2021.

Nine Subscriber Reward: An Improved Kodak No. 4 Bulls-Eye

A Pocket Kodak is a nice gift for recruiting four or five Great Round World magazine subscribers. More ambitious recruiters – those who found at least nine subscribers – would be eligible to receive an improved No. 4 Bulls-Eye. The No. 4 Bulls-Eye was, like the Pocket Kodak, manufactured by the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, New York.

The No. 4 Bulls-Eye camera measured 4-7/8 by 5-7/8 by 9-1/4 inches, making it substantially bigger than the Pocket Kodak. It weighed two pounds and two ounces.

A Kodak No. 4 Bulls-Eye Camera - most likely the 1896-1904 version - pictured in the June 17, 1897 issue of "The Great Round World and What Is Going On In It"
Illustration of the Kodak No. 4 Bulls-Eye camera – clipped from the magazine

While the No. 4 Bulls-Eye was less carrier-friendly than the Pocket Kodak, it made up for its comparative lack of portability with its more powerful capabilities. The No. 4 Bulls-Eye boasted a 6-1/4 inch length of focus. It produced images of 4 by 5 inches – quite a bit larger than the Pocket Kodak.

The Great Round World went on to describe the Pocket Kodak’s lens:

Fitted with an achromatic lens of superior quality, having a set of three stops; has two finders, one for vertical and one for horizontal exposures; and is also provided with two sockets for tripod screws, one for vertical and one for horizontal exposures. Fitted with an improved rotary shutter, for snap-shots or time exposures.

Similarly to the Pocket Kodak, the Kodak No. 4 Bulls-Eye was delivered ready for 12 exposures without reloading. The Great Round World stated that it could be loaded in daylight.

While the Kodak No. 4 Bulls-Eye was significantly bigger than the Pocket Kodak, it was no less aesthetic. The magazine described it as “[h]andsomely finished and covered with leather.” I note the handle on top of the camera in the image – a useful feature.

More Information on the Kodak No. 4 Bulls-Eye

I had some slight difficulty narrowing down the Kodak No. 4 Bulls-Eye. There appear to have been two models. The Kodak No. 4 Bulls-Eye camera was produced from 1896-1904. The Bulls-Eye special was produced from 1898-1904.

In light of the fact that the magazine promotion was being offered in 1897, I assumed that the correct model was the one being produced in 1897. Upon further inspection, however, there are some signs that The Great Round World was referring to the No. 4 Bulls-Eye Special, which would have then been yet-to-be-released.

There are two points in the Special’s favor. Firstly, according to the images I can find, the No. 4 Bulls-Eye Special had a handle on topwhile the No. 4 Bulls-Eye did not have a handle. Secondly, The Great Round World touted the No. 4 Bulls-Eye as being improved. Improved from what? Perhaps they were noting that this offer was for the new No. 4 Bulls-Eye which would be ready to ship in half-a-year.

However, upon comparing the contemporary descriptions of the cameras, I concluded that the magazine was offering the older No. 4 Bulls-Eye. According to Historic Camera (linked above), the older model No. 4 Bulls-Eye had an achromatic lens and an Eastman rotary shutter. Both of those points match The Great Round World description. The newer model is described as having a rectilinear lens and an Eastman triple action shutter.

The mystery has been solved. The Great Round World offered the Kodak No. 4 Bulls-Eye, not the “Special.” The No. 4 Bulls-Eye was made of wood and covered with morocco leather.

There is one interesting note. Historic Camera lists both versions of the Kodak No. 4 Bulls-Eye as being 5 by 5-7/8 by 8-1/4 inches. The Great Round World listed the No. 4 Bulls-Eye as being 4-7/8 by 5-7/8 by 9-1/4 inches. I am not sure what accounts for the difference. Either the magazine made a typographical error or there were different models of the first No. 4 Bulls-Eye that I did not come across in my brief research. (If anyone has an answer – please enlighten me in the Guestbook.)

It was priced at $12 when it was released. $12 in 1897 was equivalent to $389.20 on June 16, 2021.

(That is quite a complementary gift…)

100 Subscriber Reward: A Bicycle

Promotional text "Which Is Your Favorite Bicycle" from the June 17, 1897 issue of "The Great Round World and What Is Going On In It" - which was offering a bike voucher for any person who recruited 100 subscribers
Clipped from the magazine’s promotional section

We covered the four, five, and nine subscriber rewards. Those who skipped a few levels and found 100 subscribers for The Great Round World would have a special reward waiting – a bicycle voucher. The magazine explained:

Show the paper to your friends, and you will soon find one hundred people who will be glad to subscribe. Send the subscriptions in to us as fast as received, and when the one hundredth reaches us you can go to ANY dealer YOU choose, buy ANY wheel YOU choose, and we will pay the bill.

One may note that there is quite a bit of room between the Kodak No. 4 Bulls-Eye camera reward (9 subscribers) and the bicycle voucher (100 subscribers). For those who fell somewhere in between, The Great Round World offered a “premium catalogue” with select rewards for different referral levels.

Question: If someone recruited 100 subscribers, did he or she receive a Pocket Kodak and bicycle carrying case to go with the new bicycle? It seems only right for all the trouble.

Pokémon Bike Voucher Associations

The original Pokémon games allowed the player to obtain a bicycle. However, the bicycle ordinarily cost 1,000,000 Poké-dollars. Not only was it not possible to have 1,000,000 Poké-dollars early in the game when the player encountered the bicycle shop, the game capped the maximum amount of money that the player could have at 999,999 Poké-dollars.

Why were bicycles in Pokémon Red and Blue so expensive? Was it some sort of tease? Not at all – the price was high so as to require the player to obtain a bike voucher – which he or she could do shortly after first encountering the bicycle shop.

I thought of this Pokémon story because it involves a bike voucher and because convincing 100 people to subscribe to a magazine in 1897 sounds about as likely to me as accruing 1,000,000 Poké-dollars in Pokémon Red and Blue. Yet here, that feat was required to obtain the bike voucher. In Pokémon, the player just had to talk to a non-player character.

Tough task.

Aside – was a bike really more than 11-times as expensive as a Kodak No. 4 Bulls-Eye? I have my doubts. If not, I reiterate my hope that anyone who made it to 100 referrals at least received a complementary Pocket Kodak and case to go with the bike voucher.