Milburn Korona Company  (previously Milburn Camera Company) Rochester, New York               1894-1896



Among the first in a long line of cameras bearing the Korona name, the Korona Camera's design belonged to Gustave D. Milburn under two patents.   Patent No. 530,955 filed on July 7, 1894 and granted December 18, 1894, covered the camera's fine focusing feature and a knee-action strut designed to support the bellows. This support design appears to never have been incorporated into production models.  Patent No. 558,089 granted April 14, 1896, covered the design of the plate holder storage rack, cross-bar limiting the travel of the lens standard, bed struts and the split-bed feature.

Exuding quality in its construction and beautifully finished, the camera has also been referred to by collectors as the "Korona Hand Camera" and the "Milburn Korona Camera". 


Milburn's first patent was noted in The Photographic Times, Volume XXVI for February,1895.  The American Amateur Photographer, Volume V, January to December,1893, noted that the Corona Camera Company had given up business and had been merged with a new company called the Photo-Materials Company of Rochester. Though spelled differently, this association with the older Corona Camera Company may have played a part in the creation of the new Korona name.

Gustave Milburn was one of the founders of the Photo-Materials Company.  Per The Photographic Times, Volume 22 for 1892, prior to that, he was associated with H.M. Reichenbach and S.C. Passavant in the Corona Camera Company, and all three were formerly employed by Eastman Kodak. Per the American Amateur Photographer Volume IV for July 1892, Milburn perfected a cut sheet film and film holder, and together with Reichenbach and Passavant formed the Corona Camera Company to manufacture and market this development.

The Korona Camera was introduced in 1894, an advertisement in Harper's Weekly, July 7, 1894, Volume 38 noting "product of 1894 Korona Cameras, Size A for Bicyclists", reflecting the Milburn Korona Company name, that roll holders could be attached to Korona cameras and that catalogues were available to photo dealers on application. Reference was also made in The American Amateur Photographer Volume VI, No. 10 for October, 1894, stating that the Korona Hand Camera was being made by the Milburn Korona Company, Rochester, New York.


The No. B and C Korona Camera's lens standards featured a box section to which the shutter was attached.  This section, marked with an ivoroid scale, moved in and out via rack-and-pinion to provide fine focusing:


         No. C Korona shown above for illustration, with lens board extended


The camera's rear door is hinged, and can be flipped upward to reveal the ground glass or to access two plate holders that were stored on metal racks attached to the door's interior:



According to Milburn's 1894 "Koronas" catalogue, three models of the Korona Camera were offered:


The No. A Korona, available in 4x5 only, was a cycle-style camera about 3 inches thick, with a solid bed and a carry case to hold the camera and six double-plate holders.  An example of the No. A Korona can be found under the "Antique Cameras" section of this website.

The No. B Korona, larger in size with a single swing and available in 4x5 only, added the plate storage feature, a stop bar and a split-bed similar to those found on the early Folding Kodak (Satchel  series). This permitted greater range when using wide-angle objectives.

The top of the line No. C Korona, available in 4x5 and 5x7, added double swing capabilities. Examples of the No. C Korona can be found under the "Antique Cameras" section of this website.


The earliest examples of the Korona Camera were fitted with Gundlach's Shutter and Iris Diaphragm, having an aluminum faceplate:




The plate on the shutter reads "Made for Milburn Korona Co., by Gundlach Opt. Co., Rochester, N.Y.":



This aluminum-faced shutter was not unique to the Korona Camera series, examples having been found on some Eastman Kodet models and the Sunart Cycle, all from the same period:


                 Gundlach's Shutter and Iris Diaphragm badged "Sunart Cycle"



            Gundlach's Shutter and Iris Diaphragm badged "Eastman Kodak Co."


Eastman No. 4 Kodet with aluminum-faced Gundlach's Shutter and Iris Diaphragm

         No. A Korona with aluminum-faced Gundlach's Shutter and Iris Diaphragm


The No. B Korona 4x5 example featured here, is equipped with Gundlach's Shutter and Iris Diaphragm with an aluminum faceplate. This camera has all the characteristics of the 5X7 version, with the exception of having only one bed strut, and a solid bed. This is in contrast to the No. C Korona 4x5 profiled elsewhere on this website, having two struts and a hinged bed. The Koronas factory catalogue engraving appears to show only one strut for the No. B Korona, but shows a hinged bed.  This camera has an ivoroid tag stating "Sold by W.P. Buchanan, Philadelphia, Thom. Jay Gleason, N.Y". Buchanan was a well known photographic supply house of the era:



Other than Milburn's patents, a few advertisements and one 1894 factory catalogue, not much else has been found.  Examples of the Korona Camera have been seen over the years, but not many. This is no doubt the result of a low production run, from a company that appears to have gone bankrupt about two years into operation.

Gundlach Optical Company acquired the Milburn Korona Company in 1896, continuing to manufacture cameras bearing the Korona name through at least 1925.

It's not known what Gustave Milburn did after Gundlach's acquisition, but he passed away at the age of 52, on November 27, 1920 in Rochester, New York.




   From Milburn's 1894 Koronas catalogue       (courtesy of Pacific Rim Camera)


                                    Source:  Google Patents


                               Source:  Google Patents