THE NO. C KORONA
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 No. C 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 5x7 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 rear 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 on the back door, 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. An example of the No. B Korona can be found under the "Antique Cameras" section of this website.
The top-of-the-line No. C Korona, available in 4x5 and 5x7, added double swing capabilities.
The earliest examples of the Korona Camera were fitted with Gundlach's Shutter and Iris Diaphragm, having an aluminum faceplate:
Gundlach's Shutter and Iris Diaphragm shown on a No. B Korona Camera above, for illustration
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. C Korona 5x7 example featured here is fitted with the second model of Gundlach's Shutter and Iris Diaphragm having a brass faceplate and no Milburn Korona Company badging:
Other than Milburn's patents, a few advertisements and one 1894 factory catalogue, not much else has been found. Examples in both 4x5 and 5x7 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.
N0. C Korona 4X5
This 4x5 example is equipped with the second model of Gundlach's Shutter and Iris Diaphragm, having the typical brass faceplate. This camera has all the characteristics of the 5X7 version, including two bed struts, a split-bed and double-swing capabilities. This camera has no ivoroid manufacturer or dealer tag.
No. C Korona 5x7
Another 5x7 example equipped with Bausch & Lomb's Iris Diaphragm Shutter. From what's known, this shutter was not original equipment as Milburn appears to have used Gundlach's shutters exclusively. This camera is also tagged "Milburn Korona Company, Rochester, N.Y.":
From Milburn's 1894 Koronas catalogue (courtesy of Pacific Rim Camera)
Source: Google Patents
Source: Google Patents