Standard Folding Typewriter Co. (1909 - 1914)
Corona Typewriter Co., Inc. (1914 - 1925)
L.C. Smith & Corona ( 1925 - 1941)
Groton, New York US
There were hundreds upon hundreds of various typewriter makers producing countless numbers of models which easily ranked in the thousands. Yet, with all that metal being cast, very few designs were actually successful and even fewer reached icon status. Such masterpieces included Thomas Oliver's Iron Butterfly, Wagner's Standard, Sottsass' Valentine and, this, Otto Petermann's Corona No.3 Folding Typewriter.
It should be noted that the storied history of the Corona No.3 really begins in 1903 with Frank Rose, the Rose Typewriter Company and the Standard Folding No.1 typewriter that it produced (patent no.754,242). Standard Folding typewriters were the all-aluminum predecessors of the Corona No.3. Frank's small company was producing a fantastic product with boundless potential and that hadn't gone unnoticed.
Soon folding typewriters like the Bijou, Fox, Hammond Multiplex and several others entered the market which were more-likely-than-not designed with Petermann's and Rose's typewriter serving as a blueprint.. Even the Gourland, with its flip-up carriage, seems to have been vying for some of Corona's market share.
In 1909, Frank's startup had a great business model that caught the eye of a well connected investor named Benn Conger (1856 - 1922). Conger would eventually buy the company and, almost immediately, relocate production to Groton, NY.
The marketing and sales teams were now tasked with the job of selling this truly portable design. And sell it they did. First, they changed the name of the machine from Standard Folding to Corona because the original name didn't translate well in some foreign markets. It should be noted that other name variants were also produced, such as the Coronet, Franconia and Piccola, primarily for foreign markets. Sales of the No.3 soared immediately from 6,000 units in 1912 to over 150,000 annually by 1920. Among the many options, Coronas were offered in several colors, in a multitude of languages and with a variety of cases. About 675,000 of these little dynamos were manufactured in total from 1912 to 1941 with little improvement over the original design.
During the first few years in Groton, a 2nd model of the aluminum Standard Folding was produced, the No.2. Then, a loyal employee that made the move to Groton during the 1909 transition, Otto Petermann (1872 - 1961), was named lead designer for the coming model, the No.3. Petermann got to work applying for several patents in 1909 and 1910, improving on Rose's original design. The resulting prototype (see it here) was inspired and ambitious but management felt it was too costly to produce. A scaled-back version was produced instead. The final product, with its curvier black frame, was nothing short of genius. In 1912 the Corona No.3 was ready for retail.
At the time, Conger was a politician facing a disapproving constituency after the Groton Carriage Company vacated its factory because of the ever expanding automobile industry and subsequent diminishing demand for horse-drawn carriages. By moving the typewriter business that Conger had purchased to Groton, the savvy state senator provided jobs for his voters. There was the short-term construction work while the new factory was being erected and then the subsequent long-term jobs from the actual production of the typewriters. And when the factory was completed, that's when the business truly went gangbusters.
Questions? Comments? Have an interesting artifact for sale? Email me at Antikey.Chop@gmail.com or call +1 (860) 729-2252
The Groton factory closed in 1983 and was torn down just one year later.
Click here to see an experimental faux woodgrain Corona No.3.
Need an Instruction Manual for you Corona? I have them available here...