Grahame N's Web Pages
CAMERAS & PROJECTORS
from Grahame L. Newnham
The Coronet Camera Company was founded by Frederick W. Pettifer around 1926 and initially based at a converted private house at 48 Great Hampton Street, Aston, Birmingham, UK. By 1932 they had relocated to premises at 308-310 Summer Lane, Aston, Birmingham, UK. Coronet specialised in low price simple still picture cameras, mostly made of plastic, moulded by a local Birmingham firm of Edwin Elliott, with lenses made by the British Optical Lens Co. another local business. In 1932 they launched a very low price simple 9.5mm cine projector and cine camera. By 1937 both the cine camera and projector had been upgraded to model B cine camera and Mk 11 projector. A final model C cine camera was launched in 1938. Sadly their factory was bombed during the secomd world war and although still camera production resumed, no more cine equipment was produced..
Coronet Mk 1 Cine Projector
Mk 1 Coronet 9.5mm cine projector
1935 Sales leaflet
The Mk 1 Coronet 9.5mm cine projector was a simple tin-plate affair, only taking the 30ft and 60ft closed cassettes of the time. It was hand-turned with the film being taken-up on a 60ft spool mounted in the base of the machine. Once the film was complete, a lever was moved to 'rewind' which opened the film gate and the film rewound back into the cassette. There was a simple two element bakelite mounted lens and the machine was fitted with a dropper resistance fed A1/73 40 volt 15 watt small bayonet cap lamp. There was a 'barrel' shutter and the film movement was by a claw driven by a simple triangle type cam. There was no provision for showing of 'notched title' films (Pathescope film releases with very short titles with notches to stop the projector for a few seconds during these titles). In any case the heat from the lamp soon buckled the film unless the handle was kept turning whilst the lamp was on! Oddly enough this projector design later re-appeared with a deeper base as the first cine projector from the Dekko company.
Coronet Mk 1 (Model 'A') Cine Camera
Coronet Mk 1 cine camera ('Model A')
The 1932 Coronet 9.5mm Mk 1 cine camera was a simple affair - a 'sardine tin' type metal case size 5.25 x 4.5 x 2.125 inches and weighing around 1.25 Kg., leatherette covered, fitted with a clockwork spring wound motor running a full 30ft of film at 16 frames per second, and a fixed focus f3.9 iris operated lens mounted on a bakelite front piece. There was a leather carry handle, direct vision viewfinder and push button for filming. There was no provision for single frames nor even a tripod bush. Film was loaded in the usual Pathe 'P' film chargers which hold around 28ft of 9.5mm camera film. Interestingly, the film intermittent movement was achieved by a maltese cross type movement driving a sprocket below the film gate. A simple barrel type shutter was employed. The film gate area was a mazak casting which these days will often be found to be distorted or cracked. The main feature of this camera was its price - only 75 shillings - that is £3.75 in modern parlance. This made it a very cheap product - Pathescope cameras started at just over £5 for example. Unfortunately results were non too sharp even at smaller lens apertures, but it no doubt was popular and got people involved with home movies..
Coronet Model 11 Cine Projector
Part of the back of the instruction sheet for the Coronet Mk 2 cine projector
Supposedly based on customers' suggestions passed on by Coronet dealers, a new Coronet 9.5mm cine projector was introduced after about five yearrs.
Coronet Mk2 (Model 11) 9.5mm cine projector
The Mk 2 Coronet 9.5mm cine projector, launched in 1937, was a complete redesign, mostly made of a mazak type die casting, although retaining the A1/73 40 volt 15 watt small bayonet cap, dropper resistance fed, lamp. Whilst retaining a fitting for those 30ft and 60ft closed cassettes there were also spool arms that took up to 400ft spools. Although it could be supplied as just hand driven, most examples are motor driven from an internally fitted series wound motor with speed control mounted in the projector base. This projector also used an intermittent sprocket driven by a 10 slot 'maltese cross' geneva wheel movement with another sprocket to feed the film onto the take-up spool. There was no feed sprocket though. The machine was fitted with a "1inch / 25mm anastigmat projection lens giving a brilliant picture 36 inches x 27 inches at a 10 foot throw" - well that's what the advert said anyway - no trades description laws in those days! The lamp was fan cooled, rewind was by hand onto the feed spool (or cassette). In the mid 1930s the price was 5 guineas (£5.25) plus an extra 45/- (£2.25) for the motor, but as you see from the above advert the price (motor driven) had risen to just under £10 by 1939. Finally there was the similar Model 11A with a brighter A1/2 115 volt 50 watt small bayonet cap lamp and f2 projection lens.
I have recently come across a very tatty instruction sheet for the Mk 11 projector - it is reproduced below - maybe useful, sorry about the scans!
Coronet Mk 2 (Model 'B') Cine Camera
Coronet Mk2 (Model B) 9.5mm cine camera
With the price remaining the same, an updated version of the Coronet cine camera (model B), arrived around 1937. This improved model had a tripod bush, the bakelite front piece was gone, replaced with a nickel plated lens aperture ring for the T.T.H. (Taylor, Taylor & Hobson) f3.9 fixed focus 27mm lens and a metal front plate with exposure advice. The footage counter only operated when the charger was loaded and advanced 3 foot at a time. Portrait or close-up atttachments were available for 4 to 6 feet and 6 to 12 feet. . Results were claimed to be quite good. There was even a patented film charger available to purchase, allowing the use of non Pathéscope film stocks.
Coronet Mk 3 (Model 'C') Cine Camera
Coronet Mk3 (Model C) 9.5mm cine camera
In 1938 a 'new' Coronet 9.5mm cine camera arrived - the model C. This retained the same stying as the model B but was fitted with a conventional shutter, single frame release and filming speeds of 16 & 64 frames / second. The model C was priced at just under £5 and announced with a full page advert in the September 1938 Amateur Cine World magazine, followed by a review in the next month's edition. I can find no further mention of it and the few dealers who advertised Coronet cine cameras made no mention of model C and had already begun clearing stocks of the model B at 'store soiled' discount prices - so I guess the word had spread that quality was poor.
Coronet Cine Accessories
Coronet advertised various cine accessories including a well made velvet lined leather cine camera case, a cine projector case, small projection screen, set of close-up lenses and filters, a nice looking film titler and a bakelite moulded 'P' type 9.5mm film charger.
Coronet after World War 11
After WW2 the company concentrated on low price still cameras, including a 3D camera and viewer. It was incorporated in 1946 becoming Coronet Ltd. Production ceased by 1967. Lens quality was still rather poor - at school in the late 1950s I offered a develop & print service for friends (pretensiously called "Glenmore Photographic Services"- our house name) and Coronet box camera etc. results were not a patch on stuff from Kodak cheapie cameras! Many of the Coronet plastic moulded still camera models, especially the midget coloured designs have become very collectable today!
Coronet miniature still camera
For those with internet access, a quick 'google' on 'Coronet cameras' will result in a number of intereresting articles about the Coronet Company together with photos and descriptions of many of their low priced and often novel still camera designs.
@Grahame L. Newnham - 10June2013.
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Created 10June2013 ...... Last updated: 03 May 2016 ......
95gearcor.htm ...... @Grahame L. Newnham MM111
02July2013 Lamp type numbers added / 10Feb2014 Mention of intermittent sprocket drive on cameras added
05Dec2014 - Extra illustrations added / 31Dec2014 - leaflet scan added / 03May2016 - Mk 2 projector inst. added