Reaching Record Peaks:
The Midas Touch
New Model, Expanded Factory,
1300% increase in British business,
100 new Groton homes,
Australian Prime Minister takes on world tourThe Corona Typewriter Company greeted 1916 full of confidence in its immediate future. Indeed, looking back now, it seems almost like cockiness. But why not? The Corona 3 folding portable typewriter had become, in 3 ½ short years from its advent in May 1912, by far the hottest topic in the worldwide typewriter industry.
Monthly Typewriter Topics issues in 1916 were to be jam packed with Corona 3 news - about the massive expansion of the Groton factory, building 100 new homes in Groton to accommodate rapid increases in staff numbers, record sales, and Corona conventions across the US to mark the introduction of a modified, improved version of the Corona 3.
The Corona 3, Typewriter Topics noted, had developed something of a Midas touch. In mid-October 1916, Corona Typewriter Company workers had - when they found some spare time from making thousands of the new portable typewriters each month - uncovered a rich source of natural gas outside Groton.
World War I had closed off major typewriter markets (Germany, perhaps, most notably; think of the emergence of Corona 3-like machines in that country at this time). But Corona had more than compensated for this loss of trade. Business in Britain had increased 13-fold.
As in the previous year, Corona 3s were proving their popularity, portability and adaptability by being taken everywhere humanly accessible, and being used by adventurers, political activists and Australian prime ministers on trips around the world and across America.
Motivated by positive feedback from Ray Nickson, Florian and Cameron Kopf, I am pressing on with this series while I can, with just two days left before the year of the centenary of the Corona 3 ends.
REACHING THE HIGHEST PEAKS
AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER'S CORONA 3
Australian Prime Minister Billy Hughes was introduced to the Corona 3 folding portable typewriter by his private secretary, former typewriter salesman Percival Edgar (Percy) Deane. Deane, born on August 10, 1890, at Port Melbourne, was an expert shorthand-writer. He served in Egypt in 1914 but was invalided home and was appointed private secretary to Hughes at a salary of £408. Shortly after taking up his post, Deane met and married Hughes's typist, Ruth Marjorie Manning.
Hughes took his Corona 3 with him when he travelled across the Pacific and North America on his way to England in mid-1916. William Morris Hughes was born on September 25, 1862, at Pimlico, London, the son of a Welsh-born British Houses of Parliament carpenter. Billy Hughes left Britain for Queensland in October 1884 as an assisted migrant. He became Australian Prime Minister in October 1915 when Andrew Fisher resigned. Hughes was given secret information by governor-general Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson about Japan's intentions in the Pacific and decided he must have urgent discussions with the British government and the prime ministers of Canada and New Zealand. Hughes and his Corona 3 reached England, via Wellington and Ottawa, on March 7, 1916. There he had help from Rupert Murdoch's war correspondent father, Keith Murdoch, in public relations. In June Hughes was part of the British delegation to an allied conference in Paris to determine economic policies towards Germany. While in France he visited the front, where he had contact with the Australian troops.
CORONA 3s ON THE FRONT
SUFFRAGETTES RIDE GOLDEN FLIER
WITH A CORONA 3
On April 6, 1916, in an attempt to influence politicians and public opinion, suffragists Nell Richardson and Alice Burke, left New York in their yellow Baby Saxon car (the "Golden Flier") to drive across and around America to gain support for voting rights for women. With them was a black kitten, also named Saxon, and a black Corona 3 folding portable typewriter. Sponsored by the National American Woman Suffrage Association, Burke, of Illinois, and Richardson, of Virginia, got back to New York at the end of September 1916 after travelling 10,700 miles. The United States was divided into “yellow” and “black” states: yellow states supported women’s suffrage; black states did not. The pair got lost for four nights in a desert. They expressed surprise that Southern men were more interested in hearing what they had to say than those in more northern states.
FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE:
THE CORONA 3 AND THE 'SPY'
William Washburn Nutting was a "mid-westerner of great personal charm and energies, with no yachting experience whatever when he arrived in New York in about 1907", to begin a career as a writer and later editor of various yachting magazines, including Motor Boat. He subsequently was commissioned in the US Navy and served on the famed 110-foot sub chasers of World War I. Nutting was the first Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of America.
CORONA 3 AT WORLD'S
MOST POPULAR WATERING HOLE
MIDAS TOUCH OF CORINA 3
October 19, 1916: "...Everybody connected
with the Corona was lucky"
Corona's first "spot colour" advertisement, Typewriter Topics 1916
WHY CAN'T ONE BUY A SECOND-HAND CORINA 3?
THE NEW CORONA 3, APRIL 1916
August 1, 1916
September 1, 1916
October 1, 1916
Your brilliant posts, Robert, leave me with one question: Why don't we still make them today?
I was actually given a Corona Three about three years ago by a man at my church. It had been owned by his aunt and who knows before her. I took it to a shop for refurbishing and the only thing that needed to be done was a re-covering of the platen.
I rarely use it, but it's a great and hardy little machine.
Excellent - but that mountain doesn't impress me.
You make my day - again.
This Corona story is getting better and better!
On to Parts IV & V...
Robert, thank you again for documenting this very important part of typewriter history!
I was astonished to see a Corona 3 Portable typewriter for sale in a Charity shop on the East coast of Britain about 5 years ago for the princely sum of £2.50. In it's case and entirely undamaged, I could not have got my wallet out any quicker. As a student in the 1960s I learned to use a typewriter and have always had one. My Corona even had a ribbon in it and, whilst being driven home to my old cottage in the Derbyshire Peak District, searched for a piece of paper in the car to try it out. I like antiques, but prefer technology items such as typewiters, telephones, morse keys, cameras, old radios etc. The Corona sits on a little table in the French windows of my sitting room next to the candlestick telephone of 1924 vintage (no dial)and I still use it on a weekly basis for correspondence etc. Best fifty-shillings (in pre-decimal currency) I ever spent!
Thank you Jasper, Florian, Georg, Cameron and David.
Jasper, they don't still make them because when they did make them, they made them too well.
This is a lovely story, David, thank you for sharing. I suspect many have stumbled across Corona 3s still fully operational and have thoroughly enjoyed using them over the years. A long time ago I posted on a flurry of letters in a British motoring magazine from about 1961, all telling similar stories.
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