10 February 2012

The Corona 3

I was, and still am excited. The reason, one of them, has been validated.

The first reason I was excited lead to the second. This is the second reason. They first reason will surely take a little longer (but I'll give a hint: it is the product which would compete heavily with the Corona 3 and Underwood Portable, and force the competition to act, and has rubber rollers which do not stand time well). But, that will be another topic. This topic is the Corona 3.

The Olivetti-Underwood Lettera 33 is now no longer my most expensive typewriter in terms of how much I paid. I do not think I could hope to get a Corona 3 in this condition for a better price without doing a lot of hunting, and it arrived two days after buying it.

This machine is full of history. First, it was the flagship product of the Standard Typewriter Company (being originally named the Standard Folding Typewriter) in 1907. They continuously worked on it, so the line has very clear slices of history evident in each typewriter. It also caused them to change the name of the company and typewriter to something more unique. I have a suspicion it was the Internet backlash against such a boring name for such a great product.

A few notes about my typewriter. It is a double shifting typewriter and despite its age and novelty, it has much in common with the more modern designs. In some areas, it is ahead of later designs. The keyboard contains the "!" and a full range of numerals from 1 to 0. However, to access everything but the letters and comma and period, one has to use the second shift, which moves the carriage quite a bit up. If one does not go down all the way, it will strike in a weird spot, so it is not something on can do quickly on this model. I had an Underwood 3 bank (which needed work) which was also a double shifting three bank typewriter, but it has a much shorter travel if I recall correctly. However, it was also much smaller and barely big enough for a standard sized sheet of paper.

This Corona 3 was the type of typewriter used in the Great War, World War I. It is very portable, full of features, and quite robust. I had feared the folding design would make it more fragile, but it actually quite robust.

This is my oldest typewriter now, and it works quite well except for the ribbon. I do not think it was designed to use such a light nylon ribbon. I will, later, investigate this later. The ribbon spools system is something which would be developed later, but on this model, the spools are similar to Skyriter spools (small and with a clip to hold the ribbon), but they do not have a bottom. The ribbon is shorter than a normal ribbon and the manual says not to use standard ribbons because they are too long. Since you have to wind them on anyway, I do not think a ribbon can be "too long". Did they not have scissors back then? I used one of the new generic ribbons I get for cheap and cut the ribbon reverse rings out, and just wound it on until it was at the proper length, and cut it. But the original ribbon is heavy and may be made of cotton. The ribbon advances ok, but it advances way too much and will not wind fully onto the other. That is one of the reasons for the typing example being subpar...I was spending a lot of time taking up the slack.

Also, I will look into the line spacing mechanism more. It is adjustable, but I was so excited, I was in a hurry to make this post and did not even do any cleaning or fully looking at the manual for this. It worked, so I used it. The ribbon took too much time, so after I got that done, I got right to work (twice, due to the three bank, one has to use the keyboard much differently because it is also narrower and touch typing on such a keyboard without practice leads to a lot of "tge" and the like).

But, here it is:

Corona 3, folding typewriter

Corona 3, folding typewriter, folded

It is out of its carry case of course.

Now, all I need are a Corona Four and a Flattop model to complete my line of Corona portable models from the beginning to the end of the typebar design (Corona Folding to the the Sterling Automatic).


  1. Veery nice post. You have a very wonderful typewriter. I have wanted one of those although I have yet to want to part with enough money to get one.

    1. really I got one for free, it works perfectly, but needs a ribbon. Is it worth anything?

    2. Normal production of Corona 3 models usually will sell for between $30 and $100, plus shipping. One can sometimes get more if the model is particular interesting to the buyer.

      Keep in mind that some people have very precise buying guidelines. Some people will pay for what they want, some will have very low limits. It depends on the buyer.

      Good photos, accurate description of faults, and assurance of safe shipping will make it a more compelling buy.

  2. Congratulations! These are really neat devices. A Corona 3 is the first typewriter I bought after having my eyes opened to the variety of early typewriters and becoming an obsessed collector. I have never gotten mine to work very well, but it displays beautifully at least.

  3. The Corona 3 is one of my favorites. I found out to address that slack problem you tighten one nut and loosen the other. I think you tighten the takeup side but am not certain of my memory. Also you mention the manual so you probably knew to wind it in an "S" pattern. It's the only one I have like that. Congrats. Very nice machine.

  4. What slack problem? It works fine (see: the next post)

    It is funny now that I have had it more than a few minutes (I wrote this post as quickly as I could get the ribbon on, minus one page of trying to touch type on a 3 bank keyboard...the right hand expects the pinky to be on a key and my hand automatically shifts over to place it "correctly") I see its virtues and one flaw. The typewriter is too small. It types well though. It is like a desktop in design, but a lot smaller.

  5. How much are you selling this for? There's one for sale in Orinda here without the case for $150. I'm looking for something portable to take with my on my humanitarian clown trip and I can only imagine what a hoot everyone would get watching me write stories on this.

    My name is Emma Lou and I can be reached at harpostyle@gmail.com. Thank you.

  6. I have a couple nice folding Corona No. 3's for sale and ready for restoration. They are both on e-bay. I will combine shipping if you win both auctions.