|February 23, 2013||Posted by Photo GearHead under Cool Gear Auctions|
Founded in Birmingham, England in the mid-1920s by Frederick Pettifer, the Coronet Camera company had a stated mission of producing quality, yet low-priced cameras that were easily operable by the average consumer. Pettifer was able to maintain his vision for producing cameras up until 1967, when the Coronet Camera company finally closed its doors. But, during its time, Coronet manufactured a multitude of very inexpensive, mostly folding and box style cameras, that, for the most part, were of fairly reasonable quality for the prices they were offered at. Most of the Coronet line of cameras were distributed via unconventional means — sometimes through premium, up-sell marketing schemes, and often through inexpensive mail-order advertising.
As a somewhat interesting aside — The factory building where Coronet cameras were originally manufactured survives to this day, at 48 Great Hampton Street, Aston, Birmingham.
Currently, there are more than fifty different Coronet camera models known to exist. And, somewhere in that collection can be found the Coronet Ambassador. Coronet began building the Coronet Ambassador around 1955. It’s a standard box camera design, uses 120 film, and produces 6X9 images. The body is molded from plastic Bakelite material, with a metal front-plate attached — and, the whole thing looks rather vintage, rather retro, rather cool.
Did I happen to mention that the Coronet Camera company had a stated mandate of producing inexpensive cameras? At the time of its original manufacturing, around 1955, the Coronet Ambassador had a price tag of about two American dollars. Quite low, even by 1950’s standards. Adjusted for inflation, the equivalent price today would ring in at somewhere around $15.00. And, for the price, the Coronet Ambassador came complete with a couple of pretty nifty features. It features two separate view finders — one for horizontal, and one for vertical composing. It also featured a simple timer function that would allow you to switch the camera into bulb mode, and a switch that would enable a built-in green filter — useful for taking black and white photographs under certain conditions.
Absent, however, was any ability to change aperture on the Coronet Ambassador’s ultra simplistic meniscus style lens, or any ability whatsoever to control focus. But, hey! What do you want from a freakin’ fifteen dollar camera? You got a built-in green filter, didn’t you? Count yourself lucky! There are starving photographers in China that would love to have a built-in green filter! So, you’ll take pictures with this camera and you’ll like it! Or else you’ll be sent to bed without any post-processing!
All in all, the Coronet Ambassador is a somewhat collectible camera, and has found interest from a number of vintage-gear-loving photographers who are into lomography style shooting. 120 film for the Coronet Ambassador is still readily available, and the camera does actually take some pretty good lomo-ish style shots. With that said, however, the seller of this particular Ambassador box camera has placed an opening bid of $49.00 on the item. And, $49.00 does seem to be around the absolute high-side of what the Coronet Ambassador currently fetches — contrary to the seller’s claims, these cameras are not all that rare. Coronet produced quite a number of them. And, I’ve heard more than one story of people recently picking up Coronet box cameras at yard sales, rummage sales, flea markets and the like for well under ten bucks!
So, take it as you will. The seller does confirm that the camera is in good condition and is fully functional. The auction is located here, and is set to end on March 2nd.