Coronet Midget: Tiny and Shiny in the 1930s

Coronet MidgetManufacturers of electronic gadgets know only too well that small and shiny sells and that bright colours mesmerise the ape brain. Modern electronics and plastics make wondrous things easier to achieve in miniature, but in fact not much is new.

Dropping in after a picnic lunch at the rather lovely Angus Folk Museum a couple of weeks back I found this little beauty in a glass case. It’s difficult to appreciate how small this camera is from the picture–since it’s behind glass I couldn’t slip a ten pence piece in alongside it–but that thing just in front of it is a roll of 16mm film, so just over 1.5cm tall. The camera itself is about the size of my thumb.

According to this article at the Coronet Midget was in production from 1935 and was advertised as ‘the world’s smallest camera’. While it’s a long way from that now it is still a lot smaller than most current ‘point and shoot’ cameras. Like many current cameras it also came in a range of colours, including blue, red, and black. The down side of course is that the standard prints that came from the six-exposure film were so small they had to be viewed with an accessory magnifying glass–just one of a range of accessories available apparently. It seems that the Coronet company, which was founded in 1926, ceased production in 1967, but with marketing ideas like these it might have done well today.

In terms of practicality Ephotozine has this to say:

Picture taking with a Midget was a straightforward affair as there are no camera adjustments available. In fact apart from the shutter release, the only control is a lock to prevent the camera being fired accidentally. The photographer’s only real choice is whether to take the picture in landscape or portrait format. The claimed shutter speed is 1/30 of a second and the lens has an effective aperture of f/10.

The Coronet Midget was discussed on the Instructables forum earlier this year and there are some good pictures showing the camera alongside familiar objects, including the obligatory coin. Still more pictures of Coronet Midgets here.