Specially commissioned cameras are rare gems-momentos-
of which the best show off the art of a builder. Most are
straightforward designs with minor embellishments and a small
But every so often, a presentation camera representing a higher
level of artisanship is found. What appears to be a modified No.4
Cartridge Kodak is actually a highly customized Korona Special
plate camera (Gundlach Optical Co.).
In place of simple leather embossed lines outlining the perimeter
of the body, the art of the craftsman is on full display with deep
reliefs of elegant floral motifs adorning the body panels.
The dramatic reliefs are achieved by pressing paper-thin leather
into an unusually thick, carved wood body.
White metal corners - possibly German silver - compliment the
carvings and further add to the camera's air of sophistication and
Other refinements slowly reveal themselves on closer inspection;
hidden button latches under the leather are replaced by locks
that open with a small key (loose the key and you are in
trouble!), mahogany insets in the drop bed, a reflex finder shade
made of copper, and the use of plush purple velvet to absorb light
in the film chamber.
However, the overall theme of the camera is odd and confusing. The top of the camera has reliefs of the four suits found on playing card (clubs,
spades, diamonds and hearts) and a five point star is beneath the strap. The year 1903 prominently takes up most of the drop bed.
Korona Special Presentation Camera, 1903 Gundlach Optical Company or Unknown Craftsman
Left Top view of the Korona Special shows embossing with
four card suits and a five point star underneath the strap.
Below Left The year 1903 is carved into the bottom of
the drop bed.
Below Right The rear of the camera is adorned with floral
motifs on the doors and panels.
What occasion or person was in mind for this camera? -- Maybe the winner of a big card tournament? A card-shark gardener?
No references to this camera have been found, but feel free to e-mail if you have ideas.