Fitch (American)

1888 - 1894

Fitch Type Writer Co.

Des Moines, IA 

The first patent issued to inventor Eugene L. Fitch (1846 - 19??) of Des Moines, IA that was specific to this typewriter was no.345,836, dated to July 20, 1886.. To be fair, the typewriter itself was stenciled with 3 earlier patent dates but none that relate directly to the Fitch. Eugene established the Fitch Type-Writer Co. at 317 West 6th Street in Des Moines as early as 1888 and installed himself as president. Almost immediately he brought the typewriter to the Brady Mfg. Co. of Brooklyn, NY where production commenced in 1889.


According to an interview that was printed in the October, 1923 issue of Typewriter Topics given by a former Brady company salesman, it was there that the first Fitch typewriters were produced. Nowadays these are known as the "American" Fitch model. A slightly different models was produced later in England which is aptly referred to as the "British" Fitch. The serial number range of known American Fitches is 46 - 520. British Fitch serial number range is 1988 - 3670.

Fitch Typewriter Business Card_0002.jpg

It was also at the Brady company where Eugene met John Newton Williams. That is why many collectors have noticed some physical and mechanical similarities shared by the Fitch and the Williams.

Fitch Typewriter Patent 01.jpg

The Fitch company ceased t0 exist in the US as early as July of 1891. That's when it officially became the Williams Typewriter Co., according to The Shorthand Review. It operated in the UK until December of 1892. After then the process of dissolvement had begun which was complete in April of 1894.


Fitch Typewriter becomes Williams Typewriter July 1891 01.jpg

What distinguished the Fitch from most other typewriter was its rear-downstrike typebar arrangement. This gave the machine its unique form but also doomed it to fail. Only 3 other brands had the same typebar arrangement: Brooks, Norths and Waverley. All were failures.



The typewriter itself has two patent dates stenciled on its top plate. One reconciles with Waite’s October, 1887 patent but the other, the October 7, 1884 one, is more peculiar. On that date there were just two U.S. patents issued for a “type-writing machine.” I resolve that patent no.306,295, issued to Charles E Tilton of Worcester, MA for the Tilton typewriter, is the one in question. Charles’s firm, Tilton Mfg..Co., at the time, was located in Portland, ME as was the Axial company so there’s that connection. But there’s more...


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