1888 - 1894
Fitch Type Writer Co.
Des Moines, IA
The first patent issued to inventor Eugene L. Fitch (1846 - 1918) of Des Moines, IA that was specific to the Fitch typewriter was no.345,836, dated to July 20, 1886. To be fair, the machine itself was stenciled with 3 earlier patent dates but none related directly to the typewriter. Eugene established the Fitch Type-Writer Co. at 317 West 6th Street in Des Moines as early as 1888 with himself installed 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 given by a former Brady company salesman that was printed in the October, 1923 issue of Typewriter Topics, it was at Brady that the first Fitch typewriters were produced. Nowadays these are known as the "American" Fitch models. A slightly different model was produced later in England which is aptly referred to as the "British" Fitch. The serial number range of known American Fitches is 46 to 520. British Fitch serial numbers range from 1988 t0 3670.
It was at the Brady company where Eugene met John Newton Williams. That is why nowadays many collectors have noticed some physical and mechanical similarities shared by the Fitch and the Williams.
The Fitch company ceased t0 exist in the U.S. as early as July of 1891 when it officially morphed into the Williams Typewriter Co., according to The Shorthand Review. The rights to the Fitch were sold to a U.K. firm which produced the British Fitch until December of 1892. After then the process of dissolvement had begun. In April of 1894 the Fitch, in all its forms, had come to and end.
The Fitch's rear-downstrike typebar arrangement distinguished it from most other brands. It's what gave the typewriter its unique form but also doomed it to fail. Three other brands were produced with the same typebar arrangement: Brooks, Norths and Waverley. All were failures.
The Fitch was capable of typing 78 characters from its 26 key, double-shift keyboard. It had a unique space "key" at the center of the bottom row. The layout, as seen below, was quite peculiar. Ink transferred by roller. The earliest examples had two reservoirs on the left and right sides behind the carriage for spare ink rollers. A bentwood case was included with the original price of $50.
One overlooked and underreported aspect of the Fitch is its stature. I can't think of another typebar machine from the 1880s that was as well built while at the same time being as lightweight and small. The Fitch weighed just 11 pounds and took up less than 1 cubic foot of space. Though it was never marketed as a "portable," it very well could have been.