American Typewriter Co.
265-267 Broadway, New York, New York, US
The American Typewriter Co. once advertised of its little typewriter that it was "...a splendid investment for those who can't afford the time to learn and money to buy an expensive typewriter." At about $8 each, versus the $100 price tag of larger standard machines, Americans were definitely more attractive to cost conscious consumers. To put it in perspective and factoring for inflation, today's cost of one of these little machines would have been about $200 versus $2500 for a Remington Standard.
The American was also significantly quicker to master because there really wasn't too much to the them. Its inventor, Louis Philippe Valiquet, designed them using just a mere 35 parts (patent no.510,214). The typist need only move the pointer to a character along the crescent index with one hand and press a single lever with the other hand to print. That's it!
According to an 1897 interview with Halbert Edwin Payne, president of the American Typewriter Co. and to whom Valiquet sold the rights for the American, Payne stated that Valiquet could not market the typewriter effectively despite an initial price of just $5. So, Improvements were made under Payne's direction and the price was raised to $6. In July of 1895 more improvements yielded and $8 price tag. Payne anticipated a $10 price point with yet more improvements to come.
Payne also mentioned that by 1895 about 2,500 Americans were sold and over 10,000 during 1896. He further stated that a total of 21,000 were sold at a rate of over 100 per day at the time of the interview. These figures are probably inflated.
All improvements aside, only two distinctly different models were ever produced: model Nos.1 & 2. The No.1 typed uppercase exclusively and, in turn, required a smaller index. The No.2 model, like the one on this page, had a larger index to accommodate the additional lowercase characters. Overseas examples were sold under the names Globe & Champignon. Champignon translates to mushroom from French. Fitting, yes? Other name variants include the Crown made by Lyon Mfg. Co. and the Practical.
Need an instruction manual for your No.2? Get it here...