The Buckner was named for it's inventor (I use the term inventor loosely here), former Linotype press operator Homer Guy Hays Buckner (1877 - 1937). Buckner lived in Oakland, California in 1908 when he started the Buckner Lino-Writer Company out of his home at 726 10th Street (demolished to make room for Interstate Highway 980). I assume this was strictly a mail order business and Buckner simply contracted Smith-Premier to produce modified typewriters as he received orders. A 1911 ad in the Inland Printer mentioned "2 styles" available of the Buckner at two different prices. A 1914 ad in the same periodical touted the Buckner as being "built like a Linotype." By then the company name was advertised as the Buckner Lino-Typewriter Company.
1908 - 1919
Buckner Lino-Typewriter Co.
When is a Smith-Premier not a Smith-Premier? When it's a Buckner Lino-Typewriter, of course. Buckners were modified Smith-Premiers with keyboards that had their upper and lower case characters separated vertically instead of horizontally. There was also a spacebar added to the left side of the keyboard. This layout was designed to mimic that of a Linotype press. Buckner Lino-Typewriters were intended to help Linotype operators to transition from the press to the typewriter without having to learn the QWERTY layout.
Photo: Breker Auctions
Obviously, without definitive proof, it's only speculative that the Empire Type Foundry bought part or all of Homer Buckner's business. However, according to the 1920 U.S. Census, Buckner was no longer employed within the Linotype industry and, from a logistical point of view, being in Buffalo, the Foundry was within a couple hours of the Smith-Premier factory in Syracuse.
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Thus far I know of Smith-Premier Nos.1, 2, 4 and 10 that were modified to be Buckners. I would not be surprising if there were others. I know of only SP No.1 models having been made with their original spacebars removed and replaced with a non-functional wood slat, thus forcing the operator to use the spacebar added to the left side. Though, again, it should not be surprising if a No.1 bubbles up with its original spacebars and the one on the side. Lastly, Paul Lippman's book, American Typewriters, A Collector's Encyclopedia, mentions that some bore Buckner insignia.
So when is a Buckner not a Buckner? When it's a Linowriter, of course. In August of 1919, Homer Buckner ran an ad in the Oakland Tribune selling half his mail order business. Within a couple years, as early as July of 1921, the Empire Type Foundry of Buffalo, New York began advertising its Linowriter which seems to have been the successor to the Buckner. It had a nearly identical vertical keyboard layout but no side spacebar.
All of the Linowriters were modified Smith-Premier No.10's whether they were labeled as SP's, Remingtons or Linowriters.