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Crown Typewriter

The Crown utilized a typewheel for printing and a linear index from which characters were selected. Ink was transferred from a felt roller (found between the carriage and typewheel) to the characters on the typewheel as it spun during use. The roller would swing out of the way every time a character was selected so that the typewheel could come down unobstructed towards the platen to print. Other than minor mechanical changes and changes to the frame, both Crown models operated in a like manner. Their overall design was basic but well made. Interestingly to me the Edelmann and Gerda were constructed similarly to the Crown despite being made decades later in Germany.

Crown Typewriter
Crown Typewriter

The original price for a Crown was $20, wooden case inclusive. By mid-1891 the price was dropped to $16. And though the Crown was billed as "A Machine For the Millions," it actually was not. The Crown was a failure. Fun fact: the typewriter was more-or-less named after a water meter which The National Meter Co. already produced. Crown was a well known and well respected brand for them.


1888 - 1894

National Meter Company

New York, NY, US


Byron Alden Brooks (1845 - 1911), one of the more celebrated inventors of early typewriters. Not only did he invent the Crown, but he was a central figure in the development of the Brooks, People's, National and Travis typewriters. He also invented the shift key which was first implemented on Remington's No.2 model. For the first of the two Crown models, the one with the boxier frame, Brooks was awarded U.S. patent no.389,095 on March 6, 1888. Though, it should be noted that Brooks began working on it as early as May 16, 1881, as evident by the application date of U.S. patent no.272,023 for the Crown's typewheel.


Bryon Alden Brooks 01.jpg

The National Meter Co. of 252 Broadway in New York City handled all of the marketing and manufacturing for both models. The No.1 was first advertised as early as October of 1888 which was when the ad below dates to. The No.2 was advertised as early as November of 1891 according to an ad I found in The Phonographic World. The last ad I found for the Crown was dated to April of 1892. Lastly, according to The American Typewriter Market of January, 1895, the Crown was already off the market prior to them. I surmise that the typewriter was actually off the market as early as 1893. I am aware that every other prior write-up dated the Crown to first having been produced sometime in 1894. I believe this was erroneous information that was simply repeated unchecked since it was first published in an October, 1923 issue of Typewriter Topics.

Crown Typewriter Ad

As for the No.1 on this page, serial numbered 225 and with custom-made green case labeled, Newark Museum Lending Collection," it has an interesting history. It did, in fact, belong to the Newark Museum and the museum did, in fact, lend it out. All one had to do to borrow it was fill out an attached library card, just as one would for a library book. The last person to borrow the Crown was a "Mark Christian" on January 20, 2010. I bought the typewriter at a New Jersey auction in December of 2016. You may read about the No.2 model I purchased by clicking here...


Known serial numbers of both Crown models range from about 100 to 2000 which ran subsequently from the No.1 to the No.2. The numbers were inscribed into the wood base behind the carriage. 

Other than the typewriters I've mentioned in the beginning, Byron Alden Brooks patented many other inventions, both major and minor and both within and without the typewriter industry. His lasting legacy, though, was one of his first: the shift-key needed for toggling between upper- and lowercase characters. His 140+ year old innovation is still with us today on most of our modern keyboards, and, yes, it was applied to both Crown models as well.

Comments? Do you have a Crown typewriter or artifacts for sale? Please email me at or call +1 (860) 729-2252

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