Wellington Parker Kidder (1853 - 1924) was the inventor of these front-downstrike typewriters. He first applied for a patent for them in 1889. That patent, no.464,504, was awarded to him in 1891 and assigned to the Tilton Manufacturing Company of Boston, Massachusetts. By then Kidder had already moved on from the Franklin and on to his next project: The Wellington typewriter. The Wellington would possess one of the most influential designs in typewriter history. Kidder's even later projects would include The Noiseless typewriter and the ever-elusive Rochester typewriter.
Back to the Franklins. These typewriters were marketed successfully with about 20,000 machines produced among the various models. They were priced from about $60 to $75 and considered partial visible typewriters, meaning that the typist could see only part of their composition (after they leaned over that tall, front shield). Eventually the Victor Typewriter Company took over the Franklin business.
The typewriter community as a whole has accepted that there are five various models:
Type I is easly distinguishable with the name "THE FRANKLIN" in all caps written on a banner that scrolls across the front shield.
The Type II models read "The Franklin" in Old English font on the front shield.
Type III read "New Franklin" on the shield in Roman font. Also, the slogan "Perfection the Aim of Invention" appears on some paper tables.
Type IV are clearly labeled with Nos.7 or 8 (40 or 42 keys) under the keyboard. They read "Franklin" in script on their shields.
Type V are clearly labled as Nos.9 or 10 (40 or 42 keys) under the keyboard. These are the only models with ribbon spools off to the sides rather than at the center of the platen.
A straight keyboard version was in the works in 1906. The concept was scrapped once the Victor Typewriter Company took over operations.
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1891 - 1906
Franklin Typewriter Co.
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Everyone remembers the first time they've marveled at a Franklin typewriter as it sat seductively in front of them. Why is that? Maybe it's the captivating curve of the three-row keyboard. Or maybe it's the shield that stands tall like a sentry protecting the typebars behind it. Or the fantastic decal with Benjamin Franklin's likeness that's present on the paper table of some models. Whatever the reason, Franklin typewriters are a favorite among both fledgling and seasoned collectors.