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1891 - 1900
Granville Mfg. Co.
Mossberg & Granville Mfg. Co.
Providence, Rhode Island. U.S.
The Granville Automatic was both the second and final of British-born inventor Bernard Granville's (186? - 19??) ventures in typewriter production. The first being the ill-fated Rapid produced by The Western Rapid Typewriter Company of Findlay, Ohio and this Granville being the latter. Though both were mechanically innovative, they were also both mismanaged resulting in failed enterprises. We'll concentrate on the Granville here.
Bernard was awarded patent no.446,676 in 1891 for The Granville Automatic typewriter. On the application he wrote that, "The invention relates to improvements upon the machine shown in United States Letters Patent No.382,036," which was a patent for the Rapid. Both typewriters were designed with a thrust-action typebar arrangement. As a result, that made them the first two in history with such an innovation.
Bernard Granville did try one last time to save his failing typewriter venture. He traveled to England and registered the Granville Automatic Typewriter Syndicate, Limited on April 11, 1899. Offices were at 54 & 55 Cornhill, London. Stocks of the syndicate were offered to potential investors. During September, Bernard exhibited the Granville at London's Holborn Restaurant while Pittman's Journal of Commercial Education, a British periodical, reviewed the typewriter and its merits. All was for naught, though. Bernard could not garner enough interest.
Frank Mossberg started the Mossberg Mfg., Co. in 1889. Almost immediately upon incorporating, he and Granville relocated their company to 100 Williams Street in Providence. Other than typewriters, the company also manufactured tools, bearings, presses and machinery. These were Frank's contributions. In May of 1899, Frank left the company, and the typewriter business, to start anew. Though the company was still named "Mossberg-Granville," it was only Bernard who was left at the helm. Frank had denounced any claim. He must have known that the business was about to go under.
The Granville was designed with an 84-key, single-shift keyboard layout capable of producing 84 characters. Ink application was by ribbon. The typewriter was offered with either a black enameled or nickel plated top plate. Granvilles were first offered in early 1896 by the newly formed Granville Manufacturing Company of Providence, Rhode Island though it is doubtful any were made by this outfit. Then, in August of the same year, Granville merged with Mossberg Manufacturing to form the Mossberg-Granville Manufacturing Compay which was incorporated under the State of New York.
The justification for the Granville's "Automatic" designation, according to advertisements, was because most of its functions were controlled from the keyboard. For example, by depressing the two 1" medallion-like keys located to the left and right of the top-plate, the operator could return the carriage. Another key operated line spacing. These functions weren't actually automated, just relocated. Lastly, as the illustration above suggests, the carriage return mechanism may have first been integrated into the latter Rapid model first, not the Granville.
According to a blurb published on September 6, 1896 in The Sun, a New York City newspaper, the Mossberg & Granville company had "no debts or liabilities." By May of 1903 the company had $1.269M in liabilities and only $200K in assets. The company's attorney made the following statement: "The manufacture of typewriters, which was formerly part of the company's product, is responsible for the condition of the company. Although this part of the business was abandoned in the Summer of the year 1900, the loss was so great that recovery was impossible." It was also written that all of the company's other products were profitable but the losses incurred by the Granville were to great.
When Bernard returned to Rhode Island his employees drove the final nail in the coffin that was his company. In April of 1900, they went on strike over the company's inability to pay overtime. Bernard fired 35 employees in response and, on April 28th, he locked out the rest. He stated that he would operate a non-union shop from then on.
Bernards Granville's front-strike typebar arrangement would prove successful, just not for him. Wellington Parker Kidder patented a similar designed for his Wellington in 1892. It would prove to be one of the most influential typebar arrangements in typewriter history.