L.C. Smith & Bros No.8
1915 - 1936
L.C. Smith & Bros. (1915 - 1925)
L.C. Smith Bros. & Corona (1925 - 1936)
Lyman Cornelius Smith (1850 - 1910) and his brothers originally started the Smith-Premier Typewriter Co. but were forced to sever ties with that company and start another. In 1903. the L.C. Smith & Brothers Typewriter Co. was incorporated in the State of New York. By 1904 the company began producing model Nos.1 & 2 and, eventually, years later, the very similar No.8 on this page. What the No.5 model was to the Underwood and the No.10 to the Royal typewriter companies, so was the No.8 to Smith & Bros... it was the cornerstone of their business.
No.8's were produced concurrently with model Nos. 3 - 7 for a few years before the old style was phased out. The major innovation of the No.8 over the first few models was the application of ball bearing in the typebar mechanism. A decimal tabulator was also incorporated. No.8s, like their predecessors, were traditional frontsrike typewriters with single-shift, four-row keyboards. Lastly, No.8s made before 1928, had exposed frames while the latter were enclosed.
The L.C. Smith & Bros. factory was located in Syracuse, NY. In 1925 the company merged with Corona to form the L.C. Smith & Corona Typewriter Co. Thus, decals found on your No.8 could help date it to pre- or post-merger. There are exceptions because older examples could have been refurbished with post-merger decals. Other decals may cause someone to refer to one of these typewriters as a model No.8-10 or No.8-11. That second number simply denotes the length of the carriage.
No.8s were superbly built typewriters ideal for daily use, but, just like most L.C. Smiths, they generally have very little value. That's because there were over a million produced. Of course there are some examples that could fetch more than average. These could include nickel-plated examples, unused new-old-stock examples or factory rebuilt examples that was never used since being rebuilt (like the one at the top and bottom of this page). The Secretarial model is a No.8 with a beautiful, Art Deco inspired, olive drab finish. It too is fairly common.
As mentioned, the typewriter at the top and bottom of this page is a factory rebuilt No.8 that was never used after having been rebuilt. It belonged to Grace Ambrose. She passed it on to her son, Rich, who in turn was gracious enough to pass it on to me. Rich put it this way in our early correspondences, "Please remember the typewriters are very personal to me because of my Mom, and wish them to be with someone who would care and appreciate them as I have."
Grace Ambrose, born to Swedish immigrants, was both an accomplished piano player and typist. Her nimble, 100 words-per-minute fingers landed her a job as a typist for Western Electric. This No.8 was her typewriter there. After she married military man Thomas Pugh Jr., and the U.S. entered WWII, Grace left her position at Western Electric and moved base-to-base with her husband. Her typewriter was sent to L.C. Smith to be fully rebuilt, including new paint and decals, so it would be ready for her when she re-entered the workforce.
Life had other plans for Grace after the War. She took the time to raise her two children, which, of course, were priority. Grace's typewriter waited, but when she eventually got a job as Secretary to the Principal in the Dobbs Ferry school district, IBM Selectrics had taken the place of manual typewriters. Her No.8 remained boxed-up an untouched ever since.
Rich stated that his mother, "...always spoke about the quality of the L.C., and I know she loved it very much. It is why I have kept it for so long. She loved her job working with kids in the school district and stayed on at Dobbs for 28 years until she retired at 72."
I'm immensely grateful to Rich for having the foresight of preserving this typewriter in such pristine condition, for allowing me to get to know Grace a little bit, and for trusting me with her treasured No.8. Thank you, Rich.
Looking for a copy of an original User's Manual for your L.C. Smith No.8? I have it here...
Questions? Comments? Have an nickel plated No.8 for sale? Please email me at Antikey.Chop@gmail.com