National No.2

1888 - 1899
National Typewriter Co.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US

The National No.2 model is sometimes be referred to as the No.1B because the differences between the it and the No.1 are quite few. Other than the most obvious, a space bar that was elongated and moved from the right side to the center, I could otherwise only identify minimal cosmetic changes. These changes included variations in pinstripes and the font of the decal. The variations also overlapped between the two models. Essentially, they're almost the same machine.

Henry Herman Unz (1857 - 1905) is the National's credited visionary though its genesis belongs to Franz Xaver Wagner (1837 - 1907) who, in 1885, patented this typewriter's curved three-row, double-shift keyboard (patent no.326,178). Unz would expand on Wagner's keyboard design, filing for several patents along the way. The culmination would be patent no.400,146, the National typewriter as we know it today.

Nationals were produced in Philadelphia, PA. The original factory was at 715 - 719 Arch St. It was later moved to the corner of Arch St. and 23rd St. The advertised price for these machines was $60, which was almost half the amount of other blindwriters on the market.

Nationals had a front-upstrike typebar arrangement that could produce 81 characters from 29 keys. They had a double-shift mechanism that pivoted the keyboard and type segment back and forth for typing uppercase and figures. Furthermore, the keyboard and type segment could be removed quickly and easily to clean or adjust the machine. The overall design of this typewriter was very compact. For perspective, Smith-Premier blindwriters were about three times larger and heavier. 

The National Typewriter Company began transitioning out of 715 - 719 Arch Street in 1893. By 1896 all production and all sales were relocated to the building at the corner of 23rd and Arch Streets. In 1899, the National Typewriter Company restructured and incorporated under the State of Delaware. Finally, in 1903, the company had completely dissolved. H.H. Unz died on February 3, 1905 of acute pulmonary tuberculosis.

The beautiful building at 715 - 719 Arch Street, where these typewriters were first produced, has since been demolished and is currently a parking lot... right across the street form another parking lot. The other factory, at the corner of 23rd and Arch Streets, stands in part though refaced.

I love Nationals and I wouldn't mind another. Email me at