Smith Premier No.1

1889 - 1896

Smith-Premier Typewriter Co.

Syracuse, New York US

 

The Smith-Premier Typewriter Company was named for brothers Lyman, Hurlburt, Monroe and Wilbert Smith. Prior to entering the typewriter industry these men were gun manufacturers and, as such, under their employ was a man named Alexander Timothy Brown (1854 - 1929). Mr. Brown was an inventive fellow in whom the Smiths had enough faith to give full creative license in creating a new typewriter for them. That typewriter being the Smith-Premier No.1, patented in 1889 (patent no.411,421).

The Smith-Premier No.1 model had a double keyboard (one for uppercase characters and the other for lowercase) as well as two spacebars. It was designed with a circular, typebar arrangement, making it a blindwriter and which meant that typists could not see the text while in the act of typing. Two other interesting mechanisms included a ribbon that zig-zagged while typing and a hand-cranked brush that cleaned the typebars. Aside from the mechanical features, the model showcased nine Art Nouveau panels around its base.

Smith-Premier typewriters sold well enough that the Smiths exited the firearms business to concentrate exclusively on writing machines. They eventually erected factories in Syracuse, NY to support their booming business.

When the No.2 model was rolled out in 1896, among the changes between the first two models was the elimination of the No.1's Art Nouveau panels. The No.2 was instead adorned with simpler, gold and blue pinstripes.

About 15,000 units sold during the first two years and another 12,000 in the third, all domestically. Smith-Premier reported selling 150 of those typewriters to the U.S. government which the company framed as the largest purchase of typewriters by the government at the time. These figures came directly from the company so they may have been embellished to appear more market dominant. The Smith-Premier company also stated that they would have produced more typewriters had "...manufacturing capacity been equal to the demands." To accommodate such demands the already large factory was expanded another 60' x 130' making it the world's largest typewriter plant until Remington expanded.

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