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Sterling Typewriter

Seemingly unable to reconcile with the failure of the Secretary/ Eagle and Defi, which I'm sure was blamed on the previous assignees rather than on the outdated design, another group of individuals formed another company and attempted to produce it again. So, in late 1910, the Sterling Typewriter Company had materialized and a new Sterling typewriter made its debut early next year. The new typewriter was actually identical to the old Defi except in name as seen in the image below. It would be fair to refer to it as the Sterling No.1 model though it was never officially advertised as such.

Sterling No.1 Typewriter

At about the same time as the new company was started, Paulson began updating the original design. Patent nos.1,025,204 and 1,050,997 were both filed by him in March of 1911, awarded in 1912 and '13, and assigned to the Sterling Typewriter Company. A more finessed No.2 model, like the one at the top of this page, was then introduced during the latter part of 1911. 

Both Sterling models were advertised for an amazingly low $25. In comparison, that's just about what the production cost of a Royal No.5 was except they were sold for $65. One has to wonder if such a razor thin profit margin was another factor in the Sterling's failure.

According to the October, 1923 issue of Typewriter Topics, the Sterling Typewriter Co. was formed in January of 1911, headquartered at 115 Broadway in NY, even though a double-page ad announcing the Sterling was published an earlier Typewriter Topics dated to November of 1910. All the same, on December 7, 1911 the company incorporated in Newark, NJ but most of the business, including that of the Sterling Sales Co., was conducted from 299 Broadway. Ads and reviews for the Sterling were published as late as 1913 with one ad dated to April 23rd in The Salem News, an Ohio newspaper, that was still advertising for agents. Just one month prior the Sterling typewriter was exhibited at the First Annual Philadelphia Business & Office Appliance Show though production had probably already ended during a few months before.


1910 - 1913

Sterling Typewriter Co.

New York, NY, U.S.


The Sterling typewriter was the final iteration of the failed Secretary/ Eagle and Defi lineage which was invented by Swedish-born Charles John Paulson (1864 - 19??). Paulson did not actually produce it, though. That was left to the parties Paulson assigned his original 1902 patents to, nos.703,082 and 727,552. Unfortunately they failed to generate any marketable success which probably should have been the end of the typewriter's story, but it wasn't.

Eagle Defi Sterling Typewirter Patent
Sterling Typewriter Patent
Sterling Typewriter

To me, it's so very peculiar just how similar the Sterling and its predecessors were to the Keystone. They all had a 3-row, double-shift keyboard, hammer & anvil, semi-circular type sector print element, ribbon spool inking and they all required the paper to be rolled into a reservoir behind the carriage prior to usage. They even had a similar footprint and were similar in size. Sterlings, however were able to produce more characters, 90 in total, from a Universal keyboard layout.

Sterling Typewriter Keyboard Layout

The Sterling No.2 on this page, serial numbered 3124, is the kind of a globetrotting cosmopolitan many of us aspire to be. After having been produced in New York it is unclear to whom or where it was sold, though, eventually, it made its way to Australia and into the Somlo collection. When that collection was auctioned off in 2013, the typewriter traveled back to the U.S. and landed in Cincinnati in the Polt collection. From there it traveled to Rome and into the Mantelli collection where it stayed until 2019. Now it rests here with me in Connecticut.

Comments? Have a Sterling Typewriter for sale? Please email me at or call +1 (860) 729-2252

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