Thursday, September 4, 2014

100 Years Ago – L. C. Smith and Brothers Typewriter

Before Smith Corona became the name in typewriters, the L. C. Smith and Brothers Typewriter Company produced, well, typewriters.

L. C. Smith didn’t start out manufacturing business machines, though. In 1873 he opened a livestock commission business in New York which failed. Afterward he relocated to Syracuse and took a job as a clerk. Having recouped from the failure of his livestock business, Smith took another stab at entrepreneurism and started a lumber business – which also failed. Smith eventually joined with his older brother and firearms designer William H. Baker to produce shotguns in Syracuse, but L. C. maintained his run of bad luck and in 1880 his brother and Baker left the company to found the Ithaca Gun Company. L. C. continued manufacturing shotguns under the newly named L. C. Smith Shotgun Company, but Smith’s claim to fame would come in 1887 when he joined with L. C. Wilbert, L. Monroe, and H. W. Smith to form the Smith Premier Typewriter Company.
In November of 1904 the first L. C. Smith and Brothers typewriter (ironically the Model #2) shipped and by February 1905 Smith and Brothers typewriters were being sold to the New York Herald. L. C. wouldn’t live to see the 1958 merger of his company with Corona Typewriters Inc and the birth of Smith Corona, but he’d probably be happy to know that his typewriters changed the business landscape for decades to come.
This particular ad comes from the September 1914 issue of The Rotarian, probably obvious by the shameless appeal to Rotarian pride included in the advertising copy. The Measure of Worth booklet mentioned in the ad has eluded me so far, but I’ll put a few images up if I find a copy.

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