Were it not for a cache of letters recently discovered, history might have forgotten the still-obscure Galbreath Typewriter Co. business – surely one of the smaller, regional operations but one which did advertise off and on for over a decade.
This August 1926 letter advises the recipient that two ranges of machines were advertised on the enclosed flyer (which we’ll see in a moment) – “cheap” machines, which for rebuilders were older variants of established makes or else obsolete sorts, and “late up to date machines” which were either still in production or at least very recent. There’s no record which if any Mr. Mason ordered.
The letter above is signed by A. A. Galbreath, President of the Galbreath Typewriter Company. This operation’s roots go back as far as 1913 when the mail-order Carnegie College, of Rogers, Ohio began to advertise rebuilt machines through its Typewriter Department. Galbreath was President of this Carnegie College as well, which offered learn-by-mail courses in a wide variety of topics including but not limited to English, Engineering, Domestic Science, Poultry, Drawing, Real Estate and, probably unsurprisingly, “Type-writing.”
Asher A. Galbreath himself was born in Columbiana County Ohio in 1864, and among other things was at one time Mayor of the city of Rogers (from which the Carnegie College operated) and an Ohio Senator. Eventually one or more of his sons became involved in the college and typewriter operations.
A 1917 ad for rebuilt typewriters in Progressive Teacher and Southwestern School Journal gives the curious address of “Everette Galbreath, Rogers Ohio.” A 1918 ad has the orders sent to “Senator A. A. Galbreath, Carnegie College, Rogers Ohio.” Sometime after this, certainly by December 1919 the name Galbreath Typewriter Company came into use.
Above and below, advertising flyer in 1926 Galbreath Typewriter Co. letter.
The advertisement for Galbreath shows the usual spread of prices for machines, but it should be noted that the actual prices for the machines are slightly higher than the norm even at this time, although not by any means extravagant. There is clear evidence that Galbreath was rebuilding these machines it offered and not just distributing machines rebuilt by a larger national firm – the description of the company in its letterhead states “rebuilders, wholesalers and distributors.” The factory was located in Rogers, while General Offices were in Columbus.
In this case Galbreath Typewriter Co. did not offer any “store front” services that we know of, and did not repair or service machines. It appears as if Galbreath’s machines were mail order, just like the courses offered by the family run, affiliated college. The parallel between this operation and Victor, which made new typewriters and which was for most of its life owned by International Correspondence Schools, is interesting.
Obsolete machines are often a focus of the bargain basement class of rebuilt machines, and in this case the old Royal No. 5, the Oliver No. 5, the full keyboard Smith Premier No. 10 (a front strike) and the Hammond No. 12 stand out.
Galbreath disappears from the record before the time of the Great Depression, and it’s safe to say so did many other operations we might never know about. That said, we do have records and even brochures from a few other small operations throughout the years and you’ll see those all here on this site, eventually – so stay tuned for that. For now however it’s enough that we can add another name to the pantheon of rebuilt typewriter companies, which at this late date is something of an event in itself.