The previous post on this blog pointed out the fact that early rebuilders tried very hard to make their products duplicative of the original factory product. One rebuilder, though, on occasion, did not. In fact, he went out of his way to eradicate the original name on machines altogether in some cases. That rebuilder was Harry A. Smith, of Chicago.
This 1916 ad for the “Smith Model Number 4” was highly deceptive in two very important ways. First, the machine offered for sale was originally manufactured by the Victor Typewriter Company as its No. 2. Just why Harry A. Smith chose to completely remove the original maker’s name from these (and some other) machines today remains a mystery. Certainly, desiring to get his own company’s name into the trade must have played a part – but why this didn’t seem unscrupulous to the point of impossibility to Smith or his company is just perplexing.
The second and much more problematic way in which the ad was deceptive was the fact that it never once mentioned that these superannuated machines were rebuilt by Smith’s company. We will see in later posts what this practice got Smith and others.
Collectors have long prized Harry A. Smith branded machines because they are today somewhat hard to find – he cannot have made that many of them, in any model. Also, Smith himself has been mentioned in a variety of the collector books published over the years (Rehr and Beeching to name two) so that there has been an awareness of his penchant for relabeling. What is certain though is that the practice was not on the up and up, and that no other rebuilder ever dared rebrand a machine.