As the first decade of the last century hit its midpoint, the giant Union Typewriter conglomerate was making moves to keep up with the times. It created the wholly-owned Monarch Typewriter Company to introduce a visible writing machine (which appeared in 1904) and introduced visible machines of the other makes (Remington, Smith Premier and Yost) in 1908. Right between these two events, in 1906, the company made another move relevant to our discussions here: Union ended production of the well known Caligraph line of standard machines at the American Writing Machine Co. and converted that company (and its factory) into the rebuilding arm of Union. American’s rebuilt machines were on the market by 1907.
The advertisement above is from a few years later — it appeared in Literary Digest for January 9, 1915. It advertises “Factory Rebuilt, Guaranteed” Remington No. 10 machines for $48.75, which was less than half the price of a brand-new Remington standard machine. The purchaser simply had to send the coupon and a ‘deposit’ of $8.75, at which time the machine would be shipped. The payments were $5.00 monthly until the balance was paid off.
The rebuilding process was described to the prospective customer as follows:
“All the bright parts are nickeled over copper; the black parts are enameled by the same process as was used originally in enameling the machine. In reassembling (you understand, of course, that the machine has been entirely dismantled, cleaned, and inspected) every worn and defective part is discarded and new ones substituted. A new printing cylinder is put in as well and new feed rolls, paper finger rolls, ribbon and other perishable parts. An entire new keyboard is put on the machine and the striping and the lettering is all new. Our rigid inspection system permits the passing of none but machines that stand every test.
The guarantee we give with the machines (viz., one year) is the same as is given by the original manufacturer when the machine is brand new, and as we have been in the business of building new machines and rebuilding used ones for over thirty years and are now the largest concern of the kind in the world, you will appreciate the fact that our guarantee is worth something.”
To make sure the point gets across – the company was offering the No. 10 Remington at roughly half price, in brand new function and appearance and with exactly the same warranty / guarantee that the original machine had. The sensibility of considering such machines on the part of any office manager would be practically undeniable.
AWMCo. (as the company’s name was often abbreviated back then) was by the time of this 1915 ad doing a very solid business. The company not only had its original plant in New York engaged wholly in the affair, but also had in late 1911 announced that it would open a plant in Chicago and also open a plant in London, England. (According to trade reports the machinery for the London plant was manufactured in the United States and shipped over.) In January 1912 the company opened its plant in Chicago, to serve “Western regions” (think ‘West of the Mississippi’) and also opened a showroom at 437 Dearborn Street. (The company already had a showroom in New York City.)
Of course, in addition to mail order sales like that described by the ad shown above, the company also sold to dealers and export-import firms. Truly, the company had come into a place in the typewriter field it had not achieved when making new machines; factories in two major US cities and one overseas! Rebuilt typewriters were the thing American Writing Machine Co. needed to expand, and although today collectors remember it for the Caligraph they should be just as fast to remember its widely sold and successful rebuilt typewriters.