Bargain Basement

Catalog unk early 1920s

The small catalog page reproduced above has no named source and no date, although we can guess the date at the early to mid-1920’s simply because of the appearance of the four bank Remington portable.  What is incredible are the prices being offered.

At this time the price of a brand new standard typewriter was generally in the $105-$120 bracket for the basic but full-featured models.  This ad presented some incredibly inexpensive machines – but look closely and you might see why.  Offered at just $15 was the completely obsolete Smith Premier No. 2, which entered production in 1896 and which had been out of production since 1914.  Another bargain was the No. 3 Oliver at just $17 – but again, this machine had been out of production for years (since 1907.)  The No. 9 Oliver was still in new OEM production and was offered at $26.

Already mentioned, but worth specifically pointing out is the fact that Remington portables were being factory rebuilt (as were Corona 3 portables, also shown on this catalog page.)  Most collectors will think “standard typewriter” when the factory rebuilding business comes up, but portables of popular makes, which could be had in large enough batches, were factory rebuilt and sold as well.  Certainly, this kind of ad broadens our perception today so long after the fact about what was being offered and when — and how long some machines remained in the ‘business cycle’ to be rebuilt and sold at bargain basement prices.


Rebuilt Retail

Today, so long after the fact, we tend to think of rebuilt typewriters as machines that were sold by mail order (to individuals or small offices), by catalogue or else by dealers who wished to either supplant a brand-new high-grade make or else compete with such makes.  It’s been largely forgotten that there were, many years ago, retail showrooms for factory rebuilt typewriters.

Young salesroom 1926 169 N Dearborn St Chicago

Above, we see a view of the inside of the Young Typewriter Company retail showroom in about 1926.  This retail store was located at 169 N. Dearborn St. in Chicago, and offered a complete line of nothing but “Young Process” rebuilt typewriters to the public.  This view comes from a Young trade catalogue in my collection.

Visible on the heavy island display tables in the center of the room are not only standard machines (such as the Underwood No. 3 near the front) but also two Corona No. 3 portables.  In other spaces of the store we can see other well-known standard makes such as L. C. Smith – but we can also see in the bottom of the near display table a Smith Premier No. 10.  Also, on the back wall at the top is a Hammond Multiplex. There appears to be a wide variety of machines in the cases, although it’s hard to identify all of them.  Identification notwithstanding, the view here helps to support the fact that almost any machine made in any real numbers was available somewhere, sometime as a factory rebuilt typewriter – and that you could walk right in off the street and not only see but try out such machines yourself in a long-ago time.