Harry A. Smith is, to historians, the best known single person associated with the field of rebuilt typewriters. Earlier collectors have seen to that – their books almost always mentioned Smith or showed some of the machines his companies rebuilt and rebranded into his own name, and to collectors of that earlier era these machines became highly desirable.
The Smith Visible No. 6 above is just one of a number of examples rebuilt and rebranded by Smith’s companies; originally a Rex Visible No. 4, the machine was sold by Smith Typewriter Sales in 1922 as that company’s No. 6 — a dubious numbering since various other completely different machines also went out the door carrying this number.
Smith himself has been well-documented on this writer’s blog articles over many years, and even sales materials from Smith’s companies have been obtained and continue to be shown here. What is new and exciting is this – a letter from Smith himself.
The letter, clearly dictated by “HAS” (Harry A. Smith) and signed by him, is dated June 25, 1920 and seeks to make contact with a Robert E. Coleman, through the connection of the Peacock Coal Co., Pomeroy, Ohio. It seems clear that Smith is trying to locate someone he had previously done business with and who may have stopped payment on a machine, although this letter quite professionally does not reveal Smith’s motive.
The letterhead itself will be of interest to collectors as it displays the emblem Smith created (or, had created) for his company and typewriters – a cut of a blacksmith at work in his shop. (That image is seen on the No. 6 shown earlier and enlarged from the letterhead below.)
The style of the centered name on the letterhead is also notable, and is seen here:
The style of lettering is similar to, but not identical to, that used for the name “Smith” on the Smith Visible No. 4 seen below, also in our collection here:
(The “Smith” usually used on Harry A. Smith paper tables appears to be a Smith Premier decal cut in half. The companies were completely, totally unrelated.)
Historically this newly found 1920 letter presents a couple of questions. The accepted historical date for Smith splitting up his companies is December 1919, with Harry A. Smith himself selling out his ownership of the rebuilt typewriter concern in April 1920. This letter is clearly dated June, and presents for the first time the notion that Smith himself continued in the day to day operation of the rebuilt company – already or soon, by that date, to be renamed “Smith Typewriter Sales Co.”
Of course the previous assumes that Smith is looking for a buyer who has ceased payment on a machine; if the Coleman in question was concerned somehow with the other Smith (post-split) firm, which retained the original company name and which shifted to attempted construction of the Blick Bar after that design was purchased by Smith, then the letter is less curious – although we’d wonder why Smith could not find a concerned party in that case.
Regardless of Smith’s search for Coleman what matters is that we have an original letter dictated by Smith himself, and signed by Smith himself, giving us an object that brings us historically closer than ever to this well known industry personage.