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The Monarch Noiseless 61

Remington Monarch Noiseless 61 Typewriter X207186

Variation on a theme

“Monarch Noiseless 61” is an uncommon name variant of the Remington Noiseless 6, which was likely marketed by the American Writing Machine Company, an organization that sold a variety of Remington products under the Monarch label in the 1930s. Apart from the machine featured in this post, only scant evidence for the Monarch Noiseless 61 exists.

In foreign markets, Remington sold the Noiseless 6 as the Smith Premier Noiseless 61, with both German (QWERTZ) and French (AZERTY) keyboards. Why Remington chose “61” instead of “6” is a mystery, but “61” appears on all extant variants of the Noiseless 6.

The old is king

Remington Monarch Noiseless 61 Typewriter X207186 pic 02Both “Monarch” and “American Writing Machine” are recycled names from past enterprises. Monarch was originally a satellite of the Union Typewriter Company (UTC), a trust established in the late 1800s, consolidating large parts of the typewriter industry. Executives at Remington generally controlled UTC.

The American Writing Machine Company was an independent company that manufactured the Caligraph. In 1893, it was one of several companies that formed the UTC, but, over time, Remington subsumed all of the trust’s assets and marks.

As near as I can tell, little has been written about the revitalized Monarch label or the reconstituted American Writing Machine Company, which continued as dealerships throughout the nation. How independently these stores functioned is uncertain: they appear to have sold principally Remington products or former trust brands.

Both Monarch and the American Writing Machine Company played important roles in Remington’s marketing efforts, especially during the Great Depression.

IMG_4287Only with difficulty was I able to locate possible mentions of the Monarch Noiseless 61 in advertisements for the American Writing Machine Company, adverts that reference both standard and portable typewriters, though only portable machines are depicted.

The serial number on my Noiseless 61 is X207186, following the convention for the Noiseless 6 and dating it to 1931. Unlike the Smith Premier models, the Noiseless 61 displays a QWERTY keyboard. It was sold, most likely, in the United States exclusively, as Remington generally held Smith Premier for foreign markets.

Typewriters to war!

While collectors may be unaware of standard Monarch noiseless typewriters, the U.S. government was not. During World War II, the army and navy sought donations of typewriters, specifying acceptable models — all standard machines, not portables. Included were the Monarch Noiseless No. 6 (the 61?) and the Monarch Noiseless No. 10.

From the Norwalk Hour, May 26, 1943, front page and continuation on back page.

“Send your typewriter to war.” From the Norwalk Hour, May 26, 1943, front page and continuation on back page.

Sinisterly soundless

IMG_0517I was struck by the Noiseless 61’s extraordinary beauty when I noticed it on ShopGoodwill.com some weeks ago. It’s absolutely gorgeous! But, hold your breath, it’s miserable to type on. Not that the Noiseless 61 is defective in any way… well, actually, it is… it doesn’t make any damn noise! Were I to attempt to write on this machine, I’d probably wreck it, pounding hard on its keys. I need the clickety-clack of a traditional typewriter!

The noiselessness of the noiseless annoyed many typists, including one columnist in 1929 who described the Noiseless 6 as “something sinister” —

There’s something mysterious about writing on a machine that doesn’t do the usual roaring and rattling and shaking about. Our old Underwood, in the sacred confines of our palatial office, gives a very good performance of a Chevrolet, starting on a cold morning to climb the Derry street hill, but this Remington Noiseless 6! We can’t get used to it; here we sit, banging away with a vigorous two digits in the hit and run system of typing we have always favored, and no sound other than a subdued click comes out of the machine. It’s not quite right; it smacks of something unholy, of something sinister. It’s like drinking your coffee out of the saucer without making a sound.

You can read the full column, which begins with a reference to a noise abatement effort, here:

From the Harrisburg Telegraph, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Nov. 16, 1929.

From the Harrisburg Telegraph, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Nov. 16, 1929.

For those of you who are wondering, though I won’t type on it, I have set it on display with my collection of Monarch visible typewriters. My 61 might not make a sound, but it will be seen.

Photos

Remington Monarch Noiseless 61 Typewriter X207186 pic 04

Remington Monarch Noiseless 61 Typewriter X207186 pic 05

Remington Monarch Noiseless 61 Typewriter X207186 pic 06

Remington Monarch Noiseless 61 Typewriter X207186 pic 09

Remington Monarch Noiseless 61 Typewriter X207186 pic 08

Remington Monarch Noiseless 61 Typewriter X207186 pic 07

Closeup of label on rear of machine. The white lettering is not an effect of lighting, but a slight discoloration of the lettering.

Closeup of label on rear of machine. The white lettering is not an effect of lighting, but a slight discoloration of the lettering.

Remington Monarch Noiseless 61 Typewriter X207186 closeup

Closeup of the front face and some control element.

Remington Monarch Noiseless 61 Typewriter X207186 number

This number is stamped into the underside of the frame (mold number?). A “2” (not pictured) is also stamped on the same piece.

Remington Monarch Noiseless 61 Typewriter X207186 pic 03

The mainspring and draw band.

As seen at TypewriterDatabase.com.

See the Noiseless 6 in action here.

Advertisements

From the Cincinnati Enquirer, Sept. 8, 1935.

This advertisement references office and portable noiseless Monarchs. From the Cincinnati Enquirer, Sept. 8, 1935.

From the The Pittsburgh Press Nov. 15, 1935.

This advertisement references standard and portable noiseless Monarchs. From the The Pittsburgh Press Nov. 15, 1935.

This "boilerplate" -- advertising disguised as a news story -- mentions both portable and standard Monarch noiseless typewriters. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jan. 17, 1938.

This “boilerplate” — advertising disguised as a news story — mentions both portable and standard Monarch noiseless typewriters. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jan. 17, 1938.

Smith Premier variants

A Smith Premier Noiseless 61 with QWERTZ keyboard, as seen at Retro Tech.

A Smith Premier Noiseless 61 with QWERTZ keyboard, as seen at Retro Tech Geneva.

Another Smith Premier Noiseless 61, which was offered some time ago on the now-defunct auction site Loquo. Unknown keyboard arrangement.

Another Smith Premier Noiseless 61, which was offered some time ago on the now-defunct auction site Loquo. Unknown keyboard arrangement.

Backside of the same machine above.

Backside of the same machine above.

A Smith Premier Noiseless 61 with AZERTY (French) keyboard.

A Smith Premier Noiseless 61 with AZERTY (French) keyboard.

Another with extra keys.

Another with extra keys, but not labeled 61, unless those globs of color on either side of the faceplate contain the model designation.

© 2016, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

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The Brother Typemaster

Brother Typemaster L5898557 pic 01

What’s in a name?

Quick. Think up a good name for a typewriter. OK, how many of you came up with Typemaster? Well, apparently so did Underwood, Brother, and Lanier. “Typemaster” first appeared in 1937 on Underwood portables, continuing through the 1970s, and also on a series of Brother typewriters sold at Goldblatt’s in the 1960s. It reappeared again in the 1980s on a series of Lanier personal computers. Who actually owned “Typemaster” as a trademark is uncertain.

The Typemaster that occupies a spot in my collection is a hefty Brother portable that Goldblatt’s boldly advertised as lightweight — “weighs only 12 pounds.” The lid by itself tips the scales at slightly over two and a half pounds, which is heavier, for comparison’s sake, than Apple’s 11″ MacBook Air. Still, the Typemaster is a sturdy machine.

Photos

Brother Typemaster L5898557 with cover

Brother Typemaster L5898557 type sample

Brother Typemaster L5898557 serial number

Brother Typemaster L5898557 pic 2

Typemasters in advertisements

Three manufactuers claimed the Typemaster name, but Underwood was the first —

Underwood’s machine:
Found on Newspapers.com

Found on Newspapers.com

An advertisement for the Underwood Typemaster also appears in 1971.

Found on Newspapers.com

DrTypewriter’s Typemaster (fascinating views):

Here’s an Underwood Typemaster modified:

Brother’s machine:
August 29, 1965. Found on Newspapers.com

October 26, 1965. Found on Newspapers.com

December 12, 1965. Found on Newspapers.com

Lanier’s Type-Master/TypeMaster/Typemaster (whatever…):
Found on Newspapers.com

Found on Newspapers.com

Found on Newspapers.com

Found on Newspapers.com

My machine, as seen at TypewriterDatabase.com.

© 2016, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

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It’s pronounced “Mollie”

Molle Typewriter 1373 machine

Hello Mollie!

Collectors have long wondered how to pronounce “Molle,” the name of a highly sought-after typewriter that was sold from the late 1910s through the early 1920s. Only about 7,000 were ever manufactured, so it is a rare machine of sorts. An advertisement from 1922 answers the question about the name: it’s pronounced “Mollie,” as in a woman’s name. But this begs another inquiry. Why did the manufacturer feel compelled to answer the question? Who was asking it? Why was it being asked?

Molle Pronounced Mollie

Advertisement from the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisconsin), March 11, 1922.

Certainly, manufacturers want customers to know the names of their products. In the age of the internet, sometimes it’s the spelling that’s problematic (e.g., customers hearing “zero” should type “xero” for the web address), and sometimes it’s the sound (e.g., “Hyundai” is pronounced “hun-day” — see video here). Knowing how to pronounce (or type) a name increases brand recognition. All companies want that.

But with Molle, one suspects additional reasons.

German ancestry and WWI

The Molle Typewriter Company was started by John E. Molle, a watch and jewelry repairman whose family had emigrated from Germany in the mid-1800s. As the Typewriter Museum describes, “He found himself confronted regularly with clients asking him to repair typewriters. Being the only repairman for 100 miles around, Molle handled quite a few of them. He was frustrated by their complicated designs and finally set out to produce a machine of his own.”1 Molle’s solution was a series of designs that greatly simplified the internal workings of a typewriter.

Robert Messenger at oz.Typewriter offers an essential biography of John Molle and the company here. The short version is that the Molle Typewriter Company really launched, struggling at every turn and missing by a wide margin any opportunity to establish itself as a leading manufacturer. Richard Polt offers further insight into Molle’s troubles here.

John Molle’s German ancestry (or the ethnic cast of the Oshkosh community) might also have caused difficulties, particularly during the Great War and subsequent peace. However “Molle” was actually pronounced (“Mollie” is common in the U.S.; “Mull… -uh” elsewhere),2 consumers may have been inclined to hear Molle as having a distinctly Germanic feel. One also observes that advertisements for the Molle typewriter work hard to establish the company’s patriotism.

In a poignant 1919 advertisement (presented also below), the Molle Typewriter Company wrote, “In September, 1918, we closed a contract with the War Department for twenty-five machines for immediate delivery, with two-hundred and fifty more to follow in sixty days. Then when we were asking for priority orders, we pledged 100% of our out-put to the Government during the period of the war. (Estimated by the War Department to between five and ten thousand machines for 1919). This was on September 12th, 1918. Two months later the Armistice was signed, we were all very glad the war was ended. However, we lost the Government work and backing we had while the war continued.”

The company continued its narrative describing that it would direct its efforts — almost as service to humanity — to international markets, realizing that the destructive war increased the need for peace-time goods such as typewriters. Granted, many companies emphasize service to community, but Molle seemed pressed to demonstrate its fidelity. A sampling of advertisements illustrates this point.

A product and an idea

Molle Advertisement Supporting War Effort

All manufacturers supported the war effort in their advertisements, but generally to sell its machines (or at least keep the company’s name at the fore). With Molle, one senses more was at stake. Molle isn’t selling itself, but the idea of America, and in profoundly religious terms. From the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Sept. 26, 1918.

Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Feb. 13, 1919

Again, Molle seems eager to demonstrate its patriotism, reprinting communications between itself and the government. Note that the final word in the advertisement is that a Molle contract would result in a weekly payroll of $10,000, thus supporting the community. (It should be noted that Molle was very “public” about its doings, often publishing company documents in advertisements, assuring investors that Molle was a thriving enterprise.) From the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Feb. 13, 1919.

Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Feb. 1, 1919

In these endorsements Molle is twice placed in quotation marks. Also, the correct pronunciation, “Mollie” is offered in the second endorsement. The company name was often presented in quotation marks in advertisements, as if for emphasis, but more assiduously than other typewriter manufactuer’s advertisements. From the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Feb. 1, 1919.

The end of the war meant the cancelling of a large government contract.

The end of the war meant the cancelling of a large government contract. Writes Molle, “We were all very glad the war was ended,” though it meant a loss of business. This advertisement was mentioned above. From the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Oct. 28, 1919.

From the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, April 26, 1920.

In the post-war years, Oshkosh needed cheering up! Collectors will find the figures presented in this advertisement important. From the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, April 26, 1920.

Though the company was no longer a going concern, its machines were still offered by various retailers. This advertisement emphasizes that a

Though the company was no longer a going concern, its machines were still offered by various retailers. This advertisement emphasizes that a “Standard American Keyboard” was available, alongside Greek, French, German and Polish keyboards. From the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, March 10, 1923.

No longer a Molle, now a Liberty. Collectors will be interested to know that Liberties were being sold as late as 1926! From the Dixon Evening Telegraph, Dixon, Illinois, May 24, 1926.

No longer Molle, now Liberty. Collectors will be interested to know that Liberties were being sold as late as 1926! According to the advertisement, these machines were not rebuilts. From the Dixon Evening Telegraph, Dixon, Illinois, May 24, 1926.

Notes for collectors

Because of its history — its rise and fall, its struggles — the Molle is among my favorite typewriters. Much of its story is still being told, and in that spirit, I offer the following notes:

Labeling iterations:
The Molle No. 3 was unchanged throughout its run, except for its labels. Here are the iterations:

  • On the earliest machines, the words “OSHKOSH, WISCONSON” are printed on the base of the machine below the company’s name, as in many advertisements. “Molle” is printed on the paper table.
  • Subsequently, the words “OSHKOSH, WIS., U.S. of A.” are printed on the base of the machine. Also, an emblem appears on the paper table adjacent “Molle”. The emblem displays a “T” superimposed upon an “M,” creating the “MT” logo which presumably stands for “Molle Typewriter.” These machines are rare.
  • After a brief run the emblem disappears (too Germanic?). The words “OSHKOSH, WIS., U.S. of A.” remain.
  • The Liberty maintains a similar design, but displays the words “CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, U.S. of A” on the base and “Liberty” on the paper table. Same paint scheme and lettering style. Also marked No. 3.

Serial numbers:
It is frequently stated that only around 50 Molles are extant today, offered by the Typewriter Museum on its John Molle page here. This research, however, dates to 2000. Since then, many machines have been sighted — I have observed dozens of Molles — and though my notes are somewhat incomplete, I have collected serial numbers for some 30 or so machines. My list can be viewed on this Google sheet and below.

The list (sans notes; see link for notes and updates):

Ser. No. Color
Paper Table
Base Text Keyboard
1055 Black
Standard
Not visible in photo unknown
1160 Black
Standard
OSHKOSH, WISCONSON QWERTY
1373 Black
Standard
OSHKOSH, WISCONSON QWERTY w/ foriegn keys
1800 Black
Emblem
OSHKOSH, WIS., U.S.of A. QWERTY
2539 Black
Emblem
OSHKOSH, WIS., U.S.of A. QWERTY w/ $
2590 Black
Emblem
OSHKOSH, WIS., U.S.of A. QWERTY w/ $
3013 Black
Standard
OSHKOSH, WIS., U.S.of A. AZERTY
3907 Black
Standard
OSHKOSH, WIS., U.S.of A. QWERTY w/ $
4177 Black
Standard
OSHKOSH, WIS., U.S.of A. QWERTY w/ £
4240 Black
Standard
OSHKOSH, WIS., U.S.of A. QWERTY w/ £
4450 Black
Standard
OSHKOSH, WIS., U.S.of A. unknown
4473 Black
Standard
OSHKOSH, WIS., U.S.of A. QWERTY
4756 Black
None
OSHKOSH, WIS., U.S.of A. QWERTY
4827 Black
Standard
OSHKOSH, WIS., U.S.of A. unknown
4905 Black
Standard
OSHKOSH, WIS., U.S.of A. QWERTY w/ £
4994 Black
Standard
OSHKOSH, WIS., U.S.of A. QWERTY
5509 Black
Standard
OSHKOSH, WIS., U.S.of A. QWERTY
5571 Black
Standard
OSHKOSH, WIS., U.S.of A. QWERTY w/ $
6065 White
Standard
OSHKOSH, WIS., U.S.of A. unknown
6394 Black
Standard
OSHKOSH, WIS., U.S.of A. QWERTY
6545 Black
Standard
OSHKOSH, WIS., U.S.of A. QWERTY (Spanish)
6827 Black
Standard
OSHKOSH, WIS., U.S.of A. QWERTY
7464 Black
Standard
OSHKOSH, WIS., U.S.of A. QWERTY w/ $
7728 Black
Standard
OSHKOSH, WIS., U.S.of A. QWERTY w/ $ and tilde
7857 Black
Standard
OSHKOSH, WIS., U.S.of A. QWERTY w/ $
7865 Black
Standard
OSHKOSH, WIS., U.S.of A. QWERTY w/ $
unknown Black
Standard
CHICAGO, ILL., U.S. of A. QWERTY w/ $
unknown Black
Emblem
OSHKOSH, WIS., U.S.of A. Greek Keyboard
unknown Black
unknown
OSHKOSH, WISCONSON unknown
unknown White
Standard
OSHKOSH, WIS., U.S.of A. QWERTY w/ $
unknown Black
Standard
CHICAGO, ILL., U.S. of A. unknown

NB: Machine 4240 was offered with paperwork dating to 1921, perhaps suggesting a timeline.

For production figures, see Will Davis’ page here. My research does not greatly expand on his observations, and I too note that Molles below 1000 and much above 7800 have not been sighted. (It would be interesting to know the serial numbers on the few extant Liberty machines, though.)

Keyboards

A wide variety of keyboard arrangements illustrates Molle’s international aims. One also senses that Molle was intended for multi-lingual consumers: it’s often in American newspapers that foreign-language keyboards are mentioned. Several advertisements also boast of a “universal” keyboard. QWERTY keyboard arrangements with tildes and foreign characters and accents are not uncommon.

Known arrangements:

  • English (QWERTY w/ $ sign, AND w/ or w/o foreign characters)
  • English (QWERTY w/ £ sign)
  • French (AZERTY)
  • German (not observed by this author, but listed in advertisements)
  • Polish (also not observed, but listed)
  • Spanish (QWERTY w/ tilde only key OR w/ Spanish accents and “n” with tilde)
  • Greek (see specimum here)

The “universal” keyboard may be the QWERTY w/ foreign characters and accents.

My machine (1373) is pictured at the top of this post, and it is listed at TypewriterDatabase.com. Yours should be too!

© 2016, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

  1. John E. Molle (1876-1921), Typewriter Museum. []
  2. I’ve made inquiries of my German friends, who suggest a variety of pronunciations. This website offeres two that I’ve heard: http://www.pronouncenames.com/pronounce/molle. []
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