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The first Brothers

Brother Valiant and Bradford Typewriters from 1961

Valiant machines

Brother Industries, a sewing machine company, entered the typewriter market in 1961, but soon, it was a dominant force, selling some 10 million typewriters by the 1980s, and tens of millions of manual and electric typewriters by the 1990s.1 Among collectors, the Brother is the least rare machine one can find. Yet, standing uniquely among the millions of these machines, are the very first Brothers: the Valiant, the Wizard Truetype2, and the Bradford, all of which were introduced late in 1961.

The machines in my collection have serial numbers of P111299 (the Valiant) and P149534 (the Bradford), indicating each was made sometime in 1961. I’ve also located a Wizard Truetype from that year; it’s serial number is P125018. The “P” prefix is unique in that it falls outside the normal numbering convention. You can read about Brother serial numbers at TypewriterDatabase.com. As these machines are the only ones displaying a “P” prefix, I surmise this designation applies only to machines manufactured in 1961.

The Valiant, the Wizard Truetype and the Bradford are the same machine — same color, same paper rest, same keyboard and typeface — and are early JP-1 or JP1-111 models (both designations were employed by Brother).3

Between 1961 and 1966,4 the Valiant was sold at the following stores:

  • Gambles (as early as Dec. 1961)
  • McMahans
  • Kroger
  • Buckeye Mart
  • King Soopers
  • Coast-to-Coast Stores
  • Montgomery Wards
  • Tempo
  • Cussins and Fearn Stores
  • Etc.

The Bradford was sold from 1961 and 1967,5 but exclusively at W.T. Grants, which employed “Bradford” as its unique mark. See post here.

The Wizard Truetype was sold from 1961 through at least 1974, at W.A. Family Stores and Western Auto, which appear to be the same company.6

In 1963, Montgomery Ward introduced its own line of Brothers under the Signature label. See here.

The period between 1961 and 1963 is unique in that Brother was only just establishing itself as a typewriter manufacturer. Its primary machine was an early version of the JP-1, which is easily identified by its wire paper rest. Sometime late in 1963 or early 1964, Brother introduced a different style of paper rest, a straight piece of metal that folded into the carriage. The last advertisements found for the Valiant date to mid-1966.

Patent Images

Akio Kondo applied for a patent for the Brother typewriter Dec. 19, 1960, one year prior to its introduction in America. The earliest Brothers display features found in the patent:

1960 Brother Patent Images - Akio Kondo

Sleek profile, dashboard faceplate, wire paper rest. The original patent can be viewed here.

The Valiant

1961 Brother Valiant Typewriter 0001

1961 Brother Valiant Typewriter 004

Distinctive nameplate with “dashboard” styling. The emblem is gold, but on other machines sometimes red or white.

1961 Brother Valiant Typewriter 003

Made in Japan, 1961. (Sorry, Munk, the dreaded “P” prefix again!)

1961 Brother Valiant Typewriter 001

Brother typewriters are sturdy. At just over 50 years old, this machine types well.

Ryan Adney displays a 1962 Valiant at TypewriterDatabase.com here.

Brother Valiant Typewriter JP1-121

A Japanese-language site designates this Valiant as a JP1-121. Notice that the wire paper rest is absent; in its place is a retractable metal paper rest. See site here.

The Bradford

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

This is a valiant machine, too.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

A budget machine, which likely sold for around $36.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Sans model number, simply “Bradford.”

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Brother label and serial number on the back of the machine.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Side profile of the Bradford.

Advertisements

Janesville Daily Gazette (Janesville, Wisconsin) Oct. 16, 1961

Brother originally manufactured sewing machines, and the various names of those products sometimes were applied to the various lines of its typewriters. From the Janesville Daily Gazette (Janesville, Wisconsin) Oct. 16, 1961.

Gambles - The Daily Republic (Mitchell, South Dakota) · Dec. 19, 1961

The earliest advertisement for a Brother typewriter dates to late 1961, the year Brother introduced its soon-to-become iconic machines to North America. The earliest retailers to market Brother machines seem to be Gambles and W.T. Grants. This ad was placed by Gambles. From The Daily Republic (Mitchell, South Dakota) Dec. 19, 1961.

McMahans - The Yuma Daily Sun (Yuma, Arizona) June 10, 1962

Placed by McMahans. Note the wire paper rest. From The Yuma Daily Sun (Yuma, Arizona) June 10, 1962.

The Bakersfield Californian (Bakersfield, California) Sept. 13, 1962

In 1963, Montgomery Ward would sell a Brother typewriter under the “Signature” label. But, initially, Wards sold the Brother Valiant. From the Bakersfield Californian (Bakersfield, California) Sept. 13, 1962.

1963 Bradford Advertisement for Grants

A Bradford, sold by W.T. Grants. From a 1963 advertisement. Note wire paper rest.

The Oregon Statesman (Salem, Oregon) Sept. 8, 1963

Grants “own” Bradford — just like everyone else’s! From the Oregon Statesman (Salem, Oregon) Sept. 8, 1963.

King Soopers - Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph (Colorado Springs, Colorado) Sept. 6, 1963

Hard to tell in this image, but soon Brother would drop the wire paper rest for a short metal paper rest. Placed by King Soopers in the Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph (Colorado Springs, Colorado) Sept. 6, 1963.

Ironwood Daily Globe (Ironwood, Michigan) Dec. 17, 1963

This is the more deluxe version of the Valiant, which is slightly larger and more fully featured. (See comments section below, not a Brother, though the store probably sold a Brother, just placed the wrong image in advertisement.) From the Ironwood Daily Globe (Ironwood, Michigan) Dec. 17, 1963.

The Fresno Bee The Republican (Fresno, California) Aug. 27, 1964

New paper rest. From the Fresno Bee The Republican (Fresno, California) Aug. 27, 1964.

The Post-Crescent (Appleton, Wisconsin) Nov. 18, 1964

1964 advertisement, probably using old clip art. From the Post-Crescent (Appleton, Wisconsin) Nov. 18, 1964.

The Sandusky Register (Sandusky, Ohio) Sept. 9, 1965

Advertisement placed by Cussins and Fearn Stores. From the Sandusky Register (Sandusky, Ohio) Sept. 9, 1965.

The Sedalia Democrat (Sedalia, Missouri) March 7, 1968

Brother Valiant? Look at the faceplate.

As seen at TypewriterDatabase.com –
Brother Valiant & Brother Bradford

Also seen…

“P”-class Brothers are not all that uncommon. Here are some other sighted machines:

  • Wizard Truetype, P116628 (last digits difficult to read)
  • Brother Valiant, P115167
  • P153626 (see comments section)
  • Wizard Truetype, C3214967, with wire paper rest

© 2014 – 2015, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

  1. Almost six million in its UK factory alone — http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-20391538 — though most were manufactured in Japan. []
  2. This model was not mentioned in the original draft, as I only lately located a Wizard Truetype that dates to 1961: P125018. I’ve not located any advertisements for the Wizard Truetype with a wire paper rest []
  3. Note the serial number on the Valiant, P111299, and the designation given by Brother here. []
  4. Date corrected. The wire paper rest version dates from 1961 to around 1963. The Valiant continued to sell until around 1966. []
  5. The last advertisement found dates to 1967: http://www.newspapers.com/clip/1262689//. []
  6. You can read about Western Auto here. []
{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Nick Bodemer November 7, 2014, 2:34 am

    The picture in the last ad is a Smith-Corona Galaxie, not a Brother. (Although it displays very similar styling.)

  • T. Munk November 7, 2014, 3:19 am

    Very nice!
    BTW, the typewriter shown in the last ad is an early 60’s SCM Galaxie. Not a Brother at all 😀

    • Mark Adams November 9, 2014, 2:15 am

      Munk, what do you make of the JP1-111 designation found here and here?

      • T. Munk November 9, 2014, 3:24 am

        I dunno. it seems clear that the model you have here (the first JP-1 iteration) is a JP-1-111 according to Brother, and there are many other iterations mentioned on the second page, but the Service and Parts manuals don’t seem to make mention of those designations.

  • Mark Adams November 7, 2014, 4:21 am

    Duly noted. It didn’t look right, but I’m still awaiting my new glasses!

  • Steve K November 7, 2014, 4:48 am

    Good stuff. Love the wire coat hangers on these early machines. 🙂

  • Nick November 7, 2014, 3:47 pm

    I just had to say “No wire hangers…ever”–except on Brother portables (Joan Crawford reference)

    • Mark Adams November 7, 2014, 4:30 pm

      There’s that famous episode where Crawford flips out at Buckeye Mart. Ugly.

  • Richard P November 9, 2014, 2:12 am

    Those early Brothers really are nicely styled little machines.

  • Mark Adams November 13, 2014, 12:02 am

    Note to all, this post has been updated with additional information — mainly dates — and I’ve added the Wizard Truetype to the list of first Brothers. (The “P” prefix again!)

    • T. Munk December 4, 2014, 6:35 pm

      That’s interesting that the mysterious “P” prefix seems to show up only on 1961 machines. Seems like by then, they’d have already standardized their month codes on sewing machines. I’ll go over this article again and update the Brother page with some things you’ve dug up (:

      Are you keeping a list of all the 3-digit sub-model codes you’ve found? (JP-111, JP-121, etc?) When you feel you have a handful or so of confirmed ones, let me know and I’ll add those as well in a special section. If nothing else, it seems to indicate a sort of order to the model production.

  • jason morton December 13, 2014, 4:00 pm

    hello I have just picked up a brother machine from a charity shop as my daughter wanted one I paid £1.50 the serial number is P153626 FOREIGN
    any I nfo on this machine please

    • Mark Adams December 13, 2014, 8:47 pm

      That’s an important find. Please send photo to netadams @ gmail. Also, try posting at TypewriterDatabase.com. I’ve never seen a foreign Brother from that year. Good find.

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