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The Monarch Visible exposed

Monarch No. 1

Exposed: A Monarch No. 1.


My variation has variations

Variations in the Monarch line are extensive, especially among early models. These include labeling and feature changes in the No. 1 and No. 2 models. Accounting for these variations is not difficult. First, the Monarch was a “work in progress” — in other words, it was progressively improved during production. Second, it could be modified (apparently) by dealers after manufacture. A 1906 advertisement in a New Zealand paper boasts, “Each machine is fitted with a tabulator attachment.”1 Examining the internal workings of a basic-features model, one can see how certain functions — tabulator, backspace, and ribbon selector — could have been added, post-production.

Sorting through these variations, I’ve noticed certain patterns:

Faceplate — horizontal vs. curved labeling

The words “Monarch Visible” are displayed on the faceplate of most, though not all, No. 1 and No. 2 models. In some instances, the printing is curved; in other instances, horizontal. There appears to be some logic behind this labeling scheme: horizontal, and the machine lacks a ribbon selector; curved, and the machine includes one.

Monarch Visible No. 1 with ribbon selector

Curved label, machine includes ribbon selector (see upper, right corner).

Monarch Visible No. 2 without ribbon selectyor

Horizontal label, machine lacks ribbon selector.


When I first wrote about the Monarch typewriter, I noted that some models lacked tabulators.2 This may be true in some instances, but more often it is the backspace button that is missing. On those machines, the spot generally assigned for the backspace button is “rerouted” as the tab key. Such machines could otherwise incorporate a backspace button, as the frame includes guides for such an apparatus.

Here is a video of the Monarch No. 1 with backspace and without:

One machine, many options

That ribbon selector, tabulator, or backspace were optional features on early Monarchs seems incredible; after all, one would expect such functionality on an office machine. But so it was. Peering into a basic model, one notices mounting holes for such functions, which, presumably, could have been added afterwards by a dealer.

To note, by the development of the No. 3, such features came standard.


Monarch No. 1, basic model that lacks ribbon selector or backspace, though frame could accommodate such features.


Guide-hole for ribbon selector.


Another guide-hole.

Gradual improvements

On the earliest machines, rods for the tabulator and margin release did not follow mounted guides:


Margin release button attached to flattened rod that is not attached to internal mounting supports. Slot in faceplate keeps button in place.

Later, such rods were routed through guides incorporated in the frame of the machine:


On subsequent models, rods pass through guides in frame of machine.

Individual bearings to slotted segment

Will and Dave Davis explain how the Monarch was substantially modified from its early design to later designs under the Smith Premier label. (Visit the Davis YouTube page here; the blog, here.)

© 2014, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

  1. Free Lance, Volume VI, Issue 303, 21 April 1906, Page 14. []
  2. Monarch Visible No. 1 & Monarch Typewriter No. 3, Oct. 10, 2013. []
{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Richard P January 15, 2014, 1:18 am

    This looks fantastic. I am drained (sent 95 e-mails today) but will peruse this and compare it to my early Monarch when I have a little free time!

  • Rob Bowker January 15, 2014, 6:20 pm

    Given the drilled castings, it makes one wonder of the ribbon selector was available earlier as an upgrade?

  • Mark Adams January 15, 2014, 11:29 pm

    It’s difficult to imagine that Monarch manufactured different bodies/frames for models containing different features. (Yes, I am eager to hear about the insides of your machine, Richard – when you get a chance!) My guess is that the basic-features model was just a stripped down version of the standard model. Perhaps Monarch cut costs that way.

    Eventually, by the No. 3 model, Monarch dropped that pretense. After all, who wants an office machine that lacks backspace, ribbon selection, or tabulator, etc.? Doesn’t seem a good deal.

  • Steve Stephens March 17, 2015, 12:58 am

    Hi Mark,
    I recently bought a metal case for a Monarch Visible from a friend. I can send photos to you if you want to use them on your Monarch blog.
    Steve Stephens

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