According to sources cited by TypewriterDatabase.com, the first two models of the Monarch Visible were manufactured between 1904 and 1905.1 A slew of early advertisements, however, indicates the No. 1 might have been offered a full year before the No. 2. Whether or not this is the case, one can only conjecture, but it does make for a unique study. When precisely did Monarch roll out the various models of its visible typewriter, and how accurately can collectors date their machines?
The essential difference between the No. 1 and No. 2 is the keyboard: the No. 1 has a 38-key layout and the No. 2 a 42-key layout. The No. 3, the final machine in the Monarch line, was introduced in 1906. The differences between that machine and the No. 2 are not particularly self-evident, especially as certain features — back space, tabulator, ribbon selector, etc. — were optional on most models. The keyboard appears to be the main factor.
Eventually, the No. 3 would be relabeled as a Remington machine, marking the end of Monarch as a distinguishable company. To note, Monarch was a subsidiary of the Union Typewriter Company, a typewriter trust that was largely controlled by Remington.2 It was never a truly independent company, which sometimes obscures its history.
TypewriterDatabase.com reports that production of the first two models began in 1904, and that serial numbers peaked at 2,000. Serial numbers peaked at 4,500 the second year. The site records that the No. 3 was introduced in 1906. Serial numbers for that model peak at 120,000 by 1914.
Surveying machines found in people’s collections, it seems the first three models were developed concurrently. In fact, the serial numbers on most No. 1s and 2s exceed 4,500. Therefore, it can be supposed that production of these models ran well beyond 1906, and as late as 1912. This seems odd, given that differences between the No. 2 and 3 are minimal; nevertheless, it seems all Monarchs were sold concurrently.
Consider the following: the serial number on Will Davis’ No. 2, 66988, is considerably greater than that of a No. 3 held in the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia, which is 21134.3 Why these machines would be sold concurrently is unknown, but there it is.
Problematically, these various models were not advertised concurrently. Images of the No. 1 appear in advertisements from 1905 to 1907 (though only sporadically after 1905). Images of the No. 2 only appear from 1906 to 1908. Images of the No. 3 do not appear until 1911. (A classified ad The Washington Post, Jan. 8, 1910, lists the No. 3 as “the very latest model” — but this is likely a second hand model.)4 In 1909, most advertising for the Monarch was placed in classified sections, without reference to model numbers; however, I have not searched the text of those advertisements closely.
Not infrequently, the Monarch was simply advertised as the “Monarch Visible,” without reference to model. This indifference suggests advertising might not be a reliable source for determining the production cycle of this line of typewriters. Also, advertisements never indicate essential differences between the models.
The last point is further complicated by the fact that even within a model, features vary. Based on claims made in advertisements, it appears that dealers could modify the machine to suit consumers’ needs, adding tabulators, backspace keys, and ribbon selectors (see notes here). The Monarch line was not standardized until late into the production cycle of the No. 3.
Evidence from a sparse collection of news stories paints yet another picture. An article in The Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York), July 30, 1904, states the Monarch factory would open in August that year, yielding 25 machines per month.5 If true, there is no way that 2,000 machines were manufactured in the first year. This doesn’t mean that numbering began at zero, but, as collector Richard Polt has a machine with a serial number of 437 (on a No. 2), it must have begun quite low.
Based on news reports, production on the Monarch Visible began very late in 1904, and the first Monarch was offered for sale in January, 1905.
And that’s when the advertising cycle begins —
Monarch No. 1 advertisements
Images of the Monarch No. 1 continued to be featured in advertisements as late as 1907.
Monarch No. 2 advertisements
I have not attempted to copy every advertisement for the No. 2, but only the earliest. Interestingly enough, Monarch seems to have recycled images from earlier advertisements, featuring the No. 1. Notice that the typewriters below have a 38-key layout — the No. 2 has a 42-key layout. That Monarch should have recycled older images is not surprising, given that few consumers would ever notice and it would have been easier to simply recycle older images than create new ones.
Images of the No. 2 are displayed as late as 1908.
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