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)
- Buckeye Mart
- King Soopers
- Coast-to-Coast Stores
- Montgomery Wards
- Cussins and Fearn Stores
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.
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:
Ryan Adney displays a 1962 Valiant at TypewriterDatabase.com here.
As seen at TypewriterDatabase.com –
Brother Valiant & Brother Bradford
“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.
- Almost six million in its UK factory alone — http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-20391538 — though most were manufactured in Japan. [↩]
- 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 [↩]
- Note the serial number on the Valiant, P111299, and the designation given by Brother here. [↩]
- Date corrected. The wire paper rest version dates from 1961 to around 1963. The Valiant continued to sell until around 1966. [↩]
- The last advertisement found dates to 1967: http://www.newspapers.com/clip/1262689//. [↩]
- You can read about Western Auto here. [↩]
The picture in the last ad is a Smith-Corona Galaxie, not a Brother. (Although it displays very similar styling.)
BTW, the typewriter shown in the last ad is an early 60’s SCM Galaxie. Not a Brother at all 😀
Munk, what do you make of the JP1-111 designation found here and here?
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.
Duly noted. It didn’t look right, but I’m still awaiting my new glasses!
Good stuff. Love the wire coat hangers on these early machines. 🙂
I just had to say “No wire hangers…ever”–except on Brother portables (Joan Crawford reference)
There’s that famous episode where Crawford flips out at Buckeye Mart. Ugly.
Those early Brothers really are nicely styled little machines.
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!)
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.
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
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.
Just bought a Brother JP-1 (no other branding on it except for BROTHER in capital letters on the front panel) with a serial number R265930 FOREIGN (Brother Industries, Ltd.). There is no “R” prefix on the typewriterdatabase.com information for Brother typewriters. Any ideas as to dating this machine? Thanks!
This is an interesting find. The definitive source for serial numbers is indeed the Typewriter Database, but the “R” prefix and “FOREIGN” are entirely new details. What is the keyboard arrangement? Are there any special keys? The “Brother” label, if I recall correctly, was a generic name for machines not labeled for specific retailers. If you post your machine to the database, please post the link here too. Very interesting find.