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A very early Remington Portable, ser. no. NA00259

Remington Portable No 1 NA00259 photo 01 tw

This is the earliest known Remington Portable, dating to December 1920, the first year of production for this typewriter. Advertisements for the Remington Portable first appeared in January 1921, with sales slowly increasing as the year progressed.

I’ve only seen two other specimens dating to 1920, including one in Thomas Russo’s collection (NA000261), which is featured on p. 52 of his book, Mechanical Typewriters (2002). His machine has platen prongs which were used to hold small labels in place (thus making it the earliest Remington to display this feature). The other sighted machine (NA00346) appeared on eBay some months ago. Interestingly, the Remington logo on that machine is scratched out, as is the logo on mine, as if to unmark these machines for sale. Russo’s machine is pristine.

It’s noteworthy that the serial numbers on these machines are clustered sequentially. Though the prefix “NA” designates a December production date, one wonders if in the first year the “NA” prefix designates any machine from that year. The Remington Portable first appeared in Typewriter Topics in 1920, displaying a letter showing a date of August 1920, around when tooling for the Remington Portable was completed. Remington must have spent some period of time amassing a supply of these machines. It is possible, however, that production only began in December.

Remington Portable No 1 NA00259 photo tw Remington Portable No 1 NA00259 photo 07 tw Remington Portable No 1 NA00259 photo 03 serial number Remington Portable No 1 NA00259 photo 04

Image and detail from Typewriter Topics, 1920:

1920 Remington Portable in Typewriter Topics - August machine Remington from TT 1920

As seen at TypewriterDatabase.com.

© 2016, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Richard P July 15, 2016, 8:02 pm

    A historic machine. That’s very odd about the scratched-out logo.

  • RobertG July 16, 2016, 2:21 pm

    That’s neat to see! That is probably the advert and machine that created the Corona Four. Probably gave them a bit of a jump in the Corona offices, that machine, it should have anyways 🙂

    Was the type number done after painting? Could be that the deliveries started in December, all machines stamped then. (These could then be the very first batch.)

    The scratched logo indeed is odd – did that have significance for the company? Maybe thinking it should’ve had a Portable in the seal?

    Still impresses with its compact design, basically cramming a Remington Standard 10 into a small drawer!

    • Mark Adams July 16, 2016, 6:16 pm

      NA0* and NP1* machines were stamped after being painted. On subsequent machines the area around the serial number is unpainted. Some time later, Remington shifted the serial number from the internal structure of the typewriter to its base, the serial number being stamped afterwards.

      Yes, it is possible that these were manufactured in batches and stamped afterwards.

  • T. Munk July 17, 2016, 2:58 am

    Nice.. As you say, the machines could have been made from Aug to Dec 1920 to “stock up for Christmas release”, and all that backlog been given serial numbers in December. Yet another interesting indication that serial numbers aren’t always particularly indicative of manufacture date as much as they are of distribution date. Perhaps at least early machines may have been serial numbered as they entered the distribution channel.

  • Steve K July 18, 2016, 4:46 am

    I like the keytops. Is that random discoloration? Looks good to me though.

  • shordzi July 20, 2016, 5:27 am

    Very interesting, thank you.

  • Heather Haylock May 4, 2022, 5:46 am

    Do you know why some of the keys have gone a rusty colour?

    • Mark Adams May 4, 2022, 5:23 pm

      My best guess is that the discoloration is caused by light (sunlight?) damage. It’s pretty common on early Remington portables.

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