If you know the meanings of Smith-Corona's serial number prefixes, you can use the first two characters to quickly identify the general product line and era of manufacture. This can be especially helpful in identifying rebadged typewriters sold by department stores under different make and model names. For instance, a J.C. Penny's Penncrest with serial number prefix P6S is based on Smith-Corona's Galaxie-class Sterling ("P" indicates that it was a model designated for J.C. Penny's resale).
The leading number indicates the typewriter's chassis--its body style and basic mechanical family. The letter tells you what model line the typewriter belongs to. The model is mostly a set of features, though these can vary across the years. A Sterling from the early '60s has a vastly different configuration than a 1930s Sterling. Likewise, you can find a chassis hiding in an unlikely shell (see my Super-5-based Sears Citation 12 for an example). Use the model family along with the chassis family to get the complete picture of what you're dealing with.
Everything you see here is generally speaking. Nothing in the typewriter manufacturing world was ever hard and fast. You will come across exceptions to everything below, and machines made for catalog resale also often added or dropped a minor feature or two. This quick-reference is meant to give one a starting point to identifying an unlabeled or rebranded Smith-Corona typewriter. See the Typewriter Serial Number Database for more detailed information, though it, too, is not 100% accurate.
1A = Sterling 1934 - 1941 (Flattop)
1C = Standard 1935 - 1941 (Flattop)
1F = Four Improved 1934 - 1935, Junior 1935 - 1940
1J = Junior 1934 - 1935
1S = Silent 1934 - 1938 (Flattop)
1Y = Zephyr DeLuxe 1938 - 1941
1Z = Zephyr 1938 - 1941
2A = Sterling 1938 - 1941 (from here, Speedline)
2C = Standard 1938 - 1941 (from here, Speedline)
2S = Silent 1939 - 1940 (from here, Speedline)
2Y = Skyriter 1949 - 1953* (tan with stripes and 2-tone green keys)
3A = Sterling 1940 - 1945
3C = Standard 1940 - 1945
3S = Silent 1941 - 1944
3Y = Skyriter 1956 - 1960 (uniform tan with uniform green keys; later keys may also be white)
4A = Sterling 1945 - 1949
4C = Standard 1945 - 1948, Clipper 1949 (TW-DB says 1949, but I've seen a 4C Clipper as early as 1947)
4S = Silent 1945 - 1949
4Y = Skyriter 1960-1962 (British-made, silver with white keys)
5A = Sterling 1949 - 1959 (Super-5)
5C = Clipper 1949 - 1962 (Super-5)
5S = Silent 1949 - 1958 (Super-5)
5T = Super 1953 - 1961, Silent-Super 1958 - 1959, Electric 1958 - 1962**
6S = Sterling (Galaxie body)
6T = Galaxie 1959 - 1962
* End date of 1953 is according to Beeching. TW-DB lists end date as 1959. 3Y production doesn't begin until 1956, so 1956 may be the accurate 2Y end date.
**5LE is the same typewriter with 12" carriage; "T" dropped for some reason
List does not include original Four design, because there was no real coherence to its many prefixes. Very little definite information is available for later Galaxie-class models.
Return to Machines of Loving Grace