Harry A. Smith

advertising gallery

Harry A. Smith is probably the best known of the many typewriter rebuilders and resellers that existed in the first half of the 20th Century. He did not manufacture typewriters, though he did occasionally rebrand other makers' models with his own name.

These ads are intended to give an idea of the wide range of machines Smith dealt in, as well as a rough chronology of when he was selling certain models and the addresses of his company. It is by no means a comprehensive collection of the many, many ads Smith ran over two decades, just a sampling. Most of the images are from Google Books.

Based on the addresses used in his ads and other dated materials, we have the following chronology:

No.180, N Dearborn St, Chicago:
Robbins Bldg, Chicago:
231 N 5th Ave, Chicago
218 N Wells St, Chicago
1022 Bower St., Elkhart, IN
1st Nat. Bank Bldg, Chicago
230 E Ohio St, Chicago
360 E Grand Ave, Chicago
469 E Ohio St, Chicago

1911 - c.Mar, 1914
May, 1914 - June, 1914 (Poss @ 201 N Wells St. May have been a transitional office.)
June, 1914 - July, 1918
Aug, 1918 - at least Feb, 1923
by Feb, 1922 (selling check protectors)
by Apr, 1922 - May, 1922 (as Annell Typewriter Co.)
May, 1922 - at least Jan, 1923 (as Annell Typewriter Co.)
~May 1923 - Feb, 1929
Mar, 1929 - at least Feb, 1931

An early ad from the June, 1912 issue of The Expositor.


L.C. Smith No.2. Sante Fe Magazine, March, 1915. Note the mention of a telegraphers' keyboard. Ads in medical journals touted pharmaceutical keyboards.


Remington Standard No.10. Railway Carmen's Journal, Nov, 1916. If you read the fine print, you will see the word "reconstructed". This alone would not be enough to later keep Smith out of trouble for deceptive advertising.


Underwood No.3. The Biblical World, Jan, 1917.


L.C. Smith No.5. Popular Mechanics, Feb, 1917.

Smith often added a little note down at the bottom of the coupon so he could keep track of which publications were generating responses. Simply good business practice. The room numbers of the various reply addresses changed frequently, and I've wondered whether this wasn't in fact a code system to help Smith track the origins of his reply coupons. I haven't taken the time to fully analyze them for a pattern.

One year later, in Feb, 1918, Smith was one of several typewriter resellers cited by the Federal Trade Commission for ""Stifling and suppressing competition in the sale of typewriters by publishing and causing to be published false and misleading advertisements designed and calcuclated to cause customers and prospective customers to believe that the repaired and rebuilt typewriters of standard makes offered for sale at a price of less than one-half of that charged by the makers of such machines are new typewriters in alleged violation of section 5 of the Federal Trade commission act." Smith responded with an admission of guilt and in May was ordered by the FTC to change his advertising practices. It was a relative slap on the wrist. As you can see below, the wording of his ads did not immediately change significantly.

Tiny ad depicting a Victor of indeterminate model. Popular Mechanics, Nov, 1918.

Victor No.3 rebranded as the Harry A. Smith No.12. Railroad Telegrapher, March, 1919. This model was previously marketed as the Harry A. Smith No.6.

National No.3. Popular Mechanics, Dec, 1919. The National has been found rebranded as the Harry A. Smith No.5.


Smith Premier No.10. Railroad Telegrapher, March, 1919.

In late 1920, the Harry A. Smith Typewriter Co either changed its name to the Smith Typewriter Sales Co. This probably happened in conjunction with the company entering receivership, as reported by Iron Age in 1921. According to the magazine, "The company's business has been has been affected by the high rate of exchange, as its trade was almost all with foreign countries." By this time, Smith was living in Elkhart, Indiana, where he attempted to keep one foot in the office machine business by reselling check protectors, as seen in this 1922 ad:

Popular Mechanics, Feb, 1922.

During this period Smith also attempted to set up a factory to build a new version of the Blick-Bar, the rights to which Smith had purchased a few years earlier. The Blick-Bar revival never happened, but in early 1922 Smith introduced a new company, the Annell' Typewriter Company. Taking its name from Smith's middle name, the company's sole product was the Annell' 3A, a machine based on the Woodstock No.4 which was either manufactured especially for or by Annell', or modified units of new old stock. A lot of questions still surround this model.

Popular Mechanics, May, 1922


Early Royal No.10, Popular Mechanics, July, 1922

Two very different machines, both branded Harry A. Smith No.6. The August, 1922, Popular Mechanics ad on the left depicts a rebranded Stearns No.2, while the September, 1922, Popular Mechanics ad on the right depicts a rebranded Harris Visible No.4. Not only are the ads curious for marketing two very different machines under the same model name (they in fact bring the total number of different H.A. Smith No.6s to three), but the No.6-branded Harris is a reappearance, first having been marketed back in 1917. Also curious is the fact that Harry Smith had no official connection with the company during this time--although in my mind, these two models suggest that he was still very much involved, albeit in a behind-the-scenes way.


Smith repurchased control of Smith Typewriter Sales Corp in early 1923, but his comeback was to be brief. Harry Smith died unexpectedly on Jan 11, 1925. The company he founded fourteen years earlier, however, continued on:

L.C. Smith No.8. Popular Mechanics, June, 1926.
Most of Smith Typewriter Sales' business was in Smiths & Coronas from here on out.


Corona 3 Improved, Popular Mechanics, May, 1929


Corona 3 Improved, Popular Mechanics, June, 1930.
This is probably the most colorful and elaborate ad the Smith company ever ran. Note, though, that the people in the vignettes to the right are handling Corona Fours.


Corona 3 Improved. Popular Mechanics, Feb, 1931.
This is the last Smith Typewriter Sales ad I can locate. Presumably, the company dissolved shortly thereafter.

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