|The DAUGHERTY VISIBLE is one of those typewriters that introduced to the market an entirely new feature of design, but which also ended up playing only a minor role, that new design feature notwithstanding.
The Daugherty began as the design of one James D. Daugherty, who, if history is to be believed actually owned one of the Sholes & Glidden machines and who found the blind writing nature of the machine to be a hindrance in operation. As was the case with many rugged individuals of the day, rather than tolerate this shortcoming of all standard makes of the day Daugherty designed a machine with which the typing could be seen while actually being performed, and used type bars and a ribbon to do so. Thus, the Daugherty Visible, introduced in 1893, holds the distinction of being the very first ribbon-inked type-bar machine with visible writing and standard keyboard as well. Again, although the machine found some favor, it was not highly successful in the market.
|Since Daugherty did not own a company and had not formed one, but merely acquired patents on his design, his first move was to get an established company to build a lot of machines under contract. This job was undertaken by Crandall Typewriter Co. of Groton, Connecticut. This run of machines very likely got Daugherty the capital needed to construct his own facility, which he did in 1894 in the somewhat unlikely location of Kittanning, Pennsylvania. The Daugherty Typewriter Company was established at that time and began serious effort to penetrate the marketplace with its machine.
Unfortunately, the company went bankrupt quite suddenly in 1897, which event is said to have been the result of some sort of manufacturing error which ruined 2500 machines (or else the parts for 2500 machines.) The design did have a good deal of merit, though, and unlike some other designs of the time which died a quick death, the Daugherty went through the first of its re-births in 1898 when new investors provided the capital to restart production. This new ownership scheme led also to a name change to reflect it; the firm now became the Pittsburg Writing Machine Company.
|(At right, another shot from Jim Dax illustrating the Pittsburg Visible No. 10. The machine is visually quite similar to the Daugherty above, and features a removable type-set assembly including the keyboard and type basket.)|
|photo courtesy JIM DAX|
|Pittsburg attempted to improve the machine overall through both design upgrades and styling changes. The later models, particularly the final Pittsburg Visible No. 12, move much more toward the look of other standard typewriters of the day. This apparently was not enough.
By 1910, according to both historical accounts and patent office information, the Pittsburg concern had come under the control of the Union Typewriter Company. At this point, then, Union controlled the Remington, Smith Premier, Yost, Monarch and Pittsburg concerns (as well as American Writing Machine which was working on the Century, a new visible, and Densmore, working also on several eventually-abortive visible designs)
|It is impossible to determine exactly what happened this long after the fact, but this concern, even with Union backing, did not survive for very long either. The machine itself just was not as large, heavy and durable as the big standards produced by large makers -- and by this time there were very many makers indeed in this competitive field, quite outside the Union sphere of influence. The Pittsburg machine was selling for much less than the "true" standard machines, but the life span of what are sometimes called 'cut rate standard' machines was always fairly short. In the end, it was just not possible for the company to find a niche of potential buyers who wouldn't either rather have a big standard or a truly portable machine.
Richard Polt has provided us with the information that, on May 12, 1913, the concern (by this time renamed as the Pittsburg Visible Typewriter Company) went bankrupt and was placed in receivership. By September 1913 the selloff of machines had begun, with an advertisement in the New York Times informing customers that they could buy left over but brand new Pittsburg Visible machines at the New York office for just $39.00 each. (Not surprisingly, one of the receivers was one F. L. Sholes, certainly one of the sons of old man Sholes of original Sholes & Glidden / Remington fame and also certainly under the employ of Union Typewriter.)
The exact details of the selloff are not known, but some new evidence indicates to us that yet again the concern was bought, even though the product had previously failed twice in the marketplace (although the first time was due to improper workmanship and not due to market share.) By 1915, we think, the design of the Pittsburg Visible No. 12 had been resurrected and placed back in production with a new name, under new ownership. That story follows on the next page.
|Peter Weil contributes some Daugherty / Pittsburg advertising. On the left, an 1896 ad for the Daugherty Visible Writer, with price given as $75.00. The machine is described with the opening line "Perfect Alignment - Durable - Speedy." Further: "Remington Key board. Simple; plain. Everything is in plain sight. No lifting the carriage to see all your work." Clearly, at least in some circles, what we today refer to as the "standard keyboard" was also called the "Remington keyboard" while various kinds were still in vogue.|
|On the right, the cover of a trade catalog for the Pittsburg Visible No. 11, with the name of the new company clearly seen. Note that the company was represented in Europe, with an office in Hamburg, Germany. Below, an illustration from another catalog for the AMERICO, which was one of a number of name variants of the late Pittsburg / Reliance machines.|
|PITTSBURG VISIBLE 12
s/n 39284 DAVID A. DAVIS collection
|Visitors familiar with this site and its activities will immediately recognize the fact that this incredible Pittsburg Visible No. 12 is owned by none other than my brother Dave! You've seen him in action with me working on typewriters at the DAVIS TYPEWRITER WORKS section, and read some of his material in the Online Typewriter Manual sections too. Here we see a pristine example of the PV12 fully restored (all original decals, no repainting just cleaning and adjusting) and fully operational.|
|The machine is clearly labeled as a product of the Pittsburg Writing Machine Company, and is the highest model number produced by that firm. It is of essentially the same format as the Reliance Visible we'll see in much more detail in later pages -- complete with removable type unit (known as the "keyboard unit" on these machines.) Below, the ornate decal on the paper table; note model number at right.|
|Dave is a man of machines -- just about any kind of machine you can imagine, actually, and thinks this machine is great. He has pointed out how totally, completely different it is from his familiar Smith-Corona and Royal portable typewriters, but also noted that it can "do the job." He's impressed by the quick-change feature with removable type basket / keyboard as a unit.
Of course, the sheer beauty of the machine somewhat hides the fact that it wasn't up to the level of construction or performance of the really big makes of the day -- it's too light, too flimsy and according to Craig and Dan at Your Typewriter & Computer, the design of key lever / type bar mechanism makes this machine fairly hard to repair should a failure occur there. Still, a large enough number have survived to indicate to us that the machine sold pretty well and those that did survived in some number (although nothing close to that of the big makes.) This makes finding one in this top visual shape and full working order more difficult - but here you see it!
|Peter Weil provides an actual bill of sale for a Pittsburg Visible No. 12; the bill head is seen at right. The machine was serial number 37764 and was sold on September 6, 1912. It was equipped with the regular keyboard, and the selling price was $57.50. Only $2.50 was paid in cash at the time; the balance was still due.|
|Elaborate eagle / V emblem Pittsburg employed on letterhead.|