|It is well known that Christopher Latham Sholes was the central figure in the genesis of the typewriter as we consider it today, and that he had a number of sons who continued in the typewriter business to various ends. In this article, we'll try to unjumble the confusing array of efforts that took place after the launch of the great Sholes & Glidden / Remington machines.
First, it should be noted for clarity that Wyckoff, Seamans & Benedict bought the whole typewriter business from Remington Arms in 1886. Thus, after that point the original Remington firm had no part of the typewriters (and indeed itself became insolvent later on.) The name "Remington" for typewriters was that of Wyckoff, Seamans & Benedict to use.
GETTING TO our story... While there are some miscellaneous patents and patent models around (a certain three-bank front strike by Louis Sholes, both patented and singly built comes to mind) to indicate an array of efforts, it is instructive to first consider the three main efforts by Sholes' children that resulted in actual output - all of which are unrelated to each other:
1. A corroboration between Zalmon Gilbert Sholes, son of C. Latham, and Franklin Remington, son of one of the Remington Arms' company's owners which resulted in a company that lasted some number of years, through a number of name changes and models of typewriter.
2. A succession of companies which all attempted to manufacture the same basic design over a number of years, which design was apparently partly developed by C. Latham himself prior to his death in February 1890 but which included design work by his sons Louis and Frederick.
3. A succession of companies on both sides of the Atlantic which attempted to manufacture a basic design by Zalmon Sholes, none of which really had any market effect and which was essentially ended by Zalmon's death in October 1917.
We will deal with these enterprises in numerical order as indicated above in the following pages. To this end we begin with No. 1:
|Zalmon G. Sholes and Franklin Remington began work in 1894 on what would eventually result in the REMINGTON-SHOLES TYPEWRITER COMPANY, whose offices and factory were located in Chicago, Illinois. The design was quite like others of the day (it was first manufactured in 1896) in the sense that it was an upstrike, or "blind writer" machine - but internally it had one major difference. The machine incorporated basket shift, wherein the whole basket of type-bars was displaced when the shift keys were operated, rather than the carriage. (Envelope at left courtesy Peter Weil.)|
|As is well known to collectors, Remington Typewriter sued Remington-Sholes company in 1898 over the use of the name. Prior to this, the machine had been referred to by its makers as the "REM-SHO" as is seen both on the envelope above, showing the No. 1 machine and in the ad at right, which dates from November 1897 and which shows the No. 2 machine. Further action in 1901 was more definite, and the company was forced by judicial decision to rename both itself and its product. The company, thus, in 1901 renamed itself the Fay-Sholes Typewriter Company which took advantage of the name of C. Fay, who was general manager at the time. The machine itself of course became the "FAY-SHO."|
|Note the differences between the 1897 ad above and the 1901 ad seen at the left. Note the blanks where "Rem" and "Remington" should be!|
|Further 1902 ad at right shows typing champion and the Fay-Sho machine with a copy holder. Note change of address from 127 Rees St. to 135 Rees St. Note also that in the list of officials, there are NO Sholes family members mentioned by this point.|
|Ads courtesy PETER WEIL|
|FAY-SHO No. 6
Gary Bothe collection
The upstrike standard machines produced by this succession of companies ran through seven different models according to our sources. This No. 6 is a beautiful example, sent to us by Gary Bothe - who decidedly has a "midwestern connection" to typewriters.
|At right, Gary has raised the carriage to the position used for viewing the work in progress. Note the pointer indicating the location of the print point on the platen, and the scale visible just below it. This was considered an important feature.|
|It appears that in 1903, further legal action was begun by the company to essentially get its names back, which it did within four years. During the period 1904-1905, Fay-Sholes acquired and merged the Arithmograph Company and apparently briefly operated wholly as "The Arithmograph Company" before selling the Arithmograph (an adding machine add-on for typewriters) business and becoming Fay-Sholes, and then again Remington-Sholes. However, developments in the machine during this time were insignificant and the market position began to lag in view of the fact that "visible" machines were clearly taking over.
This position the company attempted briefly to rectify. In 1908, the new Remington-Sholes No. 10 and No. 11 appeared. These were fully visible, four-bank frontstrike machines competitive with those made anywhere in many features and in quality. However, the effort to make the company's product competitive was very short lived; in January, 1909 the company was declared bankrupt. The new, visible machines were not able to save the company - but the design did live on, as we'll see in a moment.
|1909 ad for the Remington-Sholes Visible courtesy Peter Weil. Note the mention of instantly interchangeable carriages - a carryover from the upstrike machine designs. The new visible did not use a slotted segment, but rather the older-style half-circle ring; bearings were large since type-bars were mounted on both sides of it.|
|REMINGTON-SHOLES No. 11
Thomas Fuertig collection
Our German friend, Thomas Fuertig who is well known in collector circles (and on the net from the European Typewriter Project) sends some great shots of his Remington-Sholes Visible. The machine is just as shown in the advertisement, with the exception of having nickel-ringed built-up keytops instead of what appear to be one-piece celluloid keytops.
Carl Mares notes in his famous work on the subject of typewriters that the Remington-Sholes had a noteworthy design quirk. This machine prints slightly BELOW level, or slightly below 90 degrees to the vertical rather than right "dead on" the front of the platen. The makers thought that this would make view of the writing easier. Mares points out that there were a number of ideas on this subject, and notes (as do we, having one) that the contemporary Victor Standard printed just ABOVE the front, its makers having yet another view on how to make the typing easiest. The perspective at left allows the reader to judge the view of the typist in action.
|In an interesting set of views, we see the same machine from the other three sides, giving a true 360 degree perspective. Notable is the location of the ribbon spools, which are 90 degrees out from the common placement (but in line with those of Remington and Victor brand machines). The ribbon vibrator pulls away from the print point, somewhat the same as that of the Victor at that time, to allow view of the work. The rear view gives especially good perspective of the main spring, and the array of intermediate levers connecting the full length key levers to the type bar links.
Contemporary accounts indicate that the Remington-Sholes 10 / 11 were fast, well-made and simple (no backspacer, no tabulator, no automatic ribbon reverse) and that they were fully workable machines. This being the case, it must have been other factors which killed the company.
|The enterprise originally set up by Zalmon Sholes and Franklin Remington had lasted from 1894 to sometime in 1909 when it was liquidated. However, the machine's design lived on!
Rights for the design as well as the tooling to make it were sold to a new company in France, Japy Freres & Co. Manufacturing of typewriters in Europe was taking off at this time, and French investors were keen to get in on the market. The Remington-Sholes machine had not been bad, per se; just somewhat less than competitive as regards features, and made by a company which had never been more significant than marginal. The new company began production of their JAPY in 1910, and added features.
at left: JAPY No. 3
TILMAN ELSTER COLLECTION
|ABOVE, we see Tilman Elster's fairly early JAPY machine. Tilman is also familiar to collectors and viewers for his dedicated work and for the European Typewriter Project, by the way. Note the similarity of the JAPY to the earlier machines - but note that it has a ribbon selector and back-spacer added. This company went on to be the major French typewriter manufacturer for many years until it was bought out by Paillard in the 1970's.
Of the three ventures mentioned at the top of the page, this was the most successful measured both in terms of actual output of machines, and continuation and longevity of the derived design overseas. It did not, though, produce at any point a major competitor in the market in the United States. The other two ventures mentioned above were even less significant.