.Davis Typewriter Works

.Davis Typewriter Works

Friday, January 14, 2011

So THAT"S what's wrong with it! I knew it!!

Once again our subscribers have zeroed in on just what it is that is "wrong" with our featured machine, an innocent enough looking typewriter that most would not even give it a second glance. BUT, this is "typewriter collecting 301: doctorate level" and therefore if we told you there was something odd about it, there is! You could do the same sort of thing with mucsle cars, like SS Chevrolets with 6-cylinder engines, or maybe with odd golf clubs. Hmmm... No, no... this is a TYPEWRITER blog.

Both "Machines of loving grace" and "Baki" were correct! This is a "speedline" body in "Super 5" paint, and with "Super 5" keys. And before we go any further, for the sake of accuracy Smith-Corona referred to the "speedline" bodied machines as "4 series" machines, and the next, so called "Super 5" machines as "5 series" machines. One will note that the serial numbers of these types do in fact start with either a 4 or 5 depending on the series. So, both of the machines in the picture above are technically 4 series machines. On the left, a totally standard "Silent", and on the right, our mutant in question. Looks totally different in that paint and with those keys doesn't it? But clearly that's what we have. What gives?

Often collectors, actually HUMANS, like to categorize, tabulate, and organize things into neat piles, lists, types, groups, whatever. What would your silverware drawer look like if you didn't? NOW, would the silverware be any less usable if it were just dumped in there? But that's not how we roll, is it? No. So we like nice, neat 4 series machines and neat tidy 5 series machines. But in the real world, production of types can overlap, or parts from a previous series have to get used up in some useful way, while production of the new series has already started. We think that's what we have here. We believe that these machines were made to use up existing parts, to be sold after the release of 5 series machines had already happened.

But there's one thing that everybody missed about this machine, and actually Will and I thought it would be the first thing noticed! IT HAS NO MODEL NAME!! Is it just a "Smith Corona"? (No dash). Above, we see another almost identical mutant, but this one has a model name, "Tabulator". Wow, not a normal Smith-Corona name at all! This name has been associated with Sears, so did they sell it? We don't know, but there it is. That's two of these things. How about a third?

Above, mutant 2 meet mutant 3! Same machine, same features, same body, but it says "Eaton's" on it, and again, no model name! This name is actually a Canadian department store, but again no model name! So there are 3 machines like this, and a fourth JUST SOLD on EBay with the name "Sterling" on it. The two machines here with no model name are also the ONLY Smith-Corona machines we have EVER seen with no model name at all on them.

One final note, and a big one. ALL the machines like this, these "mutant" 4 series machines with "5 series" features, HAVE SERIAL NUMBERS THAT START WITH "4AR..." 4A is commonly associated with sterling model machines, but that "R" is totally and completely unusual, and exists only on this kind of machine so far as we have seen. All 3 shown here have it. So, we are going to refer to these mutants from here on out as "4AR" machines, denoting this intermediate variant. Was it done to use up parts, or fill contracts? We don't know. They do NOT appear to us to be rebuilds, which that "R" might make you think. No, we think they were assembled and distributed as they are, to a variety of sources, intentionally. And, we know it was late, because the use a few parts common to 5 series machines, like the mainspring housing/reel. So, an interesting variant to look out for. Are any mutants lurking undetected in your collection? Look closely, THESE have escaped detection all the way up until now! We hope you all have enjoyed this feature, and stay tuned for the next installment. More mutants guaranteed or your money back!! Promise!!


  1. i see on the tabulator they found their hyphen!

  2. Wow, this really is doctorate-level stuff, and I feel educated! Thanks for your keen eyes and for sharing these mutants with us.

  3. I've noticed the "4xR" prefix on a couple of these. My own Tower Challenger is "4CR". I'm all but sure that all of these "post-discontinuation" Speedlines were made for resellers.

    "Tabulator" was a Sears model name. Surprised the Tower name isn't on it.

    And the Eaton's name has come up a couple of times recently, as distributors of the Viking line of rebadged Smith-Coronas.

  4. I just stumbled on your blog and I just can't stop reading! I didn't realize how much I liked old typewriters until today, when I picked up a Smith-Corona Sterling at a local flea market for $8. I've been wandering around the internet, trying to find some information on it and I think it was made between 1945 and 1949 according to the serial number, 4A118726. The only sad thing about it is the fact that the carriage doesn't move when I type or push the lever over. I read somewhere that it could be a mainspring or a drawband(?) and if it's the latter, I can fix it myself with some fishing line. I was just wondering if you knew anything about this beautiful machine I just bought and if you had any idea on how to fix it. Since this is my first time here, I hope I'm not being too forward in asking. If I can't figure it out, I'll have to find somewhere to take it but the nearest typewriter store/service center is 63 miles away! No matter what it costs to fix, it'll be worth it just because it's so beautiful but also because of how much they're selling for online. I'm never going to let mine go, but it's nice to know it's worth something. I'll probably leave it to my 3 year old when I'm gone one day.
    Listen to me rambling! I'm sorry!
    Anyway! I love the blog, so I'm going to continue reading your back posts! I hope I hear from you though. Looking at this typewriter is killing me, knowing I can't use it when that's all I can think of doing!
    Oh! Here's a link to some pictures of it, just in case you'd like to see it:


  5. I just picked up 4AR "Sterling" at a garage sale.
    Looks to be in great working order.
    Snagged it for 20 bucks.
    Thanks for the info.