Although typewriters may be relics of the bygone eras, aficionados still enjoy collecting them. One of the most preferred brands of vintage typewriters is the Smith-Corona. Officially formed after the merging of two different companies, the Smith-Corona Typewriter Company came into being in 1926.
In this detailed guide, we will take a deeper look at the interesting history of the Smith-Corona typewriter. What’s more, we will show you the typewriter’s different models and the price to expect when shopping for vintage Smith-Corona typewriters.
The History of the Vintage Smith-Corona Typewriter
Smith-Corona has a very long history that goes back to 1886. The history features two 2 distinct companies – the Corona Typewriter Company and the L.C. Smith & Bros Corporation – which merged to form the Smith-Corona Manufacturing Company.
In this section, we will take a deeper look at the evolution of the Smith-Corona typewriters, from the earliest dual-case mechanical typewriters to the personal word processors.
1886: The Smith Brothers Form the Smith Premier Typewriter-Making Company
Before making typewriters, the Smith brothers were in the business of manufacturing firearms. However, after noticing similarities between manufacturing techniques and mechanical processes in the firearms factory and those in the relatively new typewriter industry, Alexander T. Brown, an employee of the Smith brothers, approached the company leadership with his design of a mechanical typewriter.
In 1886, Monroe C. Smith, HW Smith, Wilbert Smith, and LC Smith established the Smith Premier Typewriter-Making Company to produce Alexander T. Brown’s design of a dual-case typewriter.
1890: Smith Premier 1 Typewriter
About 4 years after establishment, Smith Premier Typewriter-Making Company produced its first typewriter. The company produced typewriters with Alexander T. Brown’s design between 1890 and 1907.
1907: The L.C. Smith & Bros Model No. 2 Typewriter
Smith Premier Typewriter-Making Company changed its name in 1903 to become the L.C. Smith & Bros Corporation. The first typewriter that the company produced under its new name came out in 1907.
The typewriter was named the L.C. Smith & Bros Model No. 2. 12 months later, however, the company produced the Model No. 1.
1907: Standard Typewriter Company Starts Making a Folding Typewriter
The Standard Typewriter Company – which would later become the Corona Typewriter Company – started making a typewriter that could fold in 1907. The goal of the company was to improve portability for typewriters.
1910: L.C. Smith Passes Away
One of the Smith brothers – L.C. Smith – passed away in 1910. L.C. Smith left the typewriter-making business to his three brothers – Monroe C. Smith, HW Smith, and Wilbert Smith.
1914: Smith Tower Construction
Four years after their brother’s death, the 3 remaining brothers initiated the Smith Tower construction.
1914: Standard Typewriter Company Becomes Corona Typewriter Company
Following the success of its Corona typewriter model, the Standard Typewriter Company rebranded, dropping its previous name to become the Corona Typewriter Company. The company kept improving its portable typewriters until it merged with L.C. Smith & Bros Corporation.
1926: L.C. Smith & Bros Typewriter Company and Corona Typewriter Company Merge
In the mid-1920s, L.C. Smith & Bros Typewriter Company decided to merge with the Corona Typewriter Company to create the Smith-Corona Company. Combining durable L.C. Smith office typewriters with Corona’s popular and portable typewriting machines turned the new company into a leader in the typewriter industry.
Being portable and durable, the Smith-Corona typewriters had a high demand. This helped the company remain profitable through the Great Depression.
1942: Smith-Corona Offers Help in World War II
When the second world war started in 1942, Smith-Corona helped by producing, bomb fuses, portable cipher machines, ammunition, and bolt-action rifles. During this period, the company continued the production of typewriters.
1957: Smith-Corona Develops Its First Electric Typewriter
After the second world war, Smith-Corona decided to put its focus on electric typewriters. The company finally produced its first electric typewriter in 1957.
1973: Smith-Corona Produces the Coronamatic Cartridge
This invention made ribbon changes extremely easy. It allowed its users to make ribbon changes without having to touch the new ribbon. By helping the users avoid touching the ribbons that came with ink, the new invention made using typewriters less messy.
1982: Smith-Corona Produces the Ultrasonic Office and Typetronic II
These typewriters were “sound driven.” Taking advantage of sound waves, Smith-Corona eliminated numerous mechanical parts that were present in its earlier versions. This made its machines less bulky.
The 1980s: Smith-Corona Leads the Personal Word Processor Market
Smith-Corona is recognized for being a leader in word processing. The company created several word processing technologies that were implemented in computers (PCs).
Unfortunately for the company, the personal computer revolution killed the typewriter market. As the market collapsed between the 1980s and the 2000s, Smith-Corona started searching for new ways to generate revenue. Today, the company uses its print knowledge in the label marking industry.
Popular Smith-Corona Typewriter Models
1. Smith Premier Models
Produced for the first time in 1890, this antique typewriter was designed by Alexander T. Brown.
The Smith Premier 1 stood out because of its attractive relief of flowers, cattails, and columns that were cast into its sides. The typewriter’s insides were equally impressive. Instead of using levers that were present on earlier typewriters, Alexander Brown designed the Smith Premier 1 with rods and cranks that were extremely easy to adjust for maximum control.
A second Smith Premier model appeared in 1895. This model, however, did not have ornately decorated sides like the Smith Premier 1.
Produced in 1901, the Smith Premier 3 featured 84 keys. The 2 earlier models – Smith Premier 1 & 2 – had 76 keys. The Smith Premier models were built in a total of 13 languages, with different typewriters featuring special keyboard layouts and characters.
One of the special features of the Smith premier model was its circular brush that sat below the type basket. Using a crank, this brush could be screwed upwards, allowing the machine user to brush clogged ink and lint off the type.
2. L.C. Smith Bros Typewriter Model
In 1903, after the Smith Premier model had already succeeded, the Smith Brothers rebranded to form the L.C. Smith & Bros Typewriter Corporation. Their goal was to produce a typewriting machine that allowed its user to see what he/she was typing.
The L.C. brothers purchased a patent for ball bearings from a company that produced artificial legs. Starting in 1907, all the machines that the company produced were fitted with ball bearings.
The antique L.C. Smith Bros Typewriter Model No. 2 was produced in 1907. About a year later, the company produced the L.C. Smith Bros Typewriter Model No. 1.
3. Corona Typewriter Model
Produced by the Corona Typewriter Company for the first time in the 1910s, the Corona typewriter remained popular until around 1941. This model of typewriter featured a carriage and platen that could fold down and rest on the keyboard – this allowed it to become more compact and more portable.
Compared to the Smith Premier and then L.C. Smith Bros Models, the Corona typewriter was also lighter. This further boosted its portability.
The Corona typewriter became wildly successful in 1914. When Corona Typewriter Company and L.C. Smith & Bros Corporation merged, the Corona Type 3 was still one of the most produced models.
4. Portable Smith-Corona Models
The first Smith-Corona typewriter came into existence in the mid-1920s when the L.C. Smith & Bros Typewriter Corporation merged with the Corona Typewriter Company. Unlike the previous models manufactured by L.C. Smith & Bros Typewriter Corporation, the new model was compact and light enough to allow portability.
5. The 5 Series Model
Produced between 1950 and 1962, the Smith-Corona 5 Series Model managed to acquire a large number of accolades from users. The antique Smith-Corona typewriter was called user-friendly, with some users considering it one of the best typewriters ever produced.
The 5 series was available in several models, including the clipper (entry-level) and silent-super (this was considered top-of-the-line). The 5 Series model was available in 5 standard colors – seafoam green, coral pink, alpine blue, sapphire gray, and desert sand.
6. Smith-Corona PWP 1400 model
As noted earlier, Smith-Corona was a front-runner in word processing. The company’s PWP 1400 model could perform word processing. Produced for the first time in the 1980s, this model competed with other brands like Adler, Olivetti, Brother, IBM, and Olympia.
Some of the features included in the PWP 1400 included a spell right dictionary, line & word eraser, built-in power cable storage, a built-in LCD, carrying handle, and AutoSpell.
How Much Should You Expect to Pay for Vintage Smith-Corona Typewriters?
1. Smith Premier No. 4
The earliest vintage Smith Premier typewriter available on sale is the No.4 model. Online, this vintage typewriter features a price tag of $299.99.
According to the seller, the vintage typewriter features a lot of grime and wear. The typewriter does not work. However, the seller reports that it can be repaired, used for display, and disassembled for parts.
2. Smith Premier No. 10
This is one of the most expensive vintage smith-corona typewriters we came across online. To acquire this vintage typewriter model, you will need to pay $995. The typewriter, however, comes with its original metal cover.
The vintage typewriter dates back to 1907 and is made of steel. The seller notes that some of its keys are bent slightly. The vintage typewriter, however, is not in working condition – buyers, however, can use it for parts.
3. Corona No.3 Model
Depending on when the Corona No. 3 model was produced and its condition, its cost will sit between $140 and $800.
The Corona No. 3 model whose image appears in this section was produced in 1917. Online, this vintage typewriter has a price of $403.96. The vintage typewriter features its original case, is in nice condition, and works.
4. Smith-Corona Super-Speed
After L.C. Smith Bros and Corona Typewriter Companies merged, Super-Speed was one of the very first typewriter models they produced. The model whose image appears in this section was produced in the 1930s. Online, the vintage typewriter is selling for $279.30.
According to the seller, the typewriter’s back body is broken. However, this does not affect the typewriter’s functionality. The typewriter is in working order.
5. Smith-Corona Super-Silent
Part of the 5 series models, the vintage super-silent Smith Corona typewriter dates back to between the 1950s and 1960s. The vintage typewriter captured here was manufactured in 1958 and is selling at $279.
The seller notes that the typewriter is in working condition and comes in its original case. The vintage Smith-Corona typewriter does not have any sticking keys.
6. Smith-Corona Personal Word Processor
The Smith-Corona PWP typewriters seem to be in high demand. Most of the PWP typewriters we found listed online were already sold out.
We, however, found the Smith-Corona PWP 1200 still on sale. The vintage Smith-Corona typewriter (check picture) was selling at $129.99. According to the seller, this vintage typewriter is in good condition both operationally and cosmetically.
Although vintage Smith-Corona typewriters were produced for the first time in 1926, the companies behind the typewriters have been around for over a century. Combining durability and portability, the Smith-Corona Typewriter Company managed to produce typing machines that attracted customers even during the Great Depression.
Adapting to new trends, Smith-Corona made electric typewriters and moved on to become one of the pioneer companies in the word processor industry. Unfortunately, the company lost its market to personal computers. This prompted the company to start producing thermal labels.
This guide shows you everything there is to know about the Smith-Corona typewriters. From the company’s history and typewriter models to the cost of the vintage models available today, the guide answers the major questions often asked by new collectors. If you feel like you need more information, be sure to let us know in the comment section.