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Saturday 24 March 2012

The Petermann-Hazen 1909 Corona Non-Folding Standard Typewriter

In this, the centenary year of the launch of the famous Corona 3 portable typewriter, it is interesting to discover there was a lot more going on at Corona’s Groton, New York, factory between 1909 and 1916 than the development of the Rose-Standard Folding three-bank. And that all the design work being done there wasn’t by Swiss-born Otto Petermann. Indeed, that that was far from being the case.
What doesn’t yet appear to have been mentioned anywhere is that in the early days of the Rose-Standard company, Petermann was working closely alongside Marshman Williams Hazen on both the folding portable and a larger-sized non-folding typewriter.
On March 27, 1909, just before the Rose Typewriter Company was taken over by a consortium led by New York senator Benn Conger, Hazen and Petermann applied for three patents for a standard-sized frontstroke typewriter.
At the time of the takeover, in June 1909, Hazen and Petermann re-applied for two of the patents, and the applications were renewed and assigned to the Corona Typewriter Company in August 1912 and August 1915. The one which was not renewed remained in the name of the Standard Typewriter Company.
As well, Charles Philo Mosher, a member of a well-established Groton family, the highly successful typewriter designer Emmit Girdell Latta, and inveterate inventors Benjamin Whitehead Tucker, James Adams Ekin Criswell and Louis Jean Dirand were all simultaneously working on a range of new Corona designs, notably for an even more compactable portable, as well as one which tilted. Between the five, a total of 18 patents were assigned to Corona in a flurry of design activity between 1911-18.
This gives a very clear indication that, while Petermann and Hazen had worked on developing the existing three-bank folding machine in 1908-09, Corona later employed others to plan the “next generation” of Corona portable typewriters.
Petermann is in the middle of the back row.
From Darryl Rehr article on Petermann in ETCetera No 11, June 1990.
My theory is that, given the enormous sales success of the three-bank folding, Corona concentrated its production efforts on that typewriter, putting off any thought of introducing the next generation model and perhaps challenging its own folding three-bank with another portable in the marketplace – bearing in mind the only other “portable” around at that time was the Blickensderfer, which, with its case, was not truly comparable in terms of portability.
The Corona 3’s commercial success continued on through the war years and beyond – with the Fox lookalike being blocked in the courts. Then, in 1919, Underwood, and soon after Remington, entered this hitherto one-brand market by producing portables which achieved portability without folding carriage devices – and the playing field no longer belonged to Corona alone.
As it turned out, Corona obviously abandoned all ideas for another folding typewriter and in 1919 Edwin Leander Harmon began working on what would eventually become, in 1924, with the added input of Petermann and Henry Allen Avery (above), the Corona four-bank.
In the meantime, the Groton designers shelved work on a standard-size Corona. The company merged with L.C.Smith in January 1926 and in the end Corona never did produce a standard-sized typewriter in its own name.
Not much has been written about Marshman Williams Hazen in typewriter histories. Richard Milton’s The First Corona refers to him passingly as the first president of the Rose Typewriter Company (which subsequently became the Standard and then the Corona typewriter companies).
Michael Adler has entries on Hazen in both of his histories. However, as is all too common with typewriter inventor-designers, early mistakes have been seriously compounded over the years.
Like Adler before me, I wasted a lot of time searching for a non-existent turn-of-the-century Hazen patent for a Hall-People’s-Champion lookalike index typewriter. Unlike Adler, however, I uncovered what it was: it was a design by Newman R. Marshman, who often collaborated with Lee Spear Burridge on typewriters, notably the first Sun.
Newman Marshman and Marshman Hazen – I suppose it’s easy to see where the confusion arose. Hazen was at one time president of the People’s Manufacturing Company, but this was not the one that made the People’s typewriter – both versions of that (the Brooks and the Sjoberg) were, according to Paul Lippman, made by Garvin. Adler, in his 1973 book, attributes the notion that Newman Marshman’s patent was a Marshman Hazen design to Emile Budan’s 1902 Le Macchine da Scrivere dal 1714 at 1900 (Milan, 1902), which for starters rules out 1901 as the year of the mystery patent. Adler says it was described and illustrated in the Budan book.
Without question, this is where G.C.Mares got the idea for his 1909 work, that there was a "Hazen’s" type-wheel machine. Mares dismissed it as “nearly identical with the People’s and the Champion”. Adler, in his 1997 book, described it as “a swinging sector design in a format strongly reminiscent of the Hall”. Mares was in this case more accurate: while there were elements in Newman R. Marshman’s design (below) which made it look like the Hall, it was much closer to the People’s and Champion in overall concept.
Adler at least took care to say this patent was “reported to have been granted to Marshman Hazen of New York in 1901”. In his first book, Adler said he had failed to find the patent – with little wonder. It doesn’t exist. The one issued to Newman R. Marshman at the turn of the century does. In it, Newman Marshman admits to the similarity with an earlier design, by Louis Philippe Valiquet, but not the Brook or Sjoberg designs.
Where Adler was quite wrong was in stating “The only [patent] issued to Hazen is one jointly held with Richard Uhlig (above) for a swinging-sector design with four-row keyboards, 1908”. This was, in fact, just one of ELEVEN typewriter patents in Hazen’s name, three of them jointly with Petermann.
First, let’s look at what is accepted wisdom about the Rose-Standard-Corona typewriter companies:
Photo of Frank Rose taken in April 1900.
He died five years after the picture was taken.
1. 1902, Franklin (Frank) Sebastian Rose begins developing his aluminium folding machine. He applies for a patent in February 1903 and is granted it in March 1904.
2. May 23, 1905, Frank Rose dies. His son, George Francis Rose, sets out to establish a company to manufacture Frank Rose’s typewriter. One of the first people to become involved is William Grant Rhodes (1866-1946), who with George Rose was assigned a posthumous escapement mechanism patent from Frank Rose. Rhodes was born in Lansing but brought up in Groton, where he and his family had close ties with the Conger family and, through the freemasonry, with Hazen. Rhodes later becomes auditor for Corona and, in 1926, succeeds Charleton French Brown as treasurer of L.C.Smith-Corona, when Brown is made vice-president of manufacturing.
3. Late 1906, a prospectus is published for the Rose Typewriter Company, with initial capital of $150,000. A Condensed History of the Writing Machine says this funding is provided by Marshman Williams Hazen, at that time a prominent New York City lawyer.
Note by Petermann, contained in Darryl Rehr article
on Petermann in ETCetera No 11, June 1990
4. February 1907, the Rose Typewriter Company is formed, with Hazen, unsurprisingly, given his huge investment, as president. On February 28, Otto Petermann is interviewed by Hazen and the next day, March 1, Petermann (below) starts work as a drill press operator for the Rose company in Upper Manhattan. The factory moves to Chelsea, West Side, Manhattan, in June 1908.
5. September 1907, the “Standard Folding Typebar Visible Writing Typewriter” is described in the trade paper, Typewriter Topics.
6. March 1908, the Standard Folding Typewriter reaches the market. In June, Hazen and Petermann begin applying for patents for the next generations, the Model 2 Standard Folding, which would be introduced in mid-1910, and what would become the Corona 3.
7. June 1909, the Rose company is taken over and in its place the Standard Typewriting Company is incorporated in July and refinanced through a consortium headed by New York Senator Benn Conger (above), of Groton.
There is previous typewriter production experience in the family: Conger’s older brother, Frank Conger, had been secretary of the Crandell Typewriter Company when it was established in Groton in 1887.
At this point, it seems, Hazen bows out, possibly through ill health, but certainly not, as previously claimed, through death.
One of the investors with Conger is a young mechanical engineer, Carleton French Brown (1882-1967), of Elizabeth, New Jersey. Educated at Pingry School and St Paul's, New Hampshire (1896-1900), Brown gained a civil engineering degree in 1904 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Brown becomes general manager, treasurer and a director of Corona, and after the merger with the L.C.Smith Company, is appointed Smith-Corona’s vice-president of manufacturing. He retired in 1953.
The other major backer joining Conger in this enterprise is Vancouver-born US congressman and New York senator Jacob Sloat Fassett (above, 1853-1924), an Elmira businessman, lawyer and member of the US House of Representatives from New York.
8. August 1909, operations move to Groton. Petermann starts work in the “experimental department” on August 31.

The first, 1912 factory, above, from Richard Milton's Portable Typewriter website.
Below is the larger 1916 plant
9. June 1910, Model 2 of the Standard Folding is introduced.
10. December 1910, Conger’s consortium makes a public share offering, 1000 shares at $100 each, raising $100,000 to expand production facilities at Groton.
11. February 1912, the Corona 3 is launched.

12. July 1914, the Standard Typewriter Company becomes the Corona Typewriter Company.
Benn Conger, standing right, talks to Carleton Brown in the Corona office
Now, let’s look at Marshman William Hazen and what led to his involvement in all this:
Marshman Williams Hazen was born in Beverly, Essex County, Massachusetts, on July 28, 1840, the youngest child of Grenlief Hazen and Susan P. Towne Hazen. Grenlief was a shoemaker and contractor. Susan died when Marshman was seven.
At the time of the establishment of the Rose Typewriter Company, Hazen was a lawyer based at 27 Thames Street, New York City, just south of where the World Trade Center now stands.
Hazen was educated at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, where he obtained a BA in 1866 and a MA in 1869. He paid his own way through Dartmouth by teaching: he was principal of the Pinkerton Academy, New Hampshire, to 1869, and principal of the West Cambridge High School, Massachusetts, until 1872.
He worked for a while as newspaper editor and became involved in the publishing business, joining Ginn and Company, publishers of school books in Boston.
Hazen was in charge of Ginn’s western house until 1877 and then became manager of the New England branch house of Daniel Appleton’s New York book publishing company until 1882. That same year he was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar.
Hazen moved to New York City in 1885, concentrating on corporation law. As well as becoming a director of many corporations, Hazen was president of:
.The American Magazine Publishing Co
.The National Press Co
.People's Manufacturing Co
.The Union Writing Machine Co (of which Adler says he was a major shareholder. Clarence Walker Seamans is also said to have been president of the Union company during this period.)
.Sheldon Loan and Trust Co
Hazen was also a prolific author, writing Hazen’s Elementary History of the United States; History of the Forms of the World's Governments; A First Year Book and many other school books. These included Observation, Thought and Expression, Or, Seeing, Thinking, Knowledge, Talking and Writing; Hazen’s Complete Spelling Book for All Grades of Public and Private Schools; Hazen’s Primer and First-(Fifth) Reader; The Second Book of Word and Sentence Work, Or, Easy Steps in Spelling; Hazen’s Fourth Reader; Hazen’s Fifth Reader and The First Book of Word and Sentence Work, Or, Easy Steps in Spelling.
Between 1902-08, Hazen ran his own publishing company in New York, one which produced books relating to freemasonry and religion. Hazen was a 33rd degree mason.
Both A Condensed History of the Writing Machine and Adler state that Hazen’s heavy involvement with the typewriter industry ended in 1909, when they claim he died. Indeed, A Condensed History records, “The illness and death in 1909 of M.W.Hazen, who had supplied the money [to the Rose enterprise] until then to carry on the work, caused George F.Rose to seek a re-financing of the company ….”
This claim puts a different complexion on the romantic story of Benn Conger having seen a young lady using a Standard Folding on a train and deciding to form a consortium to approach George Rose and Frank Rose's widow, Catherine Marcley Rose, with an offer of $150,000 to take over the company.
What we do now know is that Hazen did not die until July 23, 1911. He died, unmarried, in Boston, and it may well be that he moved from New York to Boston after becoming ill and retiring from the typewriter business, or he died while in Massachusetts on business or some other reason.
We also know Hazen had an older brother, Josiah Orville Hazen, who lived just north of Boston in Haverhill, and that Josiah Hazen became the executor of Marshman Hazen’s estate. A patent for the Corona Typewriter Company, originally applied for in June 1908, was re-filed in 1913 and issued in 1917 to Josiah Hazen.
This was one of 11 typewriter patents issued in the name of Marshman Williams Hazen, all but one of which was assigned to either the Standard or the Corona typewriter companies.
The remaining Hazen typewriter patent was issued jointly with Richard William Uhlig - see my post on “Uhlig’s World” at
This patent is for a typewriter Uhlig worked on in Rutherford, New Jersey, between his Index Visible (1903-04) and his Emerson (1909). It is a standard-size, four-bank keyboard typewriter with a swinging sector, the type element looking very much like the typeshuttle on a Hammond.
The application for the patent was made in January 1905 and it was issued in May 1908 (#887,192). Uhlig usually sought financial backing for his many typewriter projects, and this may well be a case in which Uhlig received financial support from Hazen in exchange for joint ownership of the patent, since neither man owned a typewriter or manufacturing company to which they could assign the patent. Indeed, Uhlig assigned the patent to Hazen. But it certainly indicates Hazen’s growing interest in typewriters at this advanced stage of his life – he was in his mid-60s, and a wealthy New York lawyer-publisher, at the time of the application.
My guess is that this typewriter is either the Modern-Model or the Uhlig. Uhlig tried to raise funds to make the former in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and the latter in Arlington, New Jersey, between 1909-10.
Including the 1908 patent which was issued after his death, Marshman Williams Hazen assigned seven patents in his own name to the Standard or Corona typewriter companies. These were for the ribbon and feed mechanism, carriage, line spacing and platen shift, as well as the machine itself. They were all originally applied for on June 23, 1908, and some applications were re-submitted when Conger’s consortium took over the company in June 1909.
The remaining three patents were applied for jointly by Hazen and Petermann and assigned to both the Standard and Corona companies. The applications date from March 1909.
Meanwhile, Petermann was issued with 32 typewriter patents between 1909 and 1929, six of them assigned to the Standard Typewriter Company and the remaining 26 to Corona. The last of the patents were issued three years after Petermann had left Corona, at the time of the L.C.Smith merger.
From a Darryl Rehr article in ETCetera No 11, June 1990:
Do Petermann's 32 patents cover his list of 32 items?


Bill M said...

Very interesting. I am always fascinated at the detail and depth of information of your posts. It must take you tens of hours digging for all the historical information.

Robert Messenger said...

Thank you, Bill, you're very kind. It is hard work, long hours, but comments such as this make all the effort worthwhile.

Richard P said...

I too am impressed, to say the least, at your thoroughness and multifaceted analysis. Nice work.

notagain said...

I'd like to see the process you use from research to post. Very interesting as always.

Rob Bowker said...

Thanks Robert. The folding three really captures my imagination for its ingenuity and downright 'ahead-of-its-time" ness. Richard Milton's coverage was inspiration enough to try and get one for myself (though an original Rose would have been nice - they are a LOT harder to find). The huge back story, with all those European sounding names really echoes the growth of early manufacturing industry in the US. And to actually type on the fruits of that early endeavour in 2012 somehow, but viscerally, brings the history to life. I wonder if the designers back then got as much pleasure from specifying, say, the folding hinge as I do from just looking at it - as gleaming as the day it was made.

Robert Messenger said...

Thanks also to Richard, Peter and Rob. I'm not sure anyone could tolerate standing by watching this laborious drawn-out process. This one started with a chance discovery of a patent. Once I'd fleshed out Hazen and found there was much more to him than mere investor, and put the early history in some semblance of order, other players kept cropping up. Richard's earlier point about us still very much relying on "hard copy" histories continues to prove valid. Drawing all the bits of information together in some logical, verifiable form is the tough, timer-consuming part.

Unknown said...

Hello, Great information on your page! I am currently working on a TV Series for WSKG Public Media, a PBS station, and we are in need of historical photos of the Smith Corona Factory that was in Groton, NY. It has proven fairly difficult to find these images, and then I came across your page and pleasantly surprised. Would you mind if we used the images you have posted? And if its alright, how would you like us to credit the images? Thanks for your time.