When Wellington Parker Kidder was just fifteen years old, he patented an improvement in rotary steam engines and would go on to study applied mechanics and drawing in Boston. He became interested in printing presses and patented many improvements. It is not surprising then that typewriters would follow, with the superb Franklin being his first.
His first success was the beautiful Franklin, with its curved keyboard and curved type bar shield to match. This early model is distinctive from later models in having a nickel-plated paper table, an oval name plate under the keys, and the name ‘The Franklin’ in Old-English lettering on the curved type-bar shield.
The type-bars stand up vertically behind the shield and swing down to strike the top of the platen. One can see what is being typed but would need to sit up straight to see over the shield. It is interesting to note that the Franklin was the first typewriter to have a shift lock function. The Franklin was well built, good to type on, well priced, and attractive. The Franklin sold well, with a model nine being manufactured in 1904.
The model 1 Franklin has many distinct design features that are not seen on subsequent models. In particular the carriage construction is quite unique and the base casting is different and positions the carriage return spring in the centre, not on the side as seen in later Franklins.