This is the only known photograph of Frank S Rose, pictured with his wife Catherine in April 1900. 
Frank is holding an invention called the 'Office Indicator', thought to be a clockwork dial indicating when the office is open and closed.  Rose was born around 1860. At the time of this photo he, his wife and their son George, lived in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn. Rose was a mechanical engineer, inventor and entrepreneur and the business cards which survived among his effects tell a story of several business ventures that suggest a growing interest in and skill with mechanical devices.  His ventures included a business selling hardware, stoves and plumbing in Main Street, Cobleskill, New York. Some time later he had developed his growing interest in typewriters because he had set up in business at 112 Greenwood Avenue Brooklyn advertising 'Typewriters - All makes bought, sold, exchanged, repaired and re-built.'  Frank was clearly keen to see his name on some of the torrent of inventions that deluged the US Patent Office at the turn of the Twentieth Century. His early inventions included a typist's copy stand, the Rose Universal Copy Holder, which he sold (and perhaps manufactured) at 590 Amsterdam Avenue, New York.  Frank Rose was in poor health as early as 1900. The photo of himself and his wife is annotated, 'Mr and Mrs F. S. Rose. Taken soon after an Hospital experience: not fully recovered health and flesh.' Whatever the state of his physical health, Frank was at the peak of his inventive powers, because it was in the next three years that he devised and worked out the details of the Rose Typewriter. Presumably also he and the family moved during this time to Newark, New Jersey, because that is the residence given in his patent application of 11 February 1903 for a 'Type Writing Machine'. Just over one year later, on 8 March 1904, the Patent was granted. It was probably in late 1906 that Wall Street promoter John Thompson, published a prospectus for The Rose Typewriter Company, of New York, with initial capital of $150,000. The prospectus  shows what appears to be a model of the Rose Typewriter on its cover.  The prospectus says; 

The aim of the inventor, Mr F.S. Rose, while designing and constructing the ROSE TYPEWRITER was to produce a machine that would combine, as nearly as possible, all of the merits of the high grade typewriters now in use with a minimum of working parts, a maximum of strength and durability, and a minimum of weight, also a machine that would meet the demands of the skilled operator, and yet be so simple that any ordinary intelligent person could understand and operate it easily. This we believe has been accomplished.

The use of the past tense here perhaps suggests that its inventor is already dead. This is borne out by the fact that when the company is actually formed and becomes operational in or shortly before February 1907, it is not Frank Rose who is its first President but M. W. Hazen. According to Otto Petermann, an early recruit to the fledgling company and the man who would later be chiefly responsible for the design of the Corona 3, Frank Rose had died before the Rose Company was founded and that it was George Rose who had founded the company with his father's patent.  It is thus ironic that, when he was finally on the brink of his greatest success, Frank Rose did not live to see his invention in production.

The Rose Typewriter Company prospectus was clearly successful  in raising capital because a small loft factory was established at 2234 8th Avenue with four workers, probably in late 1906 or early 1907. In March 1907, Otto Petermann started work as a drill press operator at $14 per week. It was not until a year later in March 1908, Petermann later recalled, that the first production machine came off the line. After a slow start  production seems to have got under well way, judging from the serial numbers allocated to early machines. The records show that from a nominal start up date of 1906 to July 1910, serial numbers 1 to 5,570 were allocated and from July 1910 to February 1912 (when the Corona 3 was launched) serial numbers 5,571 to 19,999 were allocated. In June 1908, Rose Typewriter Company moved to a larger loft factory at 447 West 26th Street, New York where it began manufacture of the 'Standard Folding Typebar Visible Typewriter'.  Events then move swiftly. According to legend, sometime in 'early 1909' New York Senator Benn Conger sees a fellow train passenger typing on an odd-looking portable aluminium typewriter, the Rose machine. In July 1909, Conger and two fellow investors buy the company and its patent from George Rose and form The Standard Typewriter Company. According to a family story passed down, Catherine and George Rose received 150,000 for the patent rights. In July-August 1909, Conger bought the Groton Carriage Works and moved the company from New York to Groton, where, on 31 August 1909, Otto Petermann started work as head of the 'experimental' department. It was now that production began of the 'Model 1' Standard Folding Typewriter. In Summer 1910, the 'Model 2' Standard Folding Typewriter was launched. One material difference is that the Cap and Fig keys are moved together to the left side of the keyboard. In December 1910, Benn Conger and his partners went public, offering 1,000 shares of preferred stock to raise $100,000. The share prospectus says the company is making 100 machines per week and plans to double this capacity 'within a few months'. Longer term plans envisage manufacturing 400-500 per week by 1912.  Between late 1910 and early 1912, Otto Petermann began work designing the Standard Folding Typewriter No 3. In 1911, the name of the machine is changed to 'Corona 3' with 'Standard Folding Typewriter' underneath in small letters. In the last week of February 1912, the Corona 3 was finally launched. Nothing was ever quite the same again.


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       Copyright Richard Milton 2003-2009
          Last revised: 14 May 2006

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