AMERICAN FLYER TYPEWRITER VARIATIONS
By Leon Sweet
American Flyer introduced its line of toy typewriters in 1933, with the typewriter appearing in a price list that has a flyer with revised prices as of July 5, 1933. The price list from July indicates a retail price of $2.25.
The typewriters must have been a strong seller, as the Illustrated Price List – As Revised up to October 15, 1933 indicates a retail price of $2.50 for the item. The May 1, 1934 price list shows a redesigned typewriter and indicates "Last year the American Flyer Typewriter was a complete sellout."
The 1934 retail price was still $2.50; however, by 1935 the retail price for the typewriter had dropped back to $2.25, where it remained through the 1937 price lists.
May 1, 1934 price list
The American Flyer typewriters operate similar to a label maker, in that there is a dial with the letters/numbers on it, instead of individual keys for each letter/number. There are distinct differences between the 1933 and 1934-1937 typewriters.
1 The 1933 typewriter only allowed for capital letters, where the 1934 and later typewriters had both capital and lower-case letters.
2 The letter pad on the 1933 typewriter was a large decal, where the 1934 and later letter pad was an identical letter pad that was printed on cardboard and slid into tab holders.
3 The bodies on the 1933 typewriter were painted either red or green with black paper carriages, as opposed to the 1934 and later typewriters which featured black bodies with red, green, or blue paper carriages.
4 The operational mechanism of the typewriters varied, with the 1933 mechanism comprising a number of white metal parts and the 1934 and later mechanisms featuring a 1-piece cast part.
5 The original boxes for the 1933 typewriters featured a plain design that flipped open for display and the 1934 and later boxes featured an attractive litho showing children playing with the typewriter. However, it should be noted that some of the 1934 typewriters apparently were packaged in the earlier box style.