The Noiseless 8 (1932-41) is one of the more unusual-looking Remington portables from America's Deco age. Its faceted design makes it stand out from the pack, as does its size. The No. 8 is not very heavy, and it comes in a carrying case -- but it is one of the largest portables ever made. The irony is that the original, three-bank Noiseless Portable of 1921 was a tiny machine. After Remington bought the Noiseless company, they developed a four-bank Remington Noiseless Portable (1931), followed the same year by the slightly larger Remington Noiseless No. 7. But the No. 8 was a quantum leap: even though its mechanism is identical to that of the No. 7, it is dramatically beefier. The No. 8's wide carriage accepts paper 11.25" wide. Even the Remington name on the paper table is in relief, emphasizing the sturdiness of this machine.
An advertisement from November 1932 (quoted below) claims that the No. 8 can switch, with the "touch of a button," from noisy to noiseless operation. A correspondent reports that there is no such switch on E13123 (made during the first month of production, October 1932). It may be that this feature was available only on the first 2,000 machines or fewer. The No. 9 is a peculiar machine that looks just like the No. 8, but is not noiseless. This all invites the question: why would anyone prefer a noisy typewriter, anyway? It's likely that some people found quiet typing disconcerting: they expected a typewriter to make a racket. The No. 9 was presumably developed for this niche market: people who liked the looks of the No. 8, but not its relative silence. (Ernst Martin comments in 1949, "A certain degree of noise in writing is required for confidence. Without such noise, the writer would not know whether the type was actually printing or not, so he would lose control.")
Some Remington portables were made by the hundreds of thousands, but this model and its noisy twin are relatively unusual. 27,499 No. 8's were made between October 1932 and May 1941, with serial numbers from E11100 to E38598. 6,839 No. 9's were made between February 1933 and January 1941, with serial numbers from F10000 to F16838. Almost all specimens of both models were made before 1938. A touch regulator (affecting the force of the blows of the typebars) was added to both models only in the spring of 1938, so if your machine has a touch regulator it is quite unusual (there were 854 such No. 8's, and only 126 such No. 9's). A name variant for the No. 8, "Smith Premier No. 8," is also a desirable rarity.
We close with an illustration and text from a charming full-page ad that appeared in Fortune magazine in November, 1932. The great Art Deco illustration is a cross between a cat, the Noiseless No. 8, and the Maltese Falcon!
You can turn off the Noise
Noiseless typewriters are not new ... they are used by private secretaries of over 100,000 important executives ... but this Remington is a New Noiseless ... more compact, lighter, modern in design. It has a faster carriage return and greater visibility. It is literally two typewriters in one, instantly convertible from noisy to Noiseless operation without affecting its conventional touch.
These remarkable new features with the sturdy construction and reasonable price, comparable with the cost of ordinary typewriters, combine to make it a practical, all-purpose business machine.
This new Remington Noiseless makes it possible to turn off, by
the mere touch of a button, the stacatto, nerve-wracking clatter
of typewriting ... to subdue it to a murmur, no more diverting
than a kitten's contented purr. It banishes the office's most
dreaded noise, that hammer-like P-O-U-N-D-I-N-G that stifles
ideas, interrupts concentration and puts the brakes on profitable
efficiency. You will find this New Remington Noiseless the most
efficient typewriter you've ever had in your executive or general
offices. Let us send one to you on trial. Telephone or write to
our nearest branch office or headquarters in Buffalo.
PS: The illustration is based on this sculpture by Jan Joël
Martel (photo by Thérèse Bonney, 1926).