The Gearhart Knitting Machine company generated machine sales by customer referrals, by placing ads, and by using Agents. In this very early letter from 1890, Joseph has written a form letter to be sent to prospective Agents. This letter also contains one of the earliest examples of the company letterhead, and the introduction by way of illustration to his re-designed machine.
In this letterhead, he calls this machine the H.S. Knitting Machine. H.S. stands for High Speed, which indeed it was compared to his first design. This machine’s name succeeds the earlier name Peoples Knitting Machine, and comes before the names Peoples High Speed Knitting Machine, Gearhart’s Family Knitter, Gearhart’s Improved Family Knitter, Gearhart Knitting Machine and Clearfield Knitting Machine.
Also within this same early timeframe, but somewhat later since the the price has been raised from $8.00 to $11.00 for the same model, he published a more formal request showing up to $200 per month in sales commission.
You probably can’t read this, so I’ve reprinted the introduction below. It is interesting to note the typographical error, which should read [an agent]. I wonder if this means that Joseph was working completely alone, without any help at all, paid or otherwise? I must assume that this might be the case, otherwise a typo would not have slipped through. All in all though, I think its a very nice and well-constructed ad.
WE WANT AGENTS IMMEDIATELY in every town and county in the United States to sell our Improved Knitting Machines, and in order to get them at once we are making the following special offer for $11.00 FOR THE $14.50 OUTFIT. This offer is only good for a limited length of time, and as soon as all the territory is taken up you will be oblig to pay the regular retail price, which is $14.50.
If you want the best article you ever sold, or to be ngent [an agent] of the best seller to be found on the market, you should loose no time, but secure a sample outfit at once, and start to work. Any man or woman with but little experience in this line can make from $100 to $200 a Month Selling Machines, as nearly every family will buy a machine when they once see it in operation, and the rapidity with which the work can be turned out.