Books and Other Third-Party Histories

Of the Typewriter

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Note: For a more extensive bibliography, see Richard Polt's bibliography in his "Percy Smock Corner".

There has been an unfortunate tendency in the history of typewriter collecting to reprint older texts under different names. While this adds excitement to the harmless drudgery of the bibliographer, it can be confusing to the novice enthusiast.

Please note as well that these are all secondary sources (even the old ones), not primary documents. They all contain errors. The most carefully researched modern general history is probably Michael Adler's The Writing Machine (1973) , to which reference should be made continually while evaluating other sources.

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Jenkins (1894)

Jenkins, Henry Charles. "Type-Writing Machines." (Cantor Lectures of the Society of Arts, delivered 1894-04-30) Journal of the Society of Arts. Vol. 42, Whole NO. 2,183 (Sept. 21, 1894): 839-853. Includes illustrations of Vickers (1846) [drawing], Foucault (1850) [the standard very low-detail drawing], Hughes (1851) [photograph], Thomas (1851) [schematic drawings], Wheatstone (early) [drawing and photograph], Wheatstone ("second period," two machines) [photographs], Beach [drawing], Francis [detail drawing], and Pratt [photograph], as well as a sample of writing from Thurber's "Chirographer" (1845).

Digitized by Google from the Stanford University copy. The icon at left links to an extract of this paper from that digitization.

[click image to read at The Hathi Trust]

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Mares (1909)

Mares, Geo. C. The History of the Typewriter: Being an Illustrated Account of the Origin, Rise, and Development of the Writing Machine . (London: G. Pittman, 1909.) 318pp. Mares' book is without question the most important early secondary source and comprehensive survey of the history of the typewriter.

This book has been scanned by Google from a damaged copy belonging to the University of California. It is not at present (2013) available via Google Books, but it is available one page at a time (outside the premises of subscribing institutions) at The Hathi Trust. (This access may be limited to the US only). Hathi catalog page: http://catalog.hathitrust.org/010883239. The icon at left links to the presentation of this work at The Hathi Trust. The quality of the images in this digital reproduction is at least as good as (sometimes better than) those in the 1985 Post reprint. However, pp. 7-8 are in the wrong place in this scan and pp. 15-16 and pp. 313-314 are missing entirely. Note also that the 1985 Post reprint contains as a frontispiece a facsimile of the 1829 Burt "Typographer" patent's first page. This is not present in the Google scan of the UC copy, but without inspection of a known-intact copy we have no way of knowing if it was present in the original or was an addition by Post.

Here is a local copy of the Google scan of the UC copy, assembled from the Hathi Trust page images (83 Megabytes): mares-1909-history-of-the-typewriter-hathi-uc1-31158004104245.pdf. In the version as presented by Hathi pp. 7-8 (image 9-10) are in the wrong location. In this local copy I've put them in their correct location. As noted above, pp. 15-16 and pp. 313-314 are missing. I believe that pp. 15-16 contained typewriter-made portrait of Queen Victoria and a facsimile letter from the 1845 Thurber Chirograph. I have indicated this with a note in this local PDF copy, but have not included versions of these. I've re-typed the text of pp. 313-314, using the Post reprint as a source, in this local PDF copy (as the text itself is in the public domain in the US), but have not reproduced the illustration from it (as Post asserted new copyright on his edition); it is a cartoon depicting a donkey typing on a fictitious typewriter the keys of which resemble hooves.

The original volume is now a rare and expensive antiquarian book (I've never even seen a copy).

This book was reprinted in 1985 by Dan R. Post as The History of the Typewriter: Successor to the Pen (q.v.)

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Iles (1912)

Iles, George. Leading American Inventors. (NY: Henry Holt and Company, 1912). This is a popular book of industrial hagiography which contains one chapter on Christopher Latham Sholes. It has all of the faults of a work of this type, but does have a photograph of an 1873 Sholes machine.

[click image to read at The Internet Archive]

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Le Duc (1916)

Le Duc, William G. "Genesis of the Typewriter." Minnesota History Bulletin, Vol. 1, No. 5 (Feb. 1916): 264-268. This is a brief, un-illustrated memoir by Le Duc on his own experiences with early developers of the typewriter, including Glidden and Sholes.

Digitized by JSTOR and available via The Internet Archive or jstor.org The icon at left links to the presentation of this article at The Internet Archive. It is available at jstor.org at http://www.jstor.org/stable/20160161

For convenience, here are local copies of the PDF and DjVu verions:

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Odin. Evolution of the Typewriter. (1917)

Odin, C. V. Evolution of the Typewriter. ([no location]: [by the author?], 1917)

A rather opinionated history of the typewriter from a Underwood salesman's point of view. It contains a number of line drawings of various machines (as well as a halftone frontispiece of its author). It is notable, however, both because it is an early attempt to chart the technical history of the typewriter through the identification of the invention of particular features and because it contains a series of diagrams explaining the keybar actions of several typewriters.

This book has been digitized by the US Library of Congress from its copy. The Notebook linked from the icon here links to that presentation and also re-presents extracts of its many line drawing of typewriters and (more importantly) typewriter keybar action and escapement mechanisms.

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Weller. Early History... (1918)

Weller, Charles E. The Early History of the Typewriter. (La Porte, Indiana: Chase & Shepherd, Printers, 1918.) "From a paper read at the Tenth Annual Convention of the National Shorthand Reporters' Association." It includes a portrait of Sholes, a photograph of Kleinsteuber's Machine Shop in Milwaukee, a photograph of Sholes' burial plot, and two photographs of the July 14, 1868 Sholes patent model.

This has been digitized twice by Google. One digitization is from the Harvard University copy. The icon above left links to a local copy of this version. The other digitization, of the New York Public Library copy, is missing pages. Here it is: weller-1918-early-history-of-the-typewriter-google-nypl.pdf

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Herkimer County (1923)

Herkimer County Historical Society. The Story of the Typewriter: 1873-1923. (Herkimer, NY: Herkimer County Historical Society, 1923). A history of the typewriter on the 50th anniversary of the first Remington, by the local historical society in the county of NY where it was manufactured. It includes some good images, but also some misinformation. See a good modern study such as Michael Adler's The Writing Machine (1973) for corrections of these.

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Typewriter Topics (Oct. 1923)

The October, 1923 issue of Typewriter Topics (Vol. 55, No. 2) was a special historical number devoted to the history of the typewriter. It consisted largely (but not entirely) of an anonymous but very long illustrated article entitled "A Condensed History of the Writing Machine: The Romance of Earlier Effort and the Realities of Present Day Accomplishments." This article was reprinted in the same year as a book (shorn of the original ads in the magazine) under the title The Typewriter: History & Encyclopedia. The book version was reprinted in 1982 by Dan R. Post, with additional matter (as Collector's Guide to Antique Typewriters) and again (without additional matter) in 2000 by Dover Publications (as The Typewriter: An Illustrated History) .

I have an old photocopy of the original magazine, which (despite its poor image quality) I've scanned and put online.

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The Typewriter: History & Encyclopedia (1923)

This was a book-format reprint of the anonymous long article, "A Condensed History of the Writing Machine: The Romance of Earlier Effort and the Realities of Present Day Accomplishments," which comprised the bulk of the The October, 1923 issue of the trade journal Typewriter Topics (Vol. 55, No. 2). See Typewriter Topics (1923) , above, for further information and an online reprint of the original magazine (albeit one of very poor image quality).

This 1923 book was reprinted in 1982 by Dan R. Post, with additional matter (as Collector's Guide to Antique Typewriters) and again (without additional matter) in 2000 by Dover Publications (as The Typewriter: An Illustrated History) .

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Adler. The Writing Machine. (1973)

Adler, Michael. The Writing Machine. (London: George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., 1973)

Richard Polt describes this book as "scrupulously researched" and "a keeper." I concur.

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Collector's Guide to Antique Typewriters (1981)

Post, Dan R., ed. Collector's Guide to Antique Typewriters. (Arcadia, CA: Post-Era Books, 1981.) ISBN: 911160-86-8. This is a reprint of the The Typewriter: History & Encyclopedia (1923) , which was the book version of the October, 1923 historical number of Typewriter Topics (q.v., for digital reprints). Post's reprint contained an additional Foreword and also numerous advertisements reprinted from other contemporary magazines (that is, the reprinted ads in it are not those of the original Typewriter Topics October 1923 number).

Post's edition is in copyright. I believe that his stock was bought out by Ernie Jorgensen of Office Machines Americana: http://www.officemachinemanuals.com They still (2013, at I write this) offer it as a "New Book" at a reasonable price. I don't know if this is a new printing or new-old-stock. (Even though it is a history, you can find it in the "Operating Manuals" section of their website.) It's worth getting this Post edition as a standard reference even if you have the originals.

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"... Successor to the Pen" (1985)

History of the Typewriter: Successor to the Pen. (Arcadia, CA: Post-Era Books, 1985.) ISBN: 0-911160-87-6.

This was a reprint of Geo. C. Mares' The History of the Typewriter: Being an Illustrated Account of the Origin, Rise, and Development of the Writing Machine (1909) , which is now freely available online. Note that this 1985 Post reprint, while apparently done photographically, differs in several ways from the original. (See, for example, p. 15 of the Post reprint, which is p. 14 of the original and which differs in its illustrations.) The Post reprint has as a frontispiece a facsimile of the first page of the 1829 Burt "Typographer" patent. This does not appear in the Google digitization of a damaged copy of the 1909 original from the University of California, but absent an examination of a known-intact copy we have no way of knowing if it was present there or not. The Post reprint also omits the advertisements which appeared on pp. 315-318 of the original.

The 1985 Dan R. Post reprint is presently available from Ernie Jorgensen of Office Machines Americana, but only as a "photo reprint" (go to the "Operating Manuals" section of their catalog): http://www.officemachinemanuals.com

Post's edition contains a Foreword and various Publisher's Notes. I cannot but help comment on the penultimate note, which says that "Minor restorative efforts have been taken with the original material to reduce distractions from faulty or damaged Linotype images." While I'm sure that he did minor photo touchup, this statement is nonsensical. The Linotype is a composing machine which produces (lines of) type. It has nothing whatsoever to do with image making, and unless you're talking about a picture of a Linotype there is no such thing as a "Linotype image." Trust me; I collect Linotypes.

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The Typewriter: An Illustrated History (2000)

Linoff, Victor, ed. The Typewriter: An Illustrated History. (NY: Dover Publications, 2000.) ISBN-10: 0-486-1237-7. 128pp.

This was a Sept. 2000 reprint by Dover Publications of The Typewriter: History & Encyclopedia (1923) , which in turn was the book version of the October, 1923 historical number of Typewriter Topics (q.v., for digital reprints) .

As I write this in 2013, the 2000 Dover reprint is out of print and both used and new-old-stock copies are outrageously priced.

Th 1923 book of which this Dover volume is a reprint was also reprinted, with additional material, by Dan R. Post in 1981 . New copies of the 1981 Post reprint are, as of 2013 at least, still available at reasonable cost.

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