Antique Typewriters

Antique Typewriters

Typewriters, a long history of success

If the invention of writing marked the beginning of history itself, the appearance of the typewriter made it possible to refine this technique to unsuspected limits. The first great example came around 1865 under the signature of Rasmus Malling-Hansen. This prototype, named Malling-Hansen in honor of its in...

Typewriters, a long history of success

If the invention of writing marked the beginning of history itself, the appearance of the typewriter made it possible to refine this technique to unsuspected limits. The first great example came around 1865 under the signature of Rasmus Malling-Hansen. This prototype, named Malling-Hansen in honor of its inventor, was not exactly the first machine of its kind, but it was a pioneer in terms of its commercialization. The path continued in the following decades with the contributions of Remington or Hammond among others, which brought the machines to high levels of popularity. In the first decades of the 20th century, their use was already universal thanks to firms such as Smith Premier or Olivetti, with the arrival of the electric models developed by the International Business Machines Corporation. Today, such a fascinating world is the object of desire of collectors from all over the world.

The great names in antique typewriters

If the general history of typewriters is fascinating, knowing the who's who of the manufacturers who popularized them is a must for collectors.

  • Remington: driven mainly by the American Christopher Latham Sholes, it was the first major manufacturer.
  • Caligraph - American Writing Machine Company: perfected the manufacture of typewriters to compete head-to-head with Remington. It operated between 1880 and 1908.
  • Hammond: founded by James Bartlett Hammond in 1880, his workshop produced the first polyglot machine and a new technical concept. It kept its original name until 1926.
  • Yost: synonymous with sophistication, it was born in 1888 driven by George Yost, who had previously worked with Scholes and Caligraph. It remained on the market until 1908.
  • Smith Premier: another representative of the early stages of the typewriter industry emerged in 1890 from a gun factory (L.C. Smith & Brothers) and was acquired by Remington in 1908.
  • Olivetti: already in the 20th century, Camillo Olivetti was the driving force behind the first major European company (1908). Unlike its predecessors, it is still active today, although oriented towards electronics.
  • Underwood: John Thomas Underwood founded it in 1895 and, despite starting behind its main rivals, managed to survive almost all of them and continues to manufacture (with a different orientation) today.
  • Many more: Densmore or National Typewriter Company would be other notable examples among several dozens of them

Types of antique typewriters

The first major criterion for classifying these antiques is whether or not they have a keyboard. In the first case, those with an index stand out, which were in turn divided into those with a circular, quadrangular or linear format, being very rare examples and, therefore, coveted. Among those with a keyboard, the main classification criterion is the key stroke (lower, upper, front, rosette...). Finally, the keyboard layout is another important factor for placing machines in one category or another. In spite of the common characteristics, each historical model has some singularities that make it unique and valuable.

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