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Saturday, 23 May 2015

Atatürk, the Sultan, his Harem, the Remington 7 Arabic-Ottoman Typewriter and its Role in a Zionist Charter for Palestine

No typewriters shall pass this door. A eunuch guards the harem of Sultan Abdülhamid II, photo by Russian journalist Vlas Mikhailovich Doroshevich (1864-1922).
One of the more disturbing revelations (at least for me) to emerge from events last month marking the centenary of the Anzac landings at Gallipoli concerned the Turkish reinterpretation of the 1915 conflict as a holy war. The Australian politely described the move as contrary to "Gallipoli tradition". 
The real hero of Gallipoli: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in 1923
Apparently young Turkish students are being taught the revised version of their history, to the neglect of Gallipoli hero and avowed secularist ­Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the army officer, revolutionary and first President of Turkey who is credited with being the founder of the Republic of Turkey.
Such teachings are being guided by Turkey’s Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose push to view Turkey’s military triumph at Gallipoli as a victory for Allah reflects growing tensions between ­Islamists and secularists in his country. Erdogan's shift towards Islamism includes an ambivalence towards ISIS, terrorists who have no apparent regard for history. One Australian newspaper said the rise of the "new Turkey" was "scary".
Whatever the Prophet Muhammad's influence on the defence of Gallipoli, it was the more immediate impact of Atatürk and his resolute forces which won the undying respect of Australians and New Zealanders, and not just the Anzacs.
Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, Atatürk led the Turkish National Movement in the Turkish War of Independence and established a provisional government in Ankara. He then embarked upon a program of political, economic and cultural reforms, seeking to transform the former Ottoman Empire into a modern and secular nation-state. Under his leadership, thousands of new schools were built, primary education was made free and compulsory, and women were given equal civil and political rights, while the burden of taxation on peasants was reduced. The principles of Atatürk's reforms, upon which modern Turkey was established, are referred to as Kemalism.
One of the more notable events reflecting Atatürk's modernisation of Turkey came on November 1, 1928, when he introduced the new Turkish alphabet and abolished the use of Arabic script. The new alphabet was a variant of the Latin alphabet, its adoption was quick, and literacy rose from 10 per cent to more than 70 per cent within two years.
As a direct result of this change, Atatürk was in 1929 able to lift the ban on the importation of typewriters. The ban had been put in place in 1901 by the 34th Sultan of the Ottoman EmpireAbdülhamid II, following the arrival in Turkey of a consignment of 200 US-made typewriters. The Turkish Government announced that its customs department had blocked their entry on the grounds that, armed with a typewriter"anyone would be able to type seditious writings without fear of comprising himself". The department erroneously believed there was "no characteristic about typewriting by which the authorship can be recognised - there is no distinct feature about it, as with handwriting, by which the person who used the machine can be traced". The US Embassy tried unsuccessfully to convince Turkish authorities to "take a more reasonable attitude".
Sidney Nowill
From 1919 the Remington Typewriter Company's agent in Turkey was Englishman Sidney John Payn Nowill (1894-1956), based in Moda outside Constantinople (now Istanbul). But typewriter sales were at that time still limited to foreign companies with branches in Turkey and to missions. With the introduction of the new alphabet, the Turkish Government's equipment supply department, the Devlet Malzeme Dairesi, immediately set about importing 4000 Latin alphabet typewriters. Nowill negotiated the deal for Remington, allowing little mark-up for himself on Remington's cut price offer. Remington rewarded its agent with 100 free typewriters, a rare act of generosity by this notoriously frugal company. The US Government also used Remington and Nowill as go-betweens with Leon Trotsky, who from February 1929 until 1933 was in exile at Büyükada off the coast of Constantinople.
This background leads us to the saga of the one-off 1901 Remington Model 7 Arabic-Ottoman standard typewriter.
The intriguing and hugely involved story has been difficult to piece together, because of its many divergent parts. The slender threat holding it all together is this single typewriter.
Robert McKean Jones
The typewriter was specially designed for the Ilion company by Robert McKean Jones, with the linguistic aid of American Semitic scholar and Zionist Richard James Horatio Gottheil. Remington made the typewriter at the request of Austro-Hungarian journalist, political activist and writer Theodor Herzl. It was basically aimed at being a bribe to induce the 34th Sultan of the Ottoman EmpireAbdülhamid II, to allow Herzl to attempt to negotiate with the Sultan for a Zionist charter of Palestine. Herzl's continued offers of the typewriter to Abdülhamid II failed in their objective. According to Anglo-Jewish Zionist leader Israel Cohen in his 1959 book Theodor Herzl: Founder of Political Zionism, a work which closely follows the long-running tale of the Ottoman-Arabic Remington 7, it was ultimately rejected by Abdülhamid II,  much to Herzl's annoyance. Certainly, Herzl's bid to establish a Zioinist charter for Palestine was unsuccessful. However, according to A Global Middle East: Mobility, Materiality and Culture in the Modern Age, 1880-1940,  edited by Liat Kozma, Cyrus Schayech and Avner Wishnitzer and published by I.B. Tauris this year, this Remington 7 "was rediscovered during a thorough search of the Sultan's belongings at the Yildiz Palace following his dethronement" [in 1909]. The book goes on to say that the Remington Typewriter Company featured this particular machine as an opening topic in its first issue of Remington Notes, in 1907.
Is the typewriter still here?: Opulence in the Cihannuma Kiosk of the Yildiz Palace. It appears not to be, but there is a Remington No 92 in the museum of palace collections, the Saray Koleksiyonları Müzesi in Istanbul:
McKean Jones was a typewriter historian, linguist and typographer with Remington. In the 1920s he became the manager of Remington's development department. He was born in Wirral, Cheshire, England, in July 1855. McKean Jones is best known for his Japanese (katakana) and Chinese ("chu-yin tzu-mu") phonetic alphabet typewriters (adaptations of existing Remington typewriters). Henry Harper Benedict said McKean Jones was "the most prolific writer on typewriter topics and perhaps the best authority [on typewriters] in the world".  With William Ozmun Wyckoff, McKean Jones wrote a history of the typewriter in (Johnson's) The Universal Cyclopedia of 1900. McKean Jones died in his winter home in Stony Point, New York, on June 19, 1933. 
An inaccurate article (at least in terms of who ordered the change to the Turkish alphabet) on McKean Jones appeared in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle on June 16, 1929.
Syrian artist Selim Shibli Haddad (1864-) patented this Arabic type for a typewriter while living in Cairo, Egypt, in 1899. His machine is said to have been made by Smith Premier in 1904. It followed McKean Jones's 1901 Remington 7. Arthur Rhuyon Guest and Ernest Tatham Richmond, of London, England, also patented Arabic type, later in 1899. In the following years, attempts to design Arabic language typewriters were made by Charles E.Smith for the Union Trust (1912), Vassaf Kadry of Constantinople for Underwood (1914), John Henry Barr and Arthur William Smith for Remington (1917) and Friedrich Wilhlem Müller in Dresden, Germany (1925).
Another claim for an Arabic typewriter, made by Royal, came from Palestinian-American literary theorist Edward Wadie Said on behalf of his father, Wadie Said, a businessman in Jerusalem in the British Mandate of Palestine. Said senior served in the US Army component of General John J. Pershing's Allied Expeditionary Force in World War I. He and his family were granted US citizenship due to his military service and moved to Cleveland before returning to Palestine. In 1919, Wadie Said established a stationery business in Cairo. He was a Protestant Christian.
Barr and Smith
Theodor Herzl (1860-1904) was one of the fathers of modern political Zionism. He formed the World Zionist Organisation and promoted Jewish migration to Palestine in an effort to form a Jewish state. In Constantinople in June 1896, Herzl gained the assistance of Count Filip Michał Newleński (Philip Michael Nevlenski), a sympathetic Polish émigré with political contacts in the Ottoman Court, in an attempt to present his solution of a Jewish State to Sultan Abdülhamid II. Herzl was able to put his proposal to the Grand Vizier, Khalil Rifat Pasha: the Jews would pay the Turkish foreign debt and attempt to help regulate Turkish finances if they were given Palestine as a Jewish homeland under Turkish rule. Five years later, on May 17, 1901, Herzl did meet with Abdülhamid II, but the Sultan refused Herzl's offer to consolidate the Ottoman debt in exchange for a charter allowing the Zionists access to Palestine.
Sultan Abdülhamid II
In his book, Israel Cohen said Herzl's many subsequent letters to the Sultan remained unanswered. In December 1901 "he sent still a further letter to inform the Sultan that the Zionist Congress would be meeting again in a few days' time, that he would dispatch a message of homage at the opening of the proceedings, and would be grateful to receive in reply an expression of his Majesty's goodwill. To make as sure as he could of a favourable response, he informed [Turkish statesman and administrator Cihangirzade] İbrahim Bey, in a covering letter, that he had obtained a typewriter with Turkish-Arabic letters, specially made in America for the Sultan, and that it would be tried out in Europe for the first time at the Turkish Embassy in Vienna." Cohen wrote that Herzl was annoyed that his gift was not accepted.
Abdülhamid II (1842-1918) was the last Sultan to exert effective autocratic control over the fracturing Ottoman Empire. He ruled from August 31, 1876, until he was deposed shortly after the 1908 Young Turk Revolution, on April 27, 1909. Although expected to be a progressive ruler before his coronation, Abdülhamid II suspended the short-lived Ottoman constitution and parliament in 1878 and seized absolute power, ending the first constitutional era of the Ottoman Empire. Often known as the Red Sultan or Abdul the Damned, Abdülhamid II became more reclusive toward the end of his reign as his worsening paranoia about perceived threats to his personal power and life led him to shun public appearances.
No typewriters for these lassies: A few of Abdülhamid II's harem with their eunuch guards before a trip to Vienna. Another member was apparently a Michigan dancer, Stella Murphy (1878-), who joined the Sultan's "59 other wives" in his "garden harem" in 1893.
These phobias led to Abdülhamid II banning typewriters from his harem, and to this story appearing in The New York Times on May 20, 1901, just before Herzl's attempt to give his Remington Model 7 to the Sultan:
Richard Gottheil
Herlz's assistant in the typewriter project was Richard James Horatio Gottheil (1862-1936), an English-born American Semitic scholar, Zionist and founding father of Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity. From 1898 to 1904 he was president of the American Federation of Zionists and attended the second Zionist Congress in Basel, establishing relationships with Herzl and Max Nordau. From 1904 he was vice-president of the American Jewish Historical Society and from 1901 one of the editors of the Jewish Encyclopedia. He wrote the chapter on Zionism which was translated into Arabic and published by Najib Nassar in his newspaper al-Karmil.
San Francisco Chronicle, November 25, 1923

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Bin Laden and the Balmy Typewriter-Banning Bishop

Within 24 hours of me posting about the archaic Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher and his 1955 bid to ban typewriters, the US Government revealed that Osama bin Laden was studying Fisher in his hideout in Pakistan when US Navy Seals raided the compound in May 2011.
The loopy Fisher, right
My post on the crazy British cleric came four years too late to be of any use to bin Laden, of course. Nonetheless, it might help to explain to the mystified US Office of the Director of National Intelligence, at least in part, why the al-Qaeda leader would have kept profiles of Church of England bishops at his compound. The commandos found a document entitled "Profiles of the bishops in the Church of England" among a stack of English-language files amassed by bin Laden.
US authorities did not release the actual profiles of the bishops bin Laden was interested in, and simply listed the document among 10 other religious files the seals found. Given bin Laden earnestly plotted to send the world back to the Dark Ages, however, it might well be assumed he would have agreed with Fisher's antiquated ideas.
These included:
. Typewriters could cause wars.
. Sunday afternoon drivers were the Britain's greatest enemies.
. At worst the H-Bomb would send a whole bunch of innocent people on their way to another world.
. Although all men were equal within the love of God, they were not equal within the sight God.
. If you weren't a Christian or a Communist you were an amiable nonentity.
. Arguing about capital punishment was very unfair to anyone thinking about murdering someone.
. Authors had succumbed to the last infirmity of a mundane mind.
And yes, Nick Bodemer, he was being serious ...

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Make Typewriters, Not War

Ban Barmy Bishops, Not Typewriters
The typewriter peace sign
Was this Blighty’s Biggest Buffoon?
-class clown, Archbishop Fisher
Pius XII in 1949
While Pope Pius XII typed on the pontiff's Olivetti Studio 42 portable in the Vatican City, at Lambeth Palace in London a goofball Archbishop of Canterbury pointlessly pontificated – on typewriters, the H-Bomb, Catholics, Communism, divorce, Sunday afternoon jaunts in the country and wide American roads.
And in each case, that archbishop, a feebleminded fool called Geoffrey Francis Fisher, made a complete and utter idiot of himself.
Of typewriters, this ignoramus told the British Council of Churches in March 1955 “the dangers of a world war would be reduced if typewriters are abolished”.
Yes, Typospherians, that's right – throw away your typewriters now, or risk the threat you pose to world peace!
According to a page one story in The Canberra Times on March 19, 1955, Fisher Gump went on, “If typewriters were abolished tomorrow, there is a general feeling that a great mass a vapid thought, which goes on between human beings, would be vastly reduced and the danger of war would be vastly deceased.
“Everybody is so busy talking about things and circulating memoranda and having meetings, that a great deal of truth is lost at the bottom of the well.”
The real truth here is that this blockhead bishop was as nutty as a fruitcake and completely lost at the bottom of the well of intellect.
Dolt of the Year
In case one is wondering - yes, this blunderer really was being serious, and yes he was living in the 20th century - right in the middle of it, no less. But thinking? No way, Jose …
The world has moved ahead, even if ever so slightly, in the past 60 years. What one of the world’s two most influential religious leaders could get away with in 1955 nobody would be so stupid as to think they could say today.
Utica Daily Press, March 18, 1955
According to the novelist Roald Dahl, Geoffrey Fisher was a sanctimonious hypocrite who took far greater pleasure from beating to a bloody pulp the naked backsides of Repton schoolboys than he ever did from gently tapping the keys of a typewriter. Dahl remained adamant about the joys Fisher got from smoking a pipe while flogging a bare adolescent bum.
Australian newspaper headline
Fisher Gump was the duffer who, after being a headmaster at Repton, became the Archbishop of Canterbury – and thus the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion – from 1945 to 1961. In those 16 years, this klutz cleric’s proudly and openly expressed opinions probably did more harm to the Church of England than any other single person had done since Bloody Queen Mary in the mid-16th Century.
Fisher was a slow-witted, thick-skinned dunderhead who in one year alone – 1955 - expressed some of the most extraordinarily reactionary, bigotted and insensitive statements ever uttered by a church leader in the 500 years of Protestantism. More than any other Archbishop of Canterbury before or since, this bonehead exemplified the man who - while whatever passed for a brain inside his moronic head remained strictly in neutral - opened his mouth and put his slippered foot fairly and squarely in it. This act became, for Fisher, truly an art form.
Where's me blessed glasses?
Fisher's statements in 1955 alone –
Archbishops were frequently maligned “and I don’t give two hoots”.
The hydrogen bomb: “At its very worst, all that it could do would be to sweep a vast number of persons at one moment from this world into the other and more vital world, into which, anyhow, they must all pass at some time.”
Wipe ' em out, bish ...
Communism: “Our statesmen and country must, under God, take every possible political step to to deliver us from the threat of Communism.”
Progress: “Mankind as a whole has bitten off more than it can chew, and instead of helping man forward, every invention and discovery really lands him in more of a mess.
Roman Catholics: “The greatest existing hindrance to the advance of the Kingdom of God among men”.
Divorce: “The Church of England will not tolerate divorce under any circumstances.” Britain’s divorce rate was as “beastly as the Mau Mau”. (He said that in Kenya!)
Support for Princess Margaret to marry Peter Townsend: “A popular wave of stupid emotionalism”.
People who go on Sunday afternoon drives in the countryside: “The greatest enemies to Britain.”
The real enemy
Commercial TV: Freedoms extended the press (“for good or evil) are out of the question for television.”
Newspapers: Offer “journalistic exploitations of sex”.
Race: “Although all men are equal within the love of God, they are not equal within the sight God.” “The colour bar is not the sort of thing we should get excited about or fanatical over.
United States roads: “I would much rather have our [British] roads, where at least we only kill each other one by one.
Very funny, Fish ...
Frankly, even now, I find these Fisherisms offensive in the extreme, and not in the least bit amusing.
Here are a few from other years to be going on with:
"The long and distressing controversy over capital punishment is very unfair to anyone meditating murder."
"Who knows whether in retirement I shall be tempted to the last infirmity of mundane minds, which is to write a book."
"I have asked myself once or twice lately what was my natural bent. I have no doubt at all: It is to look at each day for the evil of that day and have a go at it, and that is why I have never failed to have an acute interest in each morning's letters."
"There are only two kinds of people in the modern world who know what they are after. One, quite frankly, is the Communist. The other, equally frankly, is the convinced Christian. The rest of the world are amiable nonentities."

Sunday, 17 May 2015

The Blickensderfer 5 Super Typewriter and the Arab Super Sports car

Imagine owning both of these? Better still, imagine being able to not just own and admire both of them, but to type with a Blickensderfer 5 and drive an Arab Super Sports car? Antony Brian Demaus was able to do both because he was still using his Blick 5 into the 1980s, and because he had fully restored his Arab.
On March 1, 2011, I posted on an exchange of letters which had appeared in the British magazine Motor Sport in August and September 1961 - not, as one might expect, regarding vintage sports cars still in use, but vintage typewriters still being used. This flurry of correspondence had been sparked by the passing mention of a 1893 typewriter which remained in good working order.
Little did I know at the time of posting about these 1961 letters that the 1893 typewriter was a Blick 5 owned by vintage sports car expert Brian Demaus. Or that Demaus had continued to use his Blick 5 for at least another 20 years.
Last Friday I was digging through the Australian National Library's Trove collection of digitised newspapers, looking for typewriter-related stories from The Canberra Times from 1932-72 with which to print on transfer paper and decorate an Olympia SM9 (previous post).
Lo and behold, to my considerable surprise, I came across this image from The Canberra Times of June 9, 1980:
It turns out The Canberra Times had been holding on to this photo for a very long time, because the image was taken in February 1975 and The Ottawa Journal had covered the accompanying story (without the photo) on its page 2 on April 7, 1975:
When Demaus won this competition, he was a science teacher at St Michael's College, Tenbury Wells, an independent international boarding school in Worcestershire, England.
Brian Demaus teaching science at St Michael's College.
But his CV extended away beyond teaching science. Born on Boxing Day 1923, he had served in the Royal Navy toward the end of World War II and was a much-published author on subjects ranging from naval to motoring history. Last heard from, he was living at Stagbatch Farm, Leominster, in the Welsh Borders, an area he had known for more than 80 years, since 1932.
Demaus's 1926-27 Arab 2.0-litre low chassis Super Sports car was auctioned by Bonhams at Weybridge in December 2011 and was expected to fetch between $200,000 and $240,000. Bonhams rated it one of the world’s rarest cars, and said it was one of only two known survivors of the first low chassis Arab (there were no surviving high chassis Arabs). It was designed by Reid Antony Railton (1895-1977), who called the car Arab in the belief it shared the characteristics of an Arab portrayed in T.E. Lawrence’s The Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1922) - a proud, honourable and fearless warrior. The year Lawrence's book came out, Arab Motors was founded by Railton, with two members of the Spurrier family, in Letchworth, Hertfordshire, following his departure from Leyland Motors, where he had assisted the company's chief engineer, J.G. Parry-Thomas, on the design of the Leyland Eight luxury car. Letchworth Garden City was laid out as a demonstration of the principles established by typewriter inventor Ebenezer Howard. As one of the world's first new towns and the first garden city, it inspired other projects around the world, including Canberra.
During his ownership of this model, Demaus restored the Arab to its original specification of 1929, retaining Thomson & Taylor’s original coachwork and rebuilding the engine and gearbox. It was originally completed with engine number EA 12 but in 1936 was fitted with EA 20 from one of Railton's earlier racers, the Spurrier Railton. 
Returning to the 1961 editions of Motor Sports, reference to Demaus's Blick 5 first brought a response from a reader who “regularly uses an 1896 Remington Standard No 7, which has cost only 9 shillings for replacements in 13 months, these being a new ribbon and a new fabric band connecting the spring to the carriage”. “All the keys produce letters and all the mechanics work as they are meant to … I certainly would not part with it for any modern machine; I consider the £5 it cost well spent.”
The following month, similar claims were made about five other typewriters. F.B. Humphrey of Ipswich wrote in praise of his Oliver No 9, “bought for £1 twelve years ago. It was made in 1913 … The conclusion is that vintage machinery is completely practical and reliable and far more economical to ‘run’ than present-day tinware.” James B. Nadwell of Dumfries in Scotland was still using a 1919 vintage “Corona Folding Portable which I purchased for 60 shillings”. It had originally been sold by Dodge & Seymour (China) Ltd. “I consider my expenditure on the 692 parts which make up this machine a very good investment.” R. Michael Dawe of Highgate, London, was using a Blickensderfer No 7. “The mechanics of this machine are a joy to behold – and all for 2 shillings 6 pence at a jumble sale. It has not been used much so would you advise raising the compression-ratio and fitting Webers; this should improve performance, because having a repertoire of 84 symbols it takes rather a time to isolate the one desired!” Thirteen-year-old Peter Marx of Ferndown was writing on an Empire portable with a patent date of March 29, 1892. “It has given me reliable service for a year, since purchased at an auction, together with a carpet sweeper, for the princely sum of 10 shillings.” Finally, H.N. Holden of Bath wrote about a Remington Standard No 2 bought at auction by his father for 10 shillings. “The key-bed is in the form of a well and the rods connecting the keys to the letters are made of wood for part of the way, followed by metal wires about as thick as bicycle-wheel spokes …” 
Below, the image of Brian Demaus as it appeared in The Canberra Times in 1980: