(October 7, 1933-August 2010)
RIPIt's now nine months since the typewriter collecting and treasuring world lost one of its heroes, Tilman Elster. But he is still sorely missed by all those fellow collectors who were fortunate enough to know him or to have had any contact with him.
The Christmas before he passed away, Tilman sent cards to his many friends around the world, wishing them the compliments of the season. On the front of the card was this wonderful photograph, taken at Tilman's late 18th century farmhouse at Herford in the North Rhine-Westpahlia in Germany. The photo was taken on October 27, 2009, of Tilman's cat cleaning itself in front of his [Underwood] Elliott-Fisher T12.
If you look very hard at the image at the bottom of this post, of just one part of Tilman's massive collection of more than 1400 typewriters, you will see the T12 in front of the back shelves, at ground level - and you may well suspect you see a cat resting on the top right. I do. (The images of Tilman, above, and of his collection are, by the way, scanned from the June 2006 issue of ETCetera, the journal of the Early Typewriter Collectors' Association, edited by Richard Polt).
What is it about typewriters and cats? I think I can work out why there so many images of women with typewriters, but cats? Maybe the attraction is explained by American writer Barbara Holland, who shared a birthday (April 5) with me (though she was 15 years my senior) and who died just a couple of weeks after Tilman, on September 7 last year.
Holland wrote the popular book The Name of the Cat (1988), which was updated and reissued as Secrets of the Cat: Its Lore, Legends and Live (1994, 2002, 2010).
In it she said:
A catless writer is almost inconceivable. It's a perverse taste, really, since it would be easier to write with a herd of buffalo in the room than even one cat; they make nests in the notes and bite the end of the pen and walk on the typewriter keys.
So here are some cats and some typewriters - let's start with Hemingway's cats, then and now:
Marlon Brando apparently liked cats around when he was typing, tooThis image was on a 60th birthday email sent to me by Richard Polt (who is my mentor!):
This is our Australian representative cat, apparently called GingerThe fascination with cats and typewriters is such that many people have posted such images on blogs, and on Flickr:
And cats have appeared with typewriters on calendars and in art, too:
Well blow me down, after all this I turn to the back page of the same issue of ETCetera - and what do I find? A photograph of a cat with a typewriter! Of all things ... (I think it was cat fate; now I'll have to go look for the Martin Howard article):
And two more cute shots I overlooked when I first published this post: