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Sunday, 21 August 2011

On This Day in Typewriter History (XCI)

The ability to comfortably carry a portable typewriter in a case played a critical early part in what was to be the unrivalled success story of the Corona 3.
New York State Senator Benn Conger (below) was travelling to New York Central Station by train from his home in Groton in May 1909 when he chanced to spy a young lady in his carriage lift a leather case on to her lap, open it and begin to type a letter.
So taken was he by this that two months later, Conger and his cronies approached the Rose family and offered widow Catherine Marcley Rose and the late Franklin (Frank) Sebastian Rose’s son George Francis Rose $150,000 for the rights to their Standard Folding machine.
Ten years later, in 1919 alone, Conger’s Corona company sold $4 million worth of portables. The Corona 3 was well on its way to everlasting glory. More than 700,000 of them were made from 1912 to 1941.
Something to not just carry a Corona 3 in, but also to use as a travelling desk, was on the mind of Southwell Willman, of Spokane, Washington, when on this day in 1916 he applied for a patent for a typewriter desk case.
Willman wrote in his specifications, “The present invention relates to a portable typewriter desk case, which may be carried by hand, and which is adapted particularly for use by travelers to permit typewriting en route and where suitable desks and tables cannot be had. The object of this invention is to provide a case of convenient size and shape to be carried by hand in the manner of a suit case or traveling bag, which encloses and protects a typewriter, and papers, and other stationary articles necessary and convenient when using the typewriter, and which serves as a desk to support the typewriter when the case is placed on a car seat, a chair, or the like support.”
The patent was issued on November 13, 1917, by which time Willman already had another similar patent in the pipeline, this time one specifically aimed at the Corona 3. Willman had previously patented a rather nifty calendar cabinet in 1914.
Southwell Willman was born in Wisconsin on January 17, 1867, and died in Sandpoint, Idaho, on September 30, 1951, aged 84.

The other patent we are looking at today had me rather excited, until I realised Winifred can also be a man’s first name. informs me that Winifred is mostly a girls' name, but it is used for boys 0.11 per cent of the time.
Popularity of the name Winifred for boys:
First year in the Top 1000: 1918
Last year in the Top 1000: 1918
Highest percentage: 0.005% in 1918
Best rank: No 990 (in 1918)
Represented in the Top 1000 names: 1 of 127 years (0.79%)
I figure Winifred M. Patton of Chicago might have been born around 1918. Can’t say for sure.
Anyway, Winifred’s typewriter, for which he or she applied for a patent on this day in 1937, is rather interesting, a keyboard machine with a large, elevated typewheel.
Winifred’s patent was issued on December 13, 1938. Winifred didn’t give up there, because almost exactly 15 years later he or she was issued with another typewriter patent (above), this time relating to the key lever and typebar mounting.

Ringgold Wilmer ‘Ring’ Lardner Jnr was born on this day in 1915 in Chicago. The son of Ring Lardner (below), he was an American journalist and screenwriter blacklisted by the Hollywood movie studios during the Red Scare of the late 1940s and 1950s. He died, aged 85, in Manhattan on October 31, 2000.
Frank McCourt, like Southwell Willman, apparently liked to travel with a Corona 3. Francis ‘Frank’ McCourt was born on this day in 1930 in Brooklyn.
McCourt was an Irish-American teacher and Pulitzer Prize–winning writer, best known as the author of Angela’s Ashes, an award-winning, tragicomic memoir of the misery and squalor of his childhood. McCourt died in Manhattan on July 19, 2009, aged 78.

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