Monroe Myron Schwarzschild was born in Manhattan on Christmas Day 1886. I like to think of him as a big, fat, jolly sort of chap with a long white beard and a preference for red clothing, someone who once a year brought gifts and joy to children.
The last bit may be at least partially true. Monroe Schwarzschild and his busy law firm secretary – and later his wife – Belle Scheuer invented the famous “Busy Secretary” typewriting doll toy, which doubtless became a joyfully received children's Christmas gift over the ensuing 40 years or so.
The patent was issued on this day (November 16) in 1915.
Belle Scheuer, born in Lancaster, New York, on January 9, 1890, was a stenographer working for Schwarzschild when the two came up with this enduring typewriter toy. Monroe said to busy Belle one day, “You’re a doll”, and the idea grew (I made that up). With the proceeds from their invention’s immediate success, the pair got married on August 15, 1916, almost exactly one year after they had applied for the typing doll patent.
The Schwarzschilds sold the rights to their design to Louis Marx. In its most familiar form today, the typewriting toy was made in the 1950s by a Marx subsidiary in Japan, Linemar Toys.
The battery-operated tinplate red-haired, wide-eyed, yellow-skirted Busy Secretary sits in a red chair at a detailed tinprinted desk and typewriter. Oddly, although this was a Marx toy, the typewriter is branded a Tom Thumb.