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Monday, 19 August 2013

Thurber's Kaligraph Up For Auction

Martin Donnelly, of Martin J. Donnelly Antique Tools, Avoca, New York, contacted me a couple of hours ago to let me know that "an unused example of Charles Thurber's 1857 and 1860 patent 'Kaligraph' in its original shipping crate" is coming up for auction on September 21 in Nashua, New Hampshire.
The auction listing can be seen here.
My blog post on this machine can be seen here.
Martin has additional detailed photos available in a PDF file for interested buyers. Here are some scanned images from the PDF:
The anticipated price range is $6000 to $12,000.
The machine is 26 inches long.
Martin J. Donnelly
The item description reads, "A perfectly preserved example of THURBER'S PATENT 'KALIGRAPH' as patented and produced by Charles Thurber of Worcester, Massachusetts. This example incorporates Thurber's June 23, 1857, patent headed 'Calligraph' and his November 27, 1860, patent 'Caligraph' in a device designed for the replication of lettering. Thurber was, for many years, regarded by many as the 'Father of the Typewriter' based on his US Patent No 3228, dated August 26, 1843, for a 'Chirographer'. Early historians of typewriting focused on Thurber's two major contributions to the technology of the typewriter - the concept of a cylindrical carriage and the advance of a line at the end of the page with a 'carriage return' without realizing that the 'typewriting' produced by Thurber in 1843 was not produced using the patented machine. As later researchers realized that Thurber's invention, in the form that he produced it, was totally impractical, he was 'read out' of the typewriting Founding Fathers. Writing in his 1997 book Antique Typewriters, Michael Adler delivered the coup de grace to Thurber, noting, in respect to the Thurber inventions encapsulated in the tool: 'The interesting and revealing point is that he abandoned typing in favour of a retrogressive monstrosity which was doomed from the start. Given the climate of the time, he gave up mechanical typewriters, which did not work and no one wanted, in favour of a machine which produced the handwriting which they apparently did want.'
"This example of Thurber's 1857 and 1860 patents is in brand new, unused condition in its original protective wooden shipping crate with original shipping label and all original accessories. All of the gold embellishment remains on the sides of the device, which is lettered with the designation 'Thurber's Patent Kaligraph', the 1860 patent date and floral decoration. Essentially all of the original black japan finish remains on this magnificent example that is in the same condition as it was when it was produced more than 150 years ago. Incidentally, Thurber died in Nashua, New Hampshire on November 7, 1886, at the age of 83.
"An early, important and perfectly preserved example of one of the great dead ends of 19th Century inventive technology. A 'retrogressive monstrosity' and a truly great antique tool."

An artist's impression of Thurber at his Patent Printer.


Richard P said...

Thanks for the link to your excellent research on Thurber. Mr. Donnelly contacted me too, and no doubt other collectors. It is quite an amazing device, in excellent condition.

Martin A. Rice, Jr. said...

The photos look nothing like the painting/drawing. So, what does this one up for auction do, just copy handwriting??