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Friday 26 October 2012

On This Day in Typewriter History: Manning's Good Typing Vibrations

PART 156
Ever had that problem of leaving two impressions of the same character on the paper as you type? A “shadow” of the letter? Being a heavy-handed, two-fingered typist, I’ve thought of it as something which, for 57 years, has been peculiar to me. Some of the typewriters I’ve used, however, have been much worse than others (notably the Olivetti Valentine). I’ve blamed the lack of proper machine balance, creating extra vibration as one types.
Well, it turns out to be far from a new problem, and not one all of my own. On this day (October 25) in 1898, one of typewriter history’s greatest mechanical engineers, Edward James Manning, set out to overcome it.
Edward James Manning
In a patent application, Manning wrote, “Heretofore in type-writing machines of the [typebar] character to which this invention relates, great difficulty has been experienced because of the liability of a type giving a double impression when only a single impression is desired.
“This is largely due to the typebars being set in vibration by the impact of the type against the platen to cause the initial imprint to be made upon the paper. The second or third impression is given by the typebar vibrating while the type thereon is still in contact with the platen or the paper on the platen.
“It is essential that the typebars have considerable length and that they be made as thin as possible in order that sufficient leverage be given to cause the imprint to be made without difficulty, to allow the typebars to be mounted in the smallest possible space, and to enable them to be made as light as possible consistent with the work that is required of them.
“For these reasons it will be understood that the typebars cannot be made of such proportions that the liability of vibration will be decreased except at the sacrifice of other important features of the machine.
“The object of my invention is to effectively overcome the liability of a double impression being made without shortening the length of the typebar or increasing the thickness thereof, the invention, on the other hand, allowing, when desired, of the typebar being made of greater length and of less thickness than has been practicable heretofore.”
Edward James Manning’s place in typewriter history has been reasonably well recorded, largely from his “conspicuous work” in the early development of the Hammond typewriter.
Manning went on to hold senior positions with two other giants in the industry: Underwood and Royal.
What is perhaps less well known is that Manning also worked closely with perhaps the greatest typewriter inventor of them all, Franz Xaver Wagner.
Franz Xaver Wagner
Indeed, this 1898 means of preventing “double impression” was assigned to the Wagner Typewriter Company. That Manning applied for this patent in 1897 is interesting, as it indicates that even after Underwood had got its hands on Wagner’s visible writing patents in 1894, and the Wagner company had started to make typewriters for Underwood, the Wagner company continued to work on typewriter developments in its own right.
Note the Underwood ad states
Wagner Typewriter Co
Edward Manning was always a brilliant mechanical engineer, never an inventor per se. So it would seem entirely appropriate that he and Wagner should work together – although it would also imply that there was at least briefly an industry imbalance: two of the very best men in the business working for the same outfit.
Manning was definitely one of the very best, and other typewriter companies recognised that. Once the Wagner company fell by the wayside, Manning was offered a senior post by Underwood. He was then headhunted by Royal, as Royal entered the industry with much gusto and began to rapidly expand. That Manning was pursued, and did switch camps, is indicative of how highly valued he was, and how earnestly his services were sought.
In a profile of Manning, written in 1909 for Men of Mark in Connecticut, when Manning was general manager and superintendent of the Royal Typewriter Company in Hartford, said Manning was “well known throughout the typewriter industry”.
He was, it said, “an example of a successful businessman who began his career from the bottom of the ladder, and has steadily kept climbing”.
Manning was born in New York City on November 12, 1865, to Irish parents who had immigrated to the US in 1848. His father was an iron moulder. Edward Manning gave up a college education to financially assist his large Catholic family, although he had passed examinations at 14.
In 1880, aged 15, “he followed his natural bent towards the ‘machinist's trade’” and became an apprentice in New York, starting at $3 a week, learning to design and construct machinery and tools used in the manufacture of watches and jewellery. This apprenticeship lasted four years, during which time Manning attended evening high schools, where he studied mechanical draughting, mathematics and bookkeeping. “He also read broadly, not only along technical lines but history and romance.”
In 1884, after a few months further experience in various machine shops, Manning became a mechanic at the Garvin Machine Company, which was at the time making the Hammond typewriter. Within two years he advanced to the position of chief inspector.
In 1886, Manning left Garvin to join the Hammond Typewriter Company and remained with Hammond for seven years, overseeing the massive expansion of Hammond as its machines constantly evolved and became increasingly in demand.
Note reference to the speed of the Hammond
Manning was Hammond’s mechanical expert and became a member of its advisory board, being consulted on all the company's projects. Manning’s involvement with Hammond extended beyond  technical developments and board decisions. He also became so expert at demonstrating the Hammond typewriter that for two years (1889-91) “he was acknowledged to be the most rapid typewriter operator in the world, and travelled for the Hammond company throughout the United States, Canada and parts of Europe, giving exhibitions of rapid writing in all of the principal cities of these countries … He was never defeated in any contest.”
In John H.McClain’s 1891 book Typewriter Speed and How to Acquire It, Manning was one of the six leading speed typists of the time who contributed articles. The others were Frank Edward McGurrin, Mae E. Orr, Emmeline S. Owen, Thomas W. Osborne and George Alexander McBride.
Manning, while travelling and demonstrating his speed skills on the Hammond, also acted as a general sales agent and a mechanical expert for the company.
In 1893 Manning organised and became secretary and finally president of the Typewriter Inspection Company. At this time Manning began working with Wagner and patented a number of technical advances assigned to Wagner’s company.
In 1896, “the first Underwood visible typewriter was placed on the market [and] Manning, having been associated with the inventor [Wagner] since the first model of the machine was built, in 1895 … was engaged as factory manager and expert by the Underwood company”.
Manning remained with Underwood for 11 years, during which time he worked closely with the Norwegian-born designer Oscar Carl Kavle. “He [Manning] was prominently connected with the Underwood company's wonderful development in every way throughout this period, starting the manufacture of their products with less than a dozen workmen in 1896. They employed upwards of 1800 factory operatives at the time he resigned in 1907.”
Ed B.Hess
In April, 1907, Manning was lured away from Underwood by Edward Bernard Hess, who had just months earlier established the Royal Typewriter Company. It was a move which did not go down well with Underwood.
Manning was appointed Royal’s general manager and the superintendent of its factories, first in Brooklyn and later in Hartford. It was Manning who “recommended to move the Royal factory from Brooklyn to Hartford due to the large number of skilled workers and more room for expansion. Since the Underwood factory was also in Hartford, he was well acquainted with the area.”
One month after Manning joined Royal, in May 1907, Royal purchased 5 1/4 acres in Hartford as the site of its new factory. Original plans called for floor capacity of 250,000 square feet, and the factory would cost of $350,000. Typewriter production began in 1908 and continued into the 1970s.
Manning was rewarded for his services to Royal on January 1, 1911, by being promoted to vice-president under Thomas Fortune Ryan’s eldest son, Allan Aloysius Ryan.
Allan A.Ryan
George Edward Smith succeeded Ryan in 1914. Manning’s position as general manager was taken by English-born Charles Belnap Cook (1876-), who had worked under Manning for 14 years, including at Underwood, where he started as a stock room boy.
Charles B.Cook
Manning left Royal in 1914 to become one of the organisers of the Federal Adding Machine Company, which interestingly enough had Charles Spiro design a typewriter for it.
Despite a Charles Wales adding machine design, Colt's manufacturing in Hartford, heavy advertising and meeting selling costs as high as 45 per cent with a direct mail “experimental selling plan”,  whereby buyers could be their “own salesman” – “You, who use and need adding machines - would you rather BUY one for $222.50 or BE SOLD one for $300”, the company still failed. Its assets were greedily gobbled up by M & M in 1931. M & M offloaded the Federal machines as cheaply as it could:
Manning avoided this mess by retiring at age 55 in 1920, a relatively wealthy man. Describing himself as a “retired mechanical engineer”, he declared in the 1930 US census he had real estate worth at least $36,000. He died at Hartford Hospital of a cerebral hemorrhage  on March 9, 1938, aged 72.

1 comment:

shordzi said...

Thank you very much for this excellent post!