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Sunday 16 December 2012

Overseas Exports for US Typewriters: Christmas 1921

Here's a question for the Christmas Typewriter Trivial Pursuit contest: Which of the following 20 countries imported the greatest number of US-made typewriters in the month of October 1921 (try to rank them in order of US dollar value for typewriters imported, if you can. The answer is below).
I say Christmas 1921 because, travelling by ship, these typewriters would have been arriving in most if not all of the listed countries (including Australia) in time for Christmas sales.
 You may be surprised to see that Germany is not among the Top 20 countries, all of which imported more than $US6000 worth of typewriters each (high figure, almost $US300,000). But, unlike England or Italy, Germany's own typewriter manufacturing industry was in full flourish at this stage. Here are the 20 in alphabetical order:
Indonesia (then Dutch East Indies)
The Netherlands
Puerto Rico (US territory)
Scotland (can't explain why it is listed separately)
South Africa
(Cuba just misses out, but topped the $US6000 mark)

OK, so here is the list from the January 1922 issue of Typewriter Topics, which gives a breakdown of the figures for October 1921:

So the Top 20 in order is this (in thousands of dollars):
1. England 296
2. France 171
3. Canada 62
4. India 57
5. Scotland 38
6. Argentina 35
7. Italy 33
8. Belgium 25
9. Spain 21
10. Indonesia 18
11. Mexico 17
12. Egypt 15
13. China 13
14. Austria 12
15. Switzerland 12
16. Puerto Rico 11
17. Australia 10
18. South Africa 10
19. Brazil 9
20. The Netherlands 6

To underline how poorly, by comparison, the British typewriter industry was doing at this time (at least in terms of exports), here are the British figures from the same issue of Typewriter Topics:
*Ceylon is now Sri Lanka

And in Canada:
All up, from North America (the US and Canada), the United Kingdom imported almost $340,000 worth of typewriters in October 1921 . 


maschinengeschrieben said...

Now that would be interesting to track the market shares of those countries over the entire century of typewriters!

Robert Messenger said...

Hi Florian. Yes, I agree. I was just thinking that I should to put together some more years, 1905-1935.

Scott K said...

Later in 2012: Robert Messenger and Scott Kernaghan make up 50% of the typewriter imports into Australia...

Robert Messenger said...

Ha! Very funny Mr Kernaghan! I just hope to goodness we don't bid against one another. We'll have to coordinate. But I suspect I might know two others helping the trade.