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Monday 11 August 2014

How the Union Typewriter Trust's tentacles reached Australia

This photograph appeared in the Sydney Bulletin on September 24, 1898. The caption read, "A camel laden with typewriters on the Goldfields of Westralia [Western Australia] affords picturesque evidence of the push and penetration of the United Typewriter and Supplies Company. It also shows that the Westralian miner has firm conviction of the value of writing love-letters in a style that will not constitute proof in a court of law." 
The United Typewriter and Supplies Company, which established agencies for Caligraph (New Century), Yost, Densmore, Smith Premier and Monarch typewriters throughout Australia from 1895, was a subsidiary of the notorious Union Writing Machine Company, a secretive United States cartel formed by Remington in the early 1890s.

Typewriter Topics, 1912
The Australian network was established by an Englishman, Henry Gray Cambridge (born New Ferry, Cheshire, 1868; died Sydney, August 9, 1922) who was sent to Australia by Milton Bartholomew (1855-1927), managing director of the trust-controlled Yost Typewriter Company on the Holborn Viaduct in London (where Cambridge had been Bartholomew's assistant). This was also the English headquarters of the United Typewriter and Supplies Company.
At the time of setting up the UTSC in London, both Bartholomew and Cambridge worked for one-time London Lord Mayor Sir Sydney Hedley Waterlow (1822-1906), above, a judge of typewriters at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition, as a British Government executive commissioner at the exhibition. Sir Sydney, a “captain of [the printing] industry”,  was assigned to the Paper, Stationery, Printing and Book-making section of the exhibition, where he was one of seven judges.
Harry Cambridge, who on behalf of the Union trust established the United Typewriter and Supply Company in Australia in 1895.
George Washington Dickerman
On his arrival in this country, Cambridge was met and instructed by George Washington Dickerman (1859-1928), vice-president of the Remington company (and therefore of the trust) who had travelled out to Sydney from New York expressly to lay the groundwork for the trust's offshot. Dickerman had previously had a close involvement with the Smith Premier, Densmore and American Writing Machine (Caligraph) companies. Dickerman travelled twice to Australia in 1895, arriving in Sydney on the Mariposa on June 24, leaving in August, and returning on December 11, each time sailing from San Francisco through Honolulu and Auckland. Cambridge and Harding arrived in Sydney on the Orizaba on July 28.
Brisbane Courier, October 1896. The Courier got it wrong, as Cambridge was the managing director of the UTSC and organiser of the company's spread in Australia. It later corrected itself:
William Harding with his wife, Gertrude Isabel Bowden, sister of John Bowden (below)
Cambridge and a shorthand typist called William Thomas Harding (1870-1912) toured Australia, giving talks on the history of the typewriter and typing demonstrations with trust-controlled models. They also appeared at stenographer gatherings. Bartholomew also sent out Harding's brother-in-law, John Frank Batthews Bowden (1871-1951), who was associated with the Yost, New Century and Monarch brands in England. Bowden's movements, from Western Australia to North Queensland and on to New Zealand and then Sri Lanka and India, were all directed by the trust from New York.
 Dickerman and Cambridge stayed in close contact with each other right through to 1915, by which time the trust had been reorganised as simply the Remington Typerwriter Company (still owning such brand names as Monarch and Smith Premier). By 1913, when the trust effectively ceased to exist, Remington's sole agency in Australia was Chartres. United Typewriter and Supplies, however, continued to operate into the early 1920s.
Densmore imported into Australia by the United Typewriter and Supplies Company, now at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.
The true history of the Union Writing Machine Company, also known as the Union Typewriter Company, remains shrouded in mystery. Little wonder. As late as December 15, 1899, the Wagner Typewriter Company told Judge Emile Henry Lacombe of the United States Circuit Court in New York that the combine was a secret organisation for the reason that it was an "illegal concern" under the Federal Anti-Trust Law  and the statutes of the State of New York, and therefore "had no standing in court". Legal documents held in the Smithsonian Institute Research Information System concerning a typewriter patent infringement dispute between the S.S.White Dental Manufacturing Company, proposed makers of the Brooks typewriter, and the Williams Typewriter Company, include a copy of the 1890 incorporation certificate of the Union Writing Machine Company.  This company was certainly paying taxes in New Jersey in 1892.
Yet the consensus is that the trust was formed in 1893. In Worked Over: The Corporate Sabotage of an American Community (2003) by Dimitra Doukas, the author says "trusts had to be secretive" but that the Ilion Citizen had reported on January 20, 1893, that Remington had formed a trust. "In April of that year all was revealed when the typewriter trust incorporated (in New Jersey) as the Union Typewriter Company ..." In fact, the Union Writing Machine Company had been incorporated as a New York Foreign Business Corporation on January 3, 1893. QWERTY historian Koichi Yasuoka adds, "On March 30, 1893, the Union Typewriter Company, known as the Typewriter Trust, was formed ..."

Was it formed under different names, making it almost impossible to track? It was certainly incorporated in difference places at different times. Its charter was dissolved in New Jersey in 1898. In New York it was allowed to do business as a "foreign corporation".
What is certain is that on July 7, 1894, a subsidiary company called the United Typewriter and Supply Company, headquartered in New York, was incorporated in West Virginia. The aim of this company was to distribute and market Union trust typewriters overseas - including in Australia. Since Remington already had an Australian agency deal in place with the Stotts, these typewriters were the Caligraph, Yost, Densmore, Monarch and Smith Premier.
Harry Cambridge in later life.
The Australian network was completed by Harry Cambridge in 1896. In Melbourne, Frederick William Zercho had the agency, in Sydney James Edward Cunningham and Dora Elizabeth Armitage, in Brisbane John Speechly Gotch (of Gordon and Gotch fame), Reeves & Co in Adelaide and in Perth another Englishman, Horace Summers

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