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Tuesday 11 November 2014

Back to the Garden at Woodstock: Celebrating an American Beauty, the Oliver Typewriter

By the time we got to Woodstock
We were fourteen hundred strong
And everywhere there was song and celebration
And I dreamed I saw the typers
Riding those typebars in an arch
As they turned them into butterflies
Above our Olivers
And we've got to get ourselves
Back to the garden
- with apologies to Joni Mitchell
1907 was a big year for the Oliver Typewriter Company, with the opening of the Dearborn Street building in Chicago on May 1, the new No 5 model, and improvements to its Woodstock, Illinois, factory (opened in 1896).
The distinctive reliefs were made by the American Terra Cotta and Ceramics Company from $1 a ton clay shipped to Crystal Lake. The designs were by Karl Schneider.
Mounting department
1902 baseball team
 In 1909, Fred F. Main, of Columbus, Ohio, even designed a pneumatic carriage return for the Oliver. Sadly, instead he sold the rights to Underwood (which didn't produce it anyway).
 Oliver nonetheless forged ahead to one million typewriters by 1922, the year it launched its No 11 "Speedster"
But the Woodstock plant closed in 1928


Bill M said...

Another one of your great posts Robert.
I've been searching for a nice Oliver since I started my collection. These are some of the neatest typewriters I've ever seen.

Richard P said...

Ah, that was the heyday of Oliver, when they introduced the no. 5. I wish I could travel back in time. The next best thing is your post.

shordzi said...


Joe V said...

Thank you, Robert. Another great article. Stay strong.

Don Lampert said...

Great tribute to the Oliver Typewriter Company! But, I need to make one correction - The ornamental work on the Oliver building in Chicago is cast iron, not Terra Cotta. It says so on the city of Chicago landmark plaque on the facade.
When the famous Oriental Theatre (around the corner on Randolph St, where Judy Garland was discovered) was restored as a performing arts center a number of years ago, they needed more backstage space, and gutted the back half of the adjoining Oliver building. What's left is the intact restored facade and only part of the buildings original interiors.
Back in 1975, When I was manager at the old Harris Theatre on Dearborn St. I would sit in the box office, and look right across the street, at the then, intact Oliver building. I was in love with it's beautiful facade, but had no idea what an Oliver Typewriter was. It took me about 35 years before I saw my first Oliver. Now I own four. Thanks Robert

Martin A. Rice, Jr. said...

Robert! Your best post yet, because the Oliver is the greatest 3 bank portable ever made!!