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Thursday, 12 February 2015

Typewriter Books

Two thousand and fifteen is shaping as the most exciting year for typewriter books since 1997. Not since two impressive tomes called Antique Typewriters came out that year has there been such a buzz of anticipation. Before 1997, the big year had been 1954, and before that 1923: in each of those years, two great typewriter works appeared. I know of at least three typewriter books in the pipeline for 2015, but I am certain that, like me, the vast majority of typewriter lovers will by now have just the one at the top of their must-buy lists.
 It is Richard Polt's The Typewriter Revolution: A Typist's Companion for the 21st Century. It is not due out until November 12, but can be ordered here. I have already pre-paid for my copy, and am keeping abreast of publication developments through Facebook. See other links here.
So, with typewriter books very much on my mind, here are some of my favourite typewriter publications from the past 106 years, at least the ones of which I own copies:

The History of the Typewriter: Being an Illustrated Account of the Origin, Rise and Development of the Writing Machine 
by G.C. Mares
 (Originally published by Guilbert Pitman, London, 1909; republished, hardcover, as The History of the Typewriter: Successor to the Pen by Daniel Roger Post, Post-Era Books, Arcadia, California, 1985)
The Dan Post reproduction
George Carl Mares was born in early 1862 in Lewisham, south-east London, the son of Richard Mares, a Plumstead "fancy box cutter". George Mares started work as a porter in Clerkenwell in London and was a shorthand writer when he married Sarah Vanner in 1888. That same year he published the monograph National Shorthand. The next year, Frederick Pitman published Mares' Rational Shorthand: A Script-Geometrical Syllabic Vowel-Connective System of Phono Stenography.
By 1890 Mares was running the School of Modern Shorthand in Plaistow and had published National Stenography: Being an Entirely New System of Shorthand. Employing Script Geometrical Signs, and Written Strictly According to the Rules of English Orthography (Part 1: The Corresponding Style)In 1891 Mares was a solicitor's clerk in East Ham and in 1901 an accountant's clerk. Although they had a young family, Sarah Mares was a working wife and ran a stationery shop and newsagency in Barking. Mares had sufficient independent wealth to be able to travel annually to the United States, at least until 1909.
By 1905 Mares had switched his focus to typewriters and had Guilbert Pitman publish his Art of Typewriting: Being Practical Instruction with Graduated Exercises and Model Examples Suited to any Machine, and Including a Method of "Touch" Writing.  The same year his typewriter history came out, Mares also wrote Systematic Business, or, How to Make a Bad Business Good and a Good Business Better, based on a series of articles he had had published in Typewriter Topics in the US. After the publication of his typewriter history, Mares and his daughter May Lillian Mares ran a patent medicine making business from the family home in Wanstead in north-east London. Mares died at Brentford in west London in September 1932, aged 70.
Evolution of the Typewriter
by C.V. Oden
(Published by the Underwood Typewriter Company, New York, 1917)
Charles Vonley Oden was born in Salem, Illinois, on June 2, 1864. He was for many years employed by the Underwood Typewriter Company, mostly in its Education Department. He died on July 23, 1925, at his home, Colonial Heights, in Tuckahoe, New York, aged 61.
The Early History of the Typewriter
by Charles E. Weller
(Self-published in La Porte, Indiana, 1918)
Charles Edward Weller, as chief operator for the Western Telegraph Company in Milwaukee in July 1867, and an associate of Christopher Latham Sholes, was involved in the very early development of the Sholes & Glidden. His ongoing involvement later included putting some of its first prototypes to practical tests, starting in January 1868, after Weller had became a shorthand court reporter in St Louis. Charles Weller was born in Michigan in October 1840. He grew up in La Porte, Indiana, and died there on February 13, 1925, aged 84. Weller's 1921 biography was titled Yesterday: A Chronicle of Early Life in The West, (including "Early Telegraph Days").
A Condensed History of the Writing Machine: The Romance of Earlier Effort and the Realities of Present Day Accomplishment
edited by Ernest M. Best
The Dan Post reproduction
The Dover reproduction
Above, the cover of the original version.
A photocopy of the original version can be read in full here.
(Originally published softcover as a commemorative issue of Typewriter Topics, the International Business Equipment Magazine, managing editor Ernest Merton Best, Business Equipment Publishing Company, New York, October 1923, to mark the 50th anniversary of the US typewriter industry; republished softcover as The Typewriter: History & Encyclopedia, by Geyer's Stationer and Business Equipment Topics, New York, 1924; hardcover as Collector's Guide to Antique Typewriters by Daniel Roger Post, Post-Era Books, Arcadia, California, 1981; and softcover as 
The Typewriter: An Illustrated History - Typewriter Topics by Dover Publications, Mineola, New York, 2000.)
 Ernest Merton Best, above left, and below on his 1910 trip to Europe.
Ernest Merton Best was born in Bradford, Ohio, on May 23, 1875. In 1904, as the financial backer of the publication, he was business manager of the Typewriter Trade Journal, of which George H. Patterson was editor. The following year Best and Patterson went their separate ways, Patterson starting Office Appliances and Best Typewriter Topics.
The Story of the Typewriter 1873-1923 
by Alan C. Reiley
foreword by John W. Vrooman
(Published by the Herkimer County Historical Society, Herkimer, New York, 1923)
Alan Campbell Reiley was born on December 7, 1869, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and educated at Rutgers College Preparatory School. He worked as an advertising clerk for the Remington Typewriter Company from 1900-28, until the merger with Rand-Kardex, and later became an author in the automobile exporting industry, co-authoring the 1931 book Onward Industry with General Motors executive James D. Mooney. Between 1901-10 Reiley contributed to a massive work, seven large volumes of History for Ready Reference, From the Best Historians, Biographers, and Specialists; Their Own Words in a Complete System of History by Josephus Nelson Larned. Reiley also wrote a history of the typewriter for the Encyclopedia Britannica. His son Alan Campbell Reiley Jr (1903-56) worked in South America for the Underwood Typewriter Company. Alan Campbell Reiley Sr died in the Bronx on February 3, 1947, aged 77.
John Wright Vrooman was the president of the Herkimer County Historical Society when he wrote the foreword to the book which the society produced to mark the 50th anniversary of "The manufacture of the first practical writing machines ... at Ilion, Herkimer County, New York, in the autumn of 1873". Colonel Vrooman was born (on March 28, 1844) and died (on November 25, 1929) in Herkimer.
Henry W.Roby's Story of the Invention of the Typewriter
by Henry W. Roby
edited by Milo M. Quaife
(Published by The Collegiate Press, George Banta Publishing, Menasha, Wisconsin, 1925)
Henry Wesley Roby
Henry Wesley Roby’s Story of the Invention of the Typewriter was written in 1905 and edited for publication by Milo Milton Quaife in 1925.  Roby was born in Harmony, Ohio, on July 29, 1842. His family moved to Wisconsin in 1846. In 1862 Roby enlisted as a private in Company K, 22nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, and he remained in service until 1865. During army service he studied phonetic shorthand writing and later worked for Bryant, Stratton & Co's Commercial College as a shorthand teacher. In 1867 Roby was appointed Official Phonographic Court Reporter for the counties of Milwaukee and Kenosha, during which time he befriended Christopher Latham Sholes. He held that position until 1876. But from boyhood his ambition had been to become a doctor, and in 1876 Roby entered Rush Medical College and later the Hahnemann Medical College of Chicago. In 1879 he moved to Topeka. He died there on August 21, 1920, aged 78. According to his obituary in the Topeka Daily Capital “he was involved in the invention of the Remington typewriter”. The truth is he had known Sholes in Milwaukee during the early development of the typewriter, and was a Sholes confidant. He frequented Kleinsteuber's workshop while the typewriter was first taking shape and afterwards tested some of the experimental models, though he was not a partner in the venture. His book "grossly exaggerated his own importance to the enterprise" (Current, see below). 
Die Schreibmaschine und ihre Entwicklungsgeschichte
by Ernst Martin
(Various hardcover editions published: 1920, Gauch, St Gallen; 1934, Johannes Meyer, Pappenheim; 1949, Peter Basten, Aachen; 2003, Leonhard Dingwerth, Delbrück, above)
Ernst Martin was born Emil Johannes Meyer in Frickenfelden on July 30, 1885. Starting at the age of 14, Martin developed an intense interest in office equipment, particularly calculators and typewriters. After training as a clerk he learned the English and French languages. He worked as a foreign correspondent following World War I, and in St Gallen in Switzerland completed the first edition of his extensive typewriter history. From 1922 until his death Martin worked as a writer and publisher in Pappenheim. He died there on October 31, 1949, aged 64.
The Typewriter and The Men Who Made It
By Richard N. Current
The Dan Post reproduction
(Originally published hardcover by the University of Illinois Press, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, 1954; republished hardcover by Daniel Roger Post, Post-Era Books, Arcadia, California, 1988)
Richard N. Current
Richard Nelson Current was born in Colorado City on October 5, 1912, and graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio in 1934He received a master's degree in 1935 from the Tufts University School of Diplomacy and a doctorate in history from the University of Wisconsin in 1940. Oddly enough for a typewriter historian, a bone disease, osteomyelitis, contracted as a teenager, left Current unable to straighten his right arm and kept him out of the armed services, though not from writing the first draft of his books in long-hand.
A noted Civil War historian, he published the first of more than 30 books in 1942. Current was the co-author of several textbooks on American history, as well as biographies of 19th-century congressional leaders Thaddeus Stevens, Daniel Webster and John C. Calhoun. It was after his typewriter work, starting in 1955, that Current became a authority on President Abraham Lincoln, one of the "deans of Lincoln scholars", addressing seemingly contradictory elements of Lincoln's life and thought, particularly about slavery and race. Current's elegant works on Lincoln led to a deeper understanding of the character of the president.
Dr Current in 1956
Current lectured on history on six continents, including Antarctica, and taught American history at Rutgers, Hamilton College, Mills College, the University of Illinois and the University of Wisconsin, but spent the largest portion of his career at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Known as a stickler for solid research and an occasionally sharp critical tongue, Current was a deft writer whose sensitive, stylish prose appealed to readers. Gore Vidal once accused him of being a "professional saint-maker'' and a ‘‘scholar-squirrel'' who "mindlessly gathers little facts.''
Current lived in Natick from 1987 and died of complications from Parkinson's disease at a hospital in Boston on October 26, 2012. He had turned 100 exactly three weeks previously.
The Wonderful Writing Machine
By Bruce Bliven Jr 
(Published hardcover by Random House, New York, for the Royal Typewriter Company, 1954)
Bruce Bliven Jr
Bruce Ormsby Bliven Jr was born on January 31, 1916, in Los Angeles, but moved to the Bronx in New York when he was 16 months old. He was a prolific writer of popular books and magazine articles on subjects as diverse as military campaigns and New York City. Bliven, who wrote for The New Yorker for many years, told The New York Times in 1982 that by putting his typewriter history in what he considered to be the proper perspective, it meant "biting the hand that fed him". The Wonderful Writing Machine was subsidised by the Royal Typewriter Company, which agreed to buy a sizable number of copies without imposing any editorial control. Bliven proceeded to give far more space to Remington than Royal liked. ''I think Royal was a little mad,'' he said.
Bliven received good reviews for many of his books and was known for his fresh, often unexpected approach. In 1970 he began to write about New York "to find out where I was". He wrote three books about the city's history and one about the whole state, ''including Buffalo''.  The books included The Story of the World's Most Exciting City. 
Bliven's father, Bruce Ormsby Bliven Sr (1889-1977), was also a journalist, working his way through Stanford University as a cub reporter for the San Francisco Bulletin and becoming managing editor of The New Republic. He was head of the University of Southern California School of Journalism from 1914-16 and after two years on the staff of Printer's Ink and four as an editorial writer and managing editor for the New York Globe, Bliven Sr joined the New Republic in 1923. His son inherited his father's liberal stance and joined him in quitting the Descendants of the American Revolution in February 1941 after the group opposed the Lend Lease Act aiding countries fighting the Nazis. In 1953, after suffering a heart attack, Bliven Sr returned to Stanford University, where he served as a lecturer in communications and journalism. 
Bliven Jr wrote briefly for a newspaper in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, and succeeded his father as New York correspondent for The Guardian in Manchester, England, before graduating from Harvard (where he was president of the Liberal Club) in 1937. He then wrote editorials for The New York Post, leaving to serve in World War II. He was a lieutenant in the field artillery and took part in the D-Day landings in Normandy. He wrote a book about it called The Story of D-Day, June 6, 1944 (Random House, 1956). When he returned to civilian life, he became a magazine writer who ranged across many subjects with deep knowledge.
Among Bliven Jr's other titles were The American Revolution: 1760-1783, From Pearl Harbor to Okinawa: The War in the Pacific 1941-1945From Casablanca to Berlin: The War in North Africa and Europe, 1942-1945, Under the Guns: New York 1775-1776, Battle for Manhattan and New York: A Bicentennial History. He was director of the Society of American Historians and a member of the Authors Guild, PEN and the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Bliven died at his home in Manhattan on January 2, 2002, four weeks short of his 86th birthday.
The Writing Machine:
A History of the Typewriter
(Published hardcover by George Allen & Unwin, London, 1973)
Antique Typewriters:
From Creed to QWERTY
(Published hardcover by Schiffer Publishing, Atglen, Pennsylvania, 1997)
by Michael H. Adler
Michael Hugo Adler in 1996
Michael Hugo Adler was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, on September 20, 1934, the son of a lawyer, Gerhardt Hans "Jan" Adler (1907-1973), who in 1937 counted among his clients Leon Trotsky. Jan Adler later became an industrialist in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires. It is uncertain exactly when Michael Adler settled in Australia, but on a trip to Rio in 1960 he was listed as an Australian citizen. It is claimed that he grew up in this country and studied music at the Sydney Conservatorium, leaving Australia in 1956. Adler backpacked around South America before settling in Caracas, Venezuela, and working as a journalist and foreign correspondent. He covered the golpes de estado of president Marcos Evangelista Pérez Jiménez, who was deposed in a coup on January 23, 1958. Adler moved to Rome, Italy, in 1967, where his interest in collecting typewriters was sparked by finding a Frolio 7 index machine at the Porta Portese flea market - he paid 100 lira for it. In 1976 Adler and his late wife Linda Lee Adler settled in Britain. They started up an antiques store called Fernfold in January 1991. Adler, 80, now lives in East Sussex in England.
Century of the Typewriter
By Wilfred A. Beeching
(First hardcover edition published by William Heinemann, London, 1974; second softcover edition published by British Typewriter Museum Publishing, Bournemouth, 1990) 
First edition
Second edition
Wilfred Albert Beeching was born Sidney Frank Appleton in Smallburgh, Norfolk, on September 9, 1918. He changed his name by deed poll in Bournemouth in October 1941. Five years later, after serving in World War II, Wilf Beeching entered the typewriter trade as a manufacturers' agent with an office machine shop in Bournemouth. The business must have been good, for in less than 30 years Beeching had accumulated a collection of some 350 rare early typewriters. In late September 1974 he opened his version of the British Typewriter Museum at 137 Stewart Road, Bournemouth. Unfortunately, in 1978, the site was closed by the land owner in order to build a car park and Beeching presented his collection to the Bournemouth Borough Council. The collection was insured by the borough through the Bournemouth Museums Service and the borough bought the museum's souvenir shop stock and all rights to the museum brand name for £1500. The museum was moved within the Rothesay Museum at 8 Bath Road and reopened as "a museum within a museum" on October 23, 1978. Beeching became an "honorary keeper" as part of the arrangements. The museum remained in operation until the demolition of the Rothesay Museum in 1985. Beeching was outraged and asked to take the collection back. The collection was split up, with some of it going to the Science Museum in London and other typewriters being sold to private collectors, including Uwe Breker. Beeching died in Bournemouth in July 2000, aged 81.
The Typewriter Legend
by Donald S. Sutherland
edited by Frank T. Masi
(Published by Matsushita Electric Corporation of America, Secucus, New Jersey, 1985)
Donald S.Sutherland in 2000
Donald Scott Sutherland was born in Harlem on January 21, 1944. He graduated from the Manhattan High School of Music and Art. His love for photography and writing was cultivated while working summers during high school writing text for the Montgomery Ward catalogue and later landing a job in a Manhattan camera store after graduation. His affinity with photography and dexterity with a camera would land him the role of the “Bolex Man”, as spokesperson and model in the Swiss company's print ad campaigns. Sutherland was a contributing photojournalist for Popular Photography for more than 20 years and contributing writer for Photo Trade News, covering national and international camera and electronics trade shows. He moved from Manhattan to his beloved Stapleton, Staten Island, in 1974, and to New Brighton in 2009. At one time he was editor-in-chief of the North Shore Press, a Staten Island publication. In a career of more than 40 years, ending with Marine News, his work was published in Playboy, Newsweek and many other publications. His 1978 cover article in New York Magazine was instrumental in the revitalisation of interest for historically significant homes on Staten Island. During the last 10 years of his life he chronicled and photographed tugboats and the workboat industry throughout the United States. His expertise with film and digital photography earned him freelance positions evaluating and critiquing new cameras and lenses for all of the major camera manufacturers.
Sutherland was one of those people who knew the precise moment his passion for collecting typewriters started. It was on December 8, 1968, when he went looking for a ribbon retaining screw for a L.C. Smith 8 that a friend had given Sutherland for helping him move. Sutherland chanced upon a typewriter repair shop called the All Language Typewriter Company. He found there for $25 a Hammond Multiplex with reversible carriage and open frame, spending his grocery money on the machine. It was, he said, "the beginning of the end". "I wanted to rescue all the fascinating gizmos I could find!" Of the 750 typewriters he did find, he was "most partial" to a Wagner-Underwood experimental model and a W.J. Hull, and his favourite was a Caligraph 1. Other interesting machines he owned were a Cash Typograph, Kanzler, 1888 Rapid, Manhattan, Yost 1, Brooks and Bar-Lock.
Sutherland once bought two machines from one man on the one day - a Ford for $75 and a Sholes & Glidden for $125. The "one that got away" was a Junior (Bennett) labelled a Paragon that he found but didn't buy in Hoboken. As far back as September 2000, Sutherland made very accurate predictions about the impact of eBay on skyrocketing prices for typewriters, including the Olivetti Valentine. 
As well as typewriters, Sutherland, in his final years a photojournalist for Marine News, collected magic lanterns, cameras and business machines. Sutherland died of cancer, aged 66, at his home in New Brighton, on May 24, 2010.
*I am indebted to Richard Polt for pointing out in a comment on this post that Sutherland wrote the text for this book, which I'd forgotten.
Frank T.Masi was born on March 31, 1939. In 1972 he was vice-president of marketing for Cascade Data Inc in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 1977 he left there to work for the Royal Typewriter Company in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1979 moving to Adler Royal Business Machines, of which he became president. At the time of editing this book for Panasonic, he was manager of the Panasonic Electronic Typewriter Division and general manager of the company's office automation branch. He remained with Panasonic until July 1987. Masi, now approaching 76, is president of the Masi Group in Orlando, Florida, which he founded in February 1989.
American Typewriters: A Collector's Encyclopedia
by Paul Lippman
 (Published hardcover 1992 by Original & Copy, Hoboken, New Jersey)
Paul Lippman, third from left, in Kansas City in 1991 with fellow collector-historians, from left, Darryl Rehr, Jay Respler, Jim Rauen and Uwe Breker.
Paul F. Lippman was born in Manhattan on June 24, 1928, the only child of a pharmacist of Russian descent. His father, Joseph, served overseas in World War I and was drafted again in World War II. It seems that immediately after the war, the family moved to California, where Paul attended schools in Berkeley and Oakland. But he was certainly back in New York in the early 1960s, when he was a copywriter for the award-winning advertising firm J. M. Mathes Inc in Greenwich Village. That's when he started collecting typewriters, beginning with a Corona 3. He was a pioneer among American typewriter collectors and, by running classified adverts in Hobbies Magazine, soon amassed a large and very impressive number of rare vintage machines. Among those he found was a Blickensderfer Electric, which Wilf Beeching twisted his arm to sell. He was also invited to look over some surplus machines for sale in the basement of the Milwaukee Public Museum (the Dietz Collection!). By the late 1980s, however, his health had begun to deteriorate after he had suffered a stroke, and he began to sell off his collection. He kept one machine, a decorated Sholes & Glidden. Lippman rescued the British journal Type-Writer Times when English collectors could not find an editor in their own country. As a result, the British group was renamed “Anglo-American”. Lippman also edited The Type Writer, a successor publication to Type-Writer Times. Lippman died of neurological problems in a New York hospital on April 3, 1995, aged just 66.
Antique Typewriters
& Office Collectibles
by Darryl Rehr
(Published softcover by Collector Books, Paducah, Kentucky, 1997)
Darryl Charles Rehr was born in California on July 31, 1950. In the 1970s, as a journalist, he bought himself a 1911 Royal No 5 and a 1908 Remington No 10 - not as collectibles, but to use. In 1984 he started collecting typewriters. He also began to write about typewriters, his first article appearing in Antiques and Collectables in 1986. He also wrote for Popular Mechanics, The Pittsburgh Press, Antique Trader Weekly, Pennsylvania Magazine, The Office Magazine, Business Electronics Dealer and Spokesman (National Office Machine Dealers' Association). In 1987 Rehr was one of the founders of the Early Typewriter Collectors' Association and was the founding editor of ETCetera. He edited the first 49 editions, from October 1987 to December 1999 (Nos 1 to 49).
From 2000 Rehr has concentrated on his career in movie and television producing, directing and writing. Credits include the TV documentary series The Universe, Life After People, Prehistoric Predators,  Secret Missions of the Civil War, History's Mysteries and Tales of the Gun
Mechanical Typewriters:
Their History, Value and Legacy
by Thomas A. Russo
(Published by Schiffer Publishing, Atglen, Pennsylvania, 2002)
Thomas Anthony Russo was born on July 26, 1932, in Kansas City. He graduated from the Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, Missouri, and attended Rockhurst College for two years and then enlisted in the US Navy in 1953. Russo served aboard the USS Midway and was honourably discharged in 1954.
Russo went to work for Remington Rand in 1954 and after five promotions during a 17-year period, he resigned in 1971 and started his own business, which became DEO Technologies, in Wilmington, Delaware, retiring in 1997. Now living in Garnet Valley, in 2005 he established the Thomas A. Russo Museum of Business History and Technology, a museum devoted solely to the evolution of business technology through the centuries, 3000 items showing the history of everything from primitive counting and adding devices to cash registers. Russo, 82, who also served as president of the 5000-member National Office Machine Dealers' Association, became a self-taught historian through collecting, and ended up the author of three books. The Russo collection, which includes James Watts' 1795 version of a copier and Thomas deColmar's vintage 1820 calculator prototype, also features magnificent cash registers, many elaborately adorned, as well as adding and billing machines, paging and calling systems, early postage meters, and photocopying devices.


Richard P said...

Thank you, Robert. And this is great biographical information on the authors of these fine books.

Don Sutherland was actually the uncredited author of The Typewriter Legend, as he told me and others confirmed.

Ted said...

excellent rundown! thank you - being a noob in this hobby, it's great to see some biography of the men who wrote the references that we're reading. :D

Anonymous said...

My fiance gave me a copy of Alder's book this year on my birthday. It's has a beautiful presentation, though, most of the information is on the typewriter companies than individual models.

Robert Messenger said...

Thank for Richard and Ted. Richard, I am indebted to you for reminding me that Don Sutherland wrote The Typewriter Legend. I have since updated this post with a biography of Don, a most fascinating man. RM

Bill M said...

Thanks for all the books Robert. I've had most on my wish list since I bought my first Hermes 3000 a few years ago. I have some of them and if I win the 500 million dollar lottery drawing tonight I may just be able to find and afford Paul Lippman's book.

Here is one not on your list Typewriters for Writers by Scott Schad. It was released in the 3rd quarter of 2014.

Robert Messenger said...

Hi Bill. Gee, I hadn't realised Paul's book was SO expensive. I did note a lot of them are described as "rare" but figured that was just book seller hype. I know the Post reprints can be expensive (Mares, Current etc), but the Current book is a good read. All it needs is an index. Bliven isn't so historically accurate, but he wrote entertainingly. I do hope the English version of Martin gets reprinted some day. The Martin and Muller books are also pricey. I hadn't heard about the Schad book, do you have a copy? One of my concerns nowadays is the uncredited lifting of material from this blog. See next post!