English typewriter inventor John Gardner tries out a machine.
See the entry for the Gardner below.
Overreaching schemes and designs, a widespread reticence to invest in newfangled contraptions called typewriters, and a lack of qualified workmen all conspired to cause the “Great Typewriter Graveyard” that was Britain in the 20 years between 1884-1904. Here are some of the machines that came and, in most cases, pretty quickly went:
ANGLO-AMERICAN: In July 1885 a massive amount of newspaper publicity, most of it paid advertising, was given to a machine called the Anglo-American Patent Type Writer. Sadly, no images of it appeared. This machine was said to be of American design, with the patent rights offered to British investors, the plan being to manufacture it in England and sell up to 200,000 typewriters a year. A similar deal with the Singer sewing machine was cited as a shining example for potential shareholders. Since it only had 25 parts and would sell at three guineas, this was presumably some sort of small index typewriter, and was described as being suitable for a child to use. It was to employ metal type and produce up to 60 words a minute, as well as manifold. The corporation had offices at 58 Lombard Street in London and a supply of American-made machines was already in stock.
William Maxwell Douët
The AAPTW claimed to have gained British patent rights from a discredited former bank manager and merchant called John Tester through Jamaican-born William Maxwell Douët (1859-1926), secretary and a trustee for the corporation. It sought £100,000 capital in £1 shares. Alfred Eames, chairman of the Bromhead-Tester Manufacturing and Trading Co Ltd, was on the board, along with Tester, who was the Singer sewing machine importer. A year later two directors and major investors defaulted on 330 guineas worth of share payments, alleging fraud and misrepresentation was involved, and in 1887 Tester’s business stock was auctioned off. It seems the Anglo-American enterprise was nothing more than a double-dealing grab for quick bucks.
DAW: Thomas George Daw (1827-1893) was a printer, publisher and bookseller at 145 Cheapside in London when, on June 21, 1884, he advertised in the Birmingham Daily Post seeking an “Estimate for the Manufacture of Type-writing and other similar Machines.” Daw picked the right place to ask, and he placed his ad in no other newspaper. Birmingham was the original industrial heartland of Britain, and at that time the home of the nation’s most skilled metal workers. Daw duly got a reply from one such metal craftsman, the 28-year-old Alfred Taite, living at 22 Chapel Street. From just such an expedient arrangement, the machine usually referred to as the “Daw and Tait” (without the “e” and sometimes even as the Daw and Tate, without the “i”), first emerged from Daw and Taite Patent Typewriting Manufacturers of 63 Regent’s Place, London, that same year. On May 6, 1885, Daw exhibited his “models of dictation and verbatim type recorders and writers” at the Royal Society’s annual “conversazione” at Burlingham House on Piccadilly on Mayfair in London, where Daw was received by the society’s president, Thomas Henry Huxley, “Darwin’s Bulldog”.
Image from Typewriter, by Paul Robert and Peter Weil (Sterling, 2016)
Daw was born in Modbury, Devon, in 1827. He moved to London by 1851 and in the 1870s he was a printer based at 373 Regent Street, where his wife Elizabeth Hilder Daw carried on a millinery and dressmaking business. Daw and his son Hilder Daw (1865-1930), also a printer but later a civil engineer, patented an “apparatus for producing impressed and printed surfaces” in January 1884. This was for a machine which would impress matrices or molds for stereotype plates and would operate in a similar way to a typewriter. The machine Daw exhibited to the Royal Society is more likely to be the Daw typewriter historians are more familiar with, the one with a circular keyboard and typebars hovering obliquely over a platen.
Perhaps because so few examples exist today, it is widely believed the Daw typewriter never went into full production. However, in the first week of August 1891 a number of British newspapers published a story saying the Daw’s Typewriting Company had taken “a long stride forward” in producing three kinds of “A New Typewriter-Writer and Reporter”. The first was the matrix machine, which was to overcome the need to manually pick up and distribute individual type slugs. The second was a typewriter which would “overcome the irregularities of spacing, which are inevitable with many other machines”. The third was the verbatim reporting machine capable of producing 100 words a minute, fully spelt out and simultaneously manifolded. In 1887 Thomas and Hilder Daw patented their machines in the United States, and in 1892 in Australia and New Zealand.
From the London Times, May 2, 1885
In George Carl Mares’ The History of the Typewriter (1909), Mares described the “Daw & Tate” (as he spelled it) as “curious machines” dating from 1885, and as “relics of the early days of English typewriters”. Mares thought only two models were made, describing the one we know as a typewriter as a light portable instrument intended as a mechanical shorthand machine, “using ordinary characters under a code of contraction” and differential spacing. “The paper was carried under grippers on a hollow cylinder at the base of the machine, and this was made to revolve between letters on an Archimedian [sic] screw* (the first example of this movement ever attempted in typewriters).” Printing was done through carbon paper. (* The Archimedes screw consists of a spirally cut screw inside a hollow pipe.)
The Daws lived the latter part of their lives at Quakers Hall, Sevenoaks in Kent. From 1888 Thomas Daw described himself as a “patentee and inventor” and marketed such things as a truss and back drying board. He died in October 1893.
On December 12, 1980, an 1886 Daw and Tait typewriter went to a German bidder for £3000 at Sotherby’s Auction House in Belgravia, London. It had been expected to fetch between £500 and £800. This was for more than a decade a world record price for a typewriter.
From Iron, January 22, 1892
EGGIS (also known as the VELOGRAPH): Fribourg, Switzerland, inventor and banker Adolphe Prosper d’Eggis (1855-1941) patented this as a typewriting machine in Britain in 1886. That same year the Velograph was made by Czeslaw Rymtowt-Prince of Geneva (which in 1911 made the Darling). A company called the Eggis Patent Type-writing Syndicate attempted to introduce production of it to England in early 1892, with headquarters at 38 Leadenhall Street, London, but after a joint-stock meeting in December the public company was voluntarily wound up in April 1893. Mares described the eight guinea Eggis as an index machine which worked both as a typewriter and a cypherwriter.
It sounds very similar to Marshall Wier’s 1889 Cryptographic (see in next part under Pneumatic). In 1904 d’Eggis was a co-founder of the Freiburg Conservatory and finance officer of the Holy See. He was an active member of numerous learned societies and started two popular science journals, Le Monde de la science et de l'industrie in 1879 and La Science pratique in 1886 . He was a half-brother of the writer Etienne Eggis.
Anything but 'Perfected'
ENGLISH REMINGTON: Mares was very dismissive of this machine, which he said required, but did not deserve, mention in his book. From 1875 the original British agents for the Sholes & Glidden-Remington were Marsland & Son of Blackfrairs, Bridge Mills, Manchester. In 1881 the rights were acquired by Beeman and Roberts of 6 King Street, Cheapside, London. According to Mares, “certain of the earlier patents had expired, and they [the agents] accordingly set to work, and produced a very crude form of machine, to which they gave the title [The English Remington].The commercial career of this machine was, however, very early nipped in the bud.” The plan was to reduce the cost by 25 per cent compared to other, imported typebar machines, to £16 (see attached 1885 advert). But Mares said these models could be easily identified by “extreme roughness of the castings and finish” and the absence of patent marks. As a result of all this, in September 1887 the company’s American owners, Wyckoff, Seamans and Benedict, took direct control of the Remington’s sales, from offices they set up at 100 Gracechurch Street, London.
FITCH: The 11lb visible writing Fitch was the work of Eugene Fitch, born at Garrattsville, Otsego, New York, on August 15, 1846, but living in Des Moines, Iowa, when he invented his typewriter. He was granted a US patent on the design in 1887. The next year Fitch signed a contract with Brady Manufacturing of Brooklyn to manufacture the typewriter and machines were available on the market by 1889. In the meantime, in July 1888, Fitch moved to London, where he remained for 10 years. In 1890 Fitch was behind the formation of the Fitch Type-Writer Company Limited, with offices at the City Bank Building on Queen Victoria Street, London’s typewriter row. The organisation was incorporated with £150,000 capital in £1 shares. The chairman of the board of directors was Lord Walter Gordon Lennox (1865-1922), a British Conservative Party MP for Chichester. Fitch, as managing director, undertook to “give his whole time to the development and management of the business for the first two years at a fixed salary.”
Lord Walter Gordon Lennox backed the Fitch.
For £25,000 cash, the English Fitch company acquired worldwide patent rights except for North and South America on April 14, 1890. It expected to sell typewriters “at a large profit, half the price of the best existing machines”. Its prospectus said, “Type-Writing all over the world, except in the United States, is still in its infancy, especially in Great Britain, where it has only quite recently made an impression on the public. Indications are not wanting, however, that now, both for business purposes and for private correspondence, a steady, growing and permanent demand has set in … Very few type-writers, if any, are at present made in this country, while production in the United States is stated to be about 30,000 a year. … In the first instance, machines supplied to customers will be imported from America, but arrangements will be made to manufacture in this country, and special tools and machinery are being procured from America for that purpose.”
The British-made Fitch 2 had emerged from the company’s factory at 53 Clerkenwell Road by early February 1891, and the plan was to make 5000 a year. Mares said one of the British versions employed script letters (“not italics, but round hand”) and “the work turned out on this machine presented an exceedingly attractive appearance”. However, proceedings to wind up the company started on December 26, 1892, it was in liquidation by February 6, 1893, and the shutdown was completed on November 13, 1893. A series of auctions sold off 55 remaining typewriters and the plant equipment. Mares said “machines were sold at amusingly low prices, and somebody must have been a very heavy loser”.
Fitch returned to Britain briefly in 1913, He died in The Bronx on February 17, 1918, and is buried at Kensico Cemetery, Westchester County.
GARDNER: Mares merely passed it off as “novel”. Richard Polt says it is “one of the most peculiar constructions in the long history of the typewriter”. Martin Howard says it’s a “wonderful early English typewriter with a most unique design”. Darryl Rehr said it was “rather bizarre”. Typewriter Topics said it was “odd machine”. This British curiosity seems to have been one of those typewriters doomed to fail before it even got off the ground. Yet off the ground it did get, unlike so many others mentioned here, and astonishingly continued in one form or another until the start of the 20th Century. It was an attempt to market a low-price (eight guineas), low-maintenance, 13- or 14-key single type element machine expressly designed for correspondence.
Lancastrian John Gardner was born in Middleton, Manchester, on August 22, 1863, and was an early owner of a Caligraph. Through many years of typing experience, he came to style himself as a “typewriter specialist, inventor and dealer”. Gardner eventually settled on the idea for a strange 7¾lb, 10½in by 10in by 5⅛in non-manifolding device with a 24 square inch keyboard and lozenge-shaped red and black keytops. This was at the very time when New York inventor Charles Spiro - inventor of the Bar-Lock - was convincing British typewriter importer William Richardson that buyers weren't interested anymore in small, cheap typewriters, for just correspondence or any other purpose. The thinking in Britain may well have been different, or perhaps not.
The Gardner had a nickel-plated frame on a japanned iron base with gilt scrolling. Although it was patented in Britain on May 27, 1889, it wasn’t until November 17, 1893, that a prospectus for the Gardner British Typewriter Company was issued. At this time the Birmingham Daily Post said it needed capital of £50,000 in £1 shares and that the company had been formed to take over the British patent rights, together with the plants and tools on Carr Street, Blackfriars, and 19 Cross Street, both in Manchester. Shareholders forking out £10 or more would get a free machine. The Daily Post said that, to that point, testing and perfecting had been going on for several months, as well as manufacturing (10 a week) and selling to a limited extent. The directors included Walter Jameson Waterlow (1854-1908, of Waterlow Brothers and Layton Ltd) and Bury mayor John Parks, with Gardner himself as managing director.
The first year of the Model 1 is uncertain – it was listed as a new invention in 1891 but not advertised for sale. But the 1893 changes definitely mark the introduction of the Gardner Model 2, with an increase by one to 14 keys, which could write 84 characters with the assistance of a shift lever, and an enlarged type cylinder. The first model had 13 keys in two rows and wrote 78 characters. Mares said the touch “was something fearful to contemplate”.
Heavy advertising for the Model 2 began at the end of January 1895, but by the middle of July that year winding up notices were issued for both the original Gardner Writing Machine Company and the later Gardner British Typewriter Co Ltd, and the end came just a week later, on July 24. Mares said the Gardner had predictably “found its way into the harbour of the liquidator”. Nonetheless, the Gardner had also been made in 1893 as the Victorieuse by Charles Terrot at his bicycle factory in Dijon, France, and remerged in 1899 as the Victoria, made by Carl Lipp at Fuldaer-Schreibmaschinenfabrik in Fulda, Germany.
John Gardner died on May 2, 1928, at Bolton Le Sands, Lancashire. One of his machines came up for auction at Christie's in South Kensington, London, on March 3, 1994, and comfortably exceeded the estimated price range by selling for £3520.
Tomorrow: Magic, Maligners and Malfunctions. Part IV – the Maskelyne, Rapid, Salter, Waverley and Many More.