It was a bit of a relief yesterday to hand back to their owners three typewriters I'd been working on for the past few weeks: an Underwood three-bank, an 1896 Remington 6 and a Facit TP1. On the same morning, however, I was called back to the Museum of Australian Democracy (Old Parliament House), where the "Yours Faithfully" exhibition is due to re-open next month. The already much-in-demand exhibition was well promoted with an Olivetti Valentine illuminated on to the front of the MoAD building during the "Enlightened" festival earlier this month. But a scheduled immediate post-Covid reopening of "Yours Faithfully" was pushed back by some weeks because braindead anti-vax demonstrators set fire to the entrance of this gorgeous 95-year-old building, causing considerable damage inside and out. Happily, none of the portable typewriters being used in the "Yours Faithfully" exhibition appear to have suffered any harm from the fire. And that is just as well, because the popularity of "Yours Faithfully" has resulted in a decision to keep it going another year. Based on the typewriter repair work I have had to do at MoAD in the past, I was expecting to find some mechanical damage when I returned there yesterday morning, and sure enough there was plenty. Most alarming were the carriage levers snapped off a Hermes Baby (above) and a Silver-Seiko (below). Also, two Olympias had key linkages broken. As for the broken carriage levers, this an all-too-common occurence from the mis-use of the typewriters at "Yours Faithfully" - last year I had to deal with the same problem on another Facit TP1, as well as on the same Hermes Baby and on other machines. In each case, the damage had obviously been caused by undue force - and considerable force at that - and I try to convince myself it's not deliberate vandalism. Anyway, in the coming days I'll see what can be done for the four portables now crowding up the briefly cleared work bench in my Typewriter Workshop. Fingers crossed!
Sunday 27 March 2022
This fascinating machine was described last week as a “second-hand typewriter” and was on display at the Antik Passion Almoneda, an annual antiques, art and collectors fair at IFEMA (Institución Ferial de Madrid) in Spain. It is, I believe, a mid-1930s teletypewriter, a 60lb “Telegraph Lo15” made by C. Lorenz AG. Richard Polt posted on acquiring one these models on his TheTypewriter Revolution blog in January 2014 (he had sold it by last October).
C. Lorenz AG was a German electrical and electronics firm in Berlin which developed products for electric lighting, telegraphy, telephony, radar and radio. Formed as C. Lorenz Telegraphenbauanstalt by Carl Lorenz in 1880, it was acquired by Stamford, Connecticut-based International Telephone & Telegraph in 1930 and became part of Standard Elektrik Lorenz (SEL) Stuttgart in 1958 when it merged with Standard Elektrizitätsgesellschaft and several other smaller companies owned by ITT. In 1987, SEL merged with the French companies Compagnie Générale d'Electricité and Alcatel to form the new Alcatel SEL.
In 1924 C. Lorenz AG acquired a license from the Chicago company Kleinschmidt-Morkrum (from 1928 known as Teletype Corp) to make a 5-bit Baudot type pressure telegraph machine based on Kleinschmidt-Morkrum’s Models 14 and 15 KSR (keyboard send and receive, the latter above). Production in Germany started in 1929 with developments of the licensing models.
The Morkrum Model 12 typebar page printer (above) was based on Underwood typewriter mechanism. It was produced from 1922-25 under the Morkrum company name, from 1925-29 under the Morkrum-Kleinschmidt name, and from 1929-43 under Teletype Corp. On December 23, 1924, Howard Krum and Sterling Morton filed an application on the 14-type typebar tape printer which matured into patent #1,745,633.
The Teletype Model 15 (above) was a Baudot code page printer, the mainstay of US military communications in World War II. In 1930 Morton, Krum and Edward E. Kleinschmidt filed an application for a US patent covering the commercial form of the Model 15 page printer. This is the Teletype machine that was used by news wire services until the 1970s. About 200,000 were built. The Model 15 remained in production until 1963, 33 years of continuous production. The Model 15, in its “receive only” configuration with no keyboard, was the classic “news Teletype”. Radio stations still use a recording of the sound of these machines as background during news broadcasts.
As for ITT, its chief executive Sosthenes Behn and his German representative, Henry Mann, met with Hitler on August 3, 1933. In Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler, Antony C. Sutton claimed ITT subsidiaries made cash payments to SS leader Heinrich Himmler. ITT, through the subsidiary C. Lorenz AG, owned 25 per cent of Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau AG, the German aircraft manufacturer, builder of some of the most successful Luftwaffe fighter aircraft. In the 1960s, ITT won $27 million in compensation for damage inflicted on its share of the Focke-Wulf plant by Allied bombing during World War II. Sutton also uncovered that ITT owned shares of Signalbau Huth, which produced for the German Wehrmacht radar equipment and transceivers. While ITT-Focke-Wulf planes bombed Allied ships and ITT lines passed information to German submarines, ITT direction finders were saving other ships from torpedoes. In 1943 ITT became the largest shareholder of Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau for the remainder of the war, with 29 per cent.
Given this blog was been going for more than 11 years now, I’m pleasantly surprised - and relieved - that the need for me to decline comments has been a rare. At the same time, almost 10,800 comments have been published. There have been some clumsy attempts at spam from time to time, but the requirement for me to moderate comments on a post that is more than a few days old helps to ensure I can ditch the junk before it appears online. Lately I’ve deleted a few comments from people who have ignored my clear advice: Do not ask me to evaluate typewriters.
I’m also bemused to receive, thankfully only very occasionally, comments from people who have evidently not read the post in question. For example, a woman apparently representing the Australia-Gallipoli Friendship Society wanted to comment on my February 2017 post, “Allāhu akbar! Ice cream cart at the ready for jihadi attack in the Battle of Broken Hill”. She wrote, “according to some, this was a fake and organised so-called a small war ... They weren’t Turk they were poor Afgans ... after this so-called attack Australians hated Turks and enlisted to Army so fast to fight against to the Turks. SO the result was very succesfull on the side of Britania and Australia. However Turkey cant defend themself well then and still”.
If this person had bothered to actually read the post, before attempting to comment on it, she would have found:
a) The post makes it abundantly clear that the incident at Broken Hill on New Year’s Day 1915 involved “Two suicidal Afghan Muslims armed with Snider-Enfield and Martini-Henry rifles, a revolver, 30 rounds of ammunition, a homemade Turkish flag and bandoliers, and an ice cream cart.” The pair were “self-declared soldiers of Allah”, former cameleers Badsha Mahomed Gül, 39, an Afridi ice-cream vendor, and Mullah Abdullah, 60, a Pathan who acted as an Islamic mullah and halal butcher. They left notes explaining their grievances were connected to the hostilities between the Ottoman and British empires and that they were responding to a call of holy war against “the mortal enemies of Islam”, issued by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed V, caliph of all Muslims, on November 11, 1914.
b) It is considered conceiviable by some military historians that the incident at Broken Hill may have helped with recruitment. But it had no impact whatsoever on ANZAC troops being sent to Gallipoli “to fight against the Turks”. That decision was made by Winston Churchill in London, not by anyone in Australia or New Zealand. Churchill had raised the idea of an attack on the Gallipoli Peninsula at a meeting of the British War Council in late November 1914, more than a month before the Broken Hill incident. The continuing stalemate on the Western Front, and developments in the Balkan region, led the council to back Churchill’s plan. In the Balkans, the Ottoman advance northwards into the Caucasus region led Russia to appeal for help to relieve the pressure. Until April 1915, most of the people living on the peninsula were Greek, not Turks. The Ottoman Fifth Army forcibly removed 22,000 Greek civilians from the area two weeks before the Gallipoli landings. The attack on the Dardanelles was approved on January 28, 1915.
As with the case on my post on Shere Hite and the Olivetti advert, I’d suggest to any potential commenter that they are best advised to stick to the facts, to what is known to be absolutely true and demonstrably so. Wild speculation about controversial matters has no place here, but thanks for reading anyway.
Friday 25 March 2022
The wonderful New Yorker cover scene captured by Alajálov, of the bread-and-butter bourgeoisie sports writers goggling at high society blow-ins at the National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden in New York City in early November 1939 (the event was, after all, the official start of the formal social season in New York), is not quite how I remember the surroundings when I covered that irascible character Harvey Smith winning the Horse and Hound Cup on San Mar at Wembley 40½ years later. But Press Tribunes dotted with portable typewriters beside rotary dial telephones with handsets were still our regular work benches.
In a tribute to O’Reilly in April 1962, syndicated sports columnist Joe Williams wrote of a conversation he had had with O’Reilly just before O’Reilly died. “I’m writing a book and much of it is going to be about our old sports department," O'Reilly had said. “How’s ‘Bedlam to Bellevue’ for a title? … It’ll either discourage all youngsters from ever wanting to be a sportswriter, or it’ll start the damnest stampede this side of Cecil B. De Mille.” The book was never completed, but happily, by 1962, my mind had already been made up. I was going to join the stampede.
Another tribute, from Kent Hollingsworth in Lexington, Kentucky, said O’Reilly was a “merry man” who “had a knack of arranging words on paper so others could share his lively interest in people and his amusement in their foibles.” Al Abrams, sports editor in Pittsburgh, said O’Reilly was a “big, gregarious, witty Irishman with red hair and a full-blown mustache of the same color [which he grew to cover an upper lip injury suffered in his youth]. O’Reilly wrote about thoroughbreds like a thoroughbred.”
From the 1939 National Horse Show that O’Reilly covered for The New Yorker, O’Reilly began by describing the “customary quota of opening-night mishaps and high spirits. Captain Robert L. Taylor’s Grey Horse Battery upset a caisson in the middle of the ring; Lieutenant David Wagstaff Jr, of Tuxedo Park, slid slowly down the long nose of his chesnut, Enterprise, when the animal changed its mind at the stone-wall jump in the Bowman Cup class; and I saw three gentlemen in top hats get into the Garden on grooms’ tickets.”
here he worked alongside such outstanding mentors as Heywood Broun and Westbrook Pegler, while the newspaper remained liberal. When Roger Ingersoll set up the liberal-leaning daily PM in 1940, O’Reilly moved to that camp. He was also writing regularly for The New Yorker. PM closed in 1948 and O’Reilly became racing editor of the Morning Telegraph, a paper devoted mostly to theatrical and horse racing news. Just a year before his death, O’Reilly became a racing columnist for the Herald Tribune, working under John Denson. The Herald Tribune’s ad campaign at that time was “Who says a good newspaper has to be dull?” Certainly, O’Reilly’s writing was anything but dull. When the US joined World War II in 1941, O’Reilly volunteered for the Merchant Marine on the American South African Line, sailing from New York to the Suez around Cape Horn and back under skipper James Hanley Kerr. This experience, with portable typewriter, on what O’Reilly called the Mulligan Stew, led to a delightful book, The Purser’s Pilgrim - The Adventures of a Seagoing Office Boy (1944), illustrated by the incomparable Leo Hershfield. By chance, it includes a character called Featherstonehaugh, and when I worked for The Irish Press in Dublin in the 1970s, we had a very fine racing writer called Brian Featherstonehaugh (it's pronounced “Fanshaw”, by the way). I'd developed an appreciation for the "literarcy" of racing writers years before meeting Brian, but I have to say it was somewhat heightened in Dublin. As it is now, knowing about Tom O'Reilly.
Thursday 24 March 2022
Madeleine Jana Korbel Albright was born Marie Jana Korbelová in the Smíchov district of Prague, Czechoslovakia, on May 15, 1937. She was the first female Secretary of State in US history, serving from 1997 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton. Albright died from cancer in Washington DC on Wednesday, aged 84.
Sunday 20 March 2022
It’s rare when a post on Instagram offers a hint of typewriter history, but last week Ian Jerams, of the Typewriter Cellar in Sheffield, England, drew attention to a 1925 book called Rational Typewriting, written by a “Mrs Smith Clough”. It didn’t take long to find out that “Mrs Smith Clough” was Edith Rosie Smith Clough (née Illenden) of Folkestone in Kent and that she was the author of numerous books relating to typewriter use. These were published over a period of more than 50 years and included at least 24 editions of Rational Typewriting as well as A Typewriting Catechism (1912), The Happy Typist (1913), Typewriters and How to Use Them (1914, available to read online), A New Course in Typewriting (1915, later editions published as Short Course in Typewriting), The Typists' Vade-mecum (1920, co-authored with four times world speed typing champion, American Margaret Benedict Owen), and The New Rational Typewriting, which was revised by Irene Burgess and last put out in 1970.
Edith Illenden was born in Folkestone on November 24, 1879. By the turn of the century she had worked as a private secretary in Paris and was offering her services in shorthand, typewriting, book-keeping and French from Welbeck House on Mortimer Street in London. She was also the head typewriting teacher at Clark’s College, established on Chancery Lane in London by George Ernest Clark in September 1880. At the end of 1901 Edith returned to Folkestone and, as well her typing services, she had taken on the agency for the Smith Premier typewriter. This was at a time when the Smith Premier was still a “blind” writer and it is interesting to read in 1914’s Typewriters and How to Use Them about how Edith struggled to switch from “visual” to “touch” typing. Edith’s photograph appeared in a 1904 edition of Smith Premier’s Premier Magazine. She also taught typing at evening classes in Folkestone.
It was in 1904 that Edith won the Society of Arts typewriting examination, but as outlined in Typewriters and How to Use Them she typed at nothing like the speed of the Underwood team in New York, formed in that period. With touch typing she advanced from 20 words a minute to 30 words but with visual typing she could achieve 45 words a minute, less than half the speed of the US experts.
In the summer of 1911 Edith married John Smith Clough (1884-1968), a Yorkshire commercial teacher 4½ years her junior. The two combined their skills and their backing of the Gregg shorthand system (though they also taught Pitman) to start the Folkestone Business College and Typewriting Office on Guildhall Street in Folkestone. As well as his involvement in the typewriter business, John was an advocate for Esperanto, and in 1920 attended an international congress in The Hague. By 1923 Edith had switched her allegiance to the Royal typewriter, and the same year the college became Clough’s Commercial College, a limited listed company which set up branches in Southampton, Eastbourne and Canterbury. Finally, in 1929, the Cloughs embraced the British-made Imperial.
The Smith Cloughs had three sons, Arthur Hubert Clough (1920-42), killed while serving in World War II, Ewart James Clough (1922-), who became a farmer and forester, and Alan Emerson Clough (left, 1924-2011), who at the end of World War II joined the commercial college company and eventually took charge of it. Edith died at Ashford Hospital, Kent, on September 19, 1966. John Smith Clough died in Folkestone on January 1, 1968, leaving an estate of almost £16,000.
Saturday 19 March 2022
A century ago, major US typewriter manufacturers were in the habit of sending “good news stories” to their agents around the world. These articles were positive publicity puff pieces, penned by PR people about the manufacturer’s machine, and were often passed on to the agent’s local newspaper, which printed them virtually unchanged (the one addition being the name and trading address of the agent). As far as the newspapers were concerned, it was interesting, read-worthy and free “filler” copy – and the deal usually included a large, paid advertisement with an engraving. Sound business practice for all concerned.
One classic example in 1922 concerned a New York law reporter called Louis Jerome Tannenholz, who had used a regular stock L.C. Smith No 4 standard typewriter to type 67½ million words over eight years. Tattenholz, born at East 107th Street, Manhattan, on St Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1888, started work as an insurance broker but in 1913 became a law reporter based at 150 Nassau Street, close to New York City Hall and the New York County Supreme Court. The next year he acquired his trusty L.C. Smith No 4, which had reached the market in 1911.
Tannenholz’s great typewriter feat was actually achieved at the 46th convention of the New York State Shorthand Reporters’ Association at the Court House in Syracuse (Syracuse also being the home of the L.C. Smith & Brothers Typewriter Company) on Thursday, December 29, 1921. By the following morning, the New York Daily News had caught up with Tannenholz and had interviewed him and photographed him at his “old” L.C. Smith. The company’s public relations department went into overdrive and from March until August the story of his typing achievements appeared from Ohio to Hawaii.
At the shorthand reporters’ convention in Syracuse, Tannenholz set a world record for law reporting typists by typing at a rate of 92 words a minute for 16 minutes (1472 words). He typed court testimony, read to him by a court stenographer, on seven testimony-sized pages. The dictation was in question and answer form, and included part of a judge’s charge to the jury.
Tannenholz said he estimated that since 1914 he had typed 300,000 pages on the L.C. Smith, averaging 225 words a page, or 67½ million words all up. In that time, “the only repair necessary on the machine … was when a messenger boy [not me!] dropped it and broke the right hand carriage return lever, necessitating [a] replacement.”
Tannenholz was not new to winning typewriter speed championships and setting typing records – previously he had won both amateur and professional titles, from 1914-17 inclusive, “dictaphone style” – that is, typing from dictation using headphones. In Chicago in 1916 he typed 134 words a minute for a new world record in dictaphone transcription. Away from typing tests, he transcribed court reports in famous cases, such as policeman Charles Becker’s murder trial in 1914, the 1917 kidnapping trial of Harry Kendall Thaw and the 1920 trial of five Socialist assemblymen in the New York State Legislature in Albany.
Tannenholz told the Daily News that a secret to his success was the use of talcum powder on his fingers to stop them from becoming sticky. He kept a box of the powder beside his typewriter and regularly dipped his fingers into it. “I indulge in no finger exercises, but take great care of my hands, soaking them in hot water preparatory to engaging in any work requiring speed. My typewriter keys are supported by inside springs, giving a lightness and deftness of touch that greatly increase my speed.” He used only two fingers on each hand. “Speed on the typewriter can be obtained only by assiduous application – constant practice with the one goal in view. However, I have not made a practical study of it.”
While the Daily News reporter held a stopwatch, Tannenholz demonstrated his skill by typing 184 words of familiar matter in one minute, using 660 strokes, 11 movements a second. Later, Tannenholz was quoted by Typewriter Topics as saying, “I think I have done far better in my routine work than the record made in Syracuse.” On his first visit to the L.C. Smith plant, Tannenholz gave an exhibition in which he typed at 185 words a minute with familiar matter.
Tannenholz was back in the news in 1928 when he joined the huge party aboard the 11 cars on New York Governor Al Green’s special train during Smith’s Presidential election campaign in September-October 1928. Tannenholz was one of two typists travelling with Smith’s group. The cars included a Club Pullman car in which the governor held daily press conferences (it was equipped with a barber shop and shower room), a especially equipped office car for correspondents with typewriters, three Pullman compartment cars for the Press and a work car equipped with mimeograph machines and typewriters. The campaign train went from New York to Chicago, Omaha, Oklahoma City, Wichita, Dodge City, Colorado Springs, Denver, Cheyenne, Billings, Butte, Bozeman, Fargo, Minneapolis and back, with a myriad of other stops along the way.
In spite of the enormous cost of the campaign train, Smith, the Democratic candidate and the first Roman Catholic to be nominated for President by a major party, was crushed by a former Kalgoorlie (Western Australia) goldmine engineer, Herbert Hoover, who won 444 electoral votes to Smith’s 87. Hoover won 40 states to Smith’s eight (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, just, Mississippi, Rhode Island, just, and South Carolina).
Soon after the US joined World War I, Lou Tannenholz and his wife Rose changed their surname from the Germanic to the Anglican Tanner. Lou Tanner retired from law reporting in 1941 and moved to Florida, where for more than 20 years he was general manager of Cobb’s fruit stores. Lou died in Miami on January 22, 1963, a month short of his 75th birthday.
Wednesday 16 March 2022
I’ve lost count of the times in the past 50 odd years that I’ve driven across New Zealand’s Southern Alps, between my home town of Greymouth and the Canterbury Plains and back, looked across at the steep, barren rocky outcrops along the way and thought, “That’d be a great place to film a Western.” Someone else has got there before me, having obviously cottoned on to the same idea. And now we have the movie that’s all the rage around the civilised world.
The New Zealand-made Western The Power of the Dog is actually set in mid-1920s Montana but was filmed in the Maniototo in Central Otago, a southern part of New Zealand’s vast alpine regions. One giveway are the uniquely Australian magpies in a tree. Yet this is a universal story. The “psychological drama” was written and directed by New Zealander Jane Campion, who gave us The Piano and the Janet Frame biopic An Angel at My Table. The Power of the Dog is based on Thomas Laman Savage's 1967 novel of the same name and stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee. It had its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival last September and won Campion won the Silver Lion for Best Direction. It was released worldwide on Netflix in November and is regarded as one of the best films of 2021 by multiple top-10 lists. It has received 12 nominations for the Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director for Campion, Best Actor for Cumberbatch, Best Supporting Actor for both Plemons and Smit-McPhee and Best Supporting Actress for Dunst. It also received seven nominations at the Golden Globe Awards, winning Best Motion Drama, Best Supporting Actor for Smit-McPhee and Best Director for Campion.
Campion was quoted as saying, “I was actually thinking of retiring before I did this film, but then I thought, ‘Oh man, this is gonna be a big one.’ I’d read the book and loved it and afterwards I just kept thinking about it. When I made a move to find out who had the rights, that’s when I knew it had got me. I needed to do it.” What wasn’t mentioned is that the screen rights to the novel The Power of the Dog were originally held by Cornel Wilde (1912-89; real name Kornél Lajos Weisz), the Hungarian-born actor and filmmaker. Wilde had just produced, directed and starred in The Naked Prey, a film made in Zimbabwe and based on a true incident about a trapper named John Colter being pursued by Blackfeet Indians in Wyoming. Instead of The Power of the Dog, however, Wilde made Beach Red, a World War II film depicting a landing by the United States Marine Corps on an Japanese-held Pacific island and based on Peter Bowman's 1945 novella about Bowman’s experiences with the United States Army Corps of Engineers in the Pacific War. By 1982 the screen rights to The Power of the Dog had changed hands more three times. It was to be five times by 2001. In 1982 Van Vactor & Goodheart had regained the paperback rights, and it had completed a screenplay, planning to turn Power of the Dog into a television miniseries. Van Vactor & Goodheart’s paperback edition came out in 1983.
The Back Bay-Little, Brown paperback edition was published in 2001 and included an afterword from Annie Proulx, who in 1997 wrote the original short story "Brokeback Mountain" for The New Yorker (the screenplay was co-written by Hermes 3000 typewriter-wielding Larry McMurty). Calling tbe book a work of literary art, Proulx said, “The Power of the Dog was published in 1967 by Little, Brown in Boston after Thomas Savage’s editor at Random House asked for changes that the writer refused to make. It earned extremely good reviews, stayed on The New York Times ‘New and Recommended’ list for nearly two months, was five times optioned for a film (which was never made). It is … unusual in dealing with a topic rarely discussed in that period - repressed homosexuality displayed as homophobia in the masculine ranch world.” Proulx is said to have credited The Power of the Dog as an influence on Brokeback Mountain.