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Early Office Museum

Antique Single-Element Typewriters


Munson Typewriter, 1896 ad

Single element machines used type-shuttles, type-wheels, or type-sleeves rather than type-bars. These type-elements rotated and moved either up and down or side to side to position the correct letter. One of the selling points of most single-element typewriters was that the type-elements could be changed to permit typing in different fonts and languages. Both Hammond and Blickensderfer sold over 100 different type-elements. Key tops could be changed to facilitate typing in different languages.  It is reported that most single-element machines were slower than typebar machines because the single-element returned to its base position between characters.

 

 

Crandall New Model 1 OM.JPG (31561 bytes)
Crandall New Model, 1886 

Crandall type cylinder OM.JPG (20050 bytes)
Crandall New Model, vertical type-sleeve, 1886

Commercial_Visible_6_OM.jpg (44487 bytes)
Commercial Visible No. 6, 1901

Lambert front OM.JPG (27377 bytes)
Lambert, 1900

Lambert side OM.JPG (19187 bytes)
Lambert, 1900

Lambert_type_element.jpg (25353 bytes)
Lambert type element

1909_McCool_typewriter_no._2_25_ad_detail.JPG (123979 bytes)
McCool Typewriter No. 2, 1909 ad

~ Crandall ~ Chicago ~ Blickensderfer ~
~ Lambert ~

The most successful early single-element machine, the Hammond type-shuttle typewriter, is described in our Antique Office Typewriters gallery. 

Some other single-element machines were the Crandall Typewriter (early 1880s), Munson Typewriter (1889)/Chicago Typewriter (1898), Blickensderfer Typewriter (1893), Commercial Visible Typewriter (1898), Keystone Typewriter (1899), Lambert Typewriter (1900), Postal Typewriter (1902), McCool Typewriter (c. 1909), and the miniature novelty Junior Typewriter (1907)/Bennett Typewriter (1910). The Rem-Blick Typewriter (1928), which was a copy of the Blickensderfer No. 5, was sold by Sears under the brand name Blick Typewriter (c. 1930).

All of these other single-element machines were sold at prices significantly below those of upstrike typewriters and the Hammond. Nevertheless, none of the other single-element machines appears to have had substantial sales for office use. In any event, we have not found claims by other single-element machines that significant sales were made to government or corporate offices, and we have not found them in early office photographs.

Single-element typewriters typed in two different ways. On several of the machines, a hammer moved forward from the rear and hit the paper against the type. This was true of the Hammond, Munson/Chicago, Commercial Visible, Keystone and McCool. On a number of other single-element typewriters, the type element moved and struck the paper. This was true of the Blickensderfer, Lambert, Postal, and Junior/Bennett.

The Munson No. 1 weighed 16 lb. and was advertised in 1893 as "the most portable standard machine in existence." The Munson No. 2, like the Chicago, was an enclosed machine. Munson advertised that the No. 2 was designed for typing manifolds, or multiple carbon copies. The Chicago was offered with a standard or a wide carriage. The existence of a wide-carriage model may suggest that the company was marketing machines to offices. In 1902, the Chicago Writing Machine Co. advertised that it had sold 26,000 Chicagos in the three years since they were introduced.  An ad claimed that 75,000 Chicagos were in use at the beginning of 1915. (System, Jan. 1915.) The Chicago was marketed by Sears, Roebuck & Co. under the name Draper. 

The Blickensderfer Typewriter, which used a type-wheel, was the first successful portable keyboard typewriter. (See ad to right.)  In 1905, the company claimed that 100,000 of its machines were in use. By the time production of Blickensderfer type-wheel models ceased in 1918 or 1919, about 200,000 such machines had been produced, judging from serial numbers.

The Lambert has a circular keypad and a type-element in the form of a circular convex plate. When the operator presses a letter, the keypad tilts, the type-element pivots, and the appropriate letter prints. Complete with carrying case, the Lambert weighs under 9 lb.  In 1993, it was estimated that a total of about 30,000 Lambert machines were made in the US, England, and France.  (ETCetera No. 24, Sept. 1993)

Prices of Early Single-Element Typewriters

Typewriter Years Price
Hammond No. 1
Multiplex
1887-88
1916
$100
$100
Crandall New Model

Crandall Visible
No. 2
No. 3
1888-90
1890-93
1906
1909 (Mares)
1909 (Mares)
$75
$50
$24.50 (Sears)
$50
$75
Munson No. 1
Munson No. 2 (rare two-element model)
Munson No. 2 (different from preceding)
Chicago
Chicago No. 3
Draper
Chicago
1893-95
1893
1898
1899-05
1902-03
1906
1905, 1914-15 (S0115)
$65
$90
$50
$35
$50
$18.73 (Sears)
$35
Blickensderfer  No. 1
No. 3
No. 5
No. 5
No. 7
No. 6 aluminum
No. 8
Featherweight
No. 8
1893?
1893?
1897-98,1901-04
1899-1900
1897-1904
1910
1910
1914
1914
$100 (likely none sold)
$65 (likely none sold)
$35
$40
$50
$50
$60
$45
$45
Commercial Visible No. 6 1902-04
1904-07
$50
$25
Keystone 1900 $40
Lambert
Garden City
Lambert
1902
1902
1904
$20
$15.75 (Sears)
$25
Postal
No. 7
1903-06
1908
$25
$50
Junior Portable
Bennett Portable
1907-09
1910-14
$15
$18
McCool 1909 $25
Rem-Blick "Blick" c. 1930 $19.75 (Sears)

 

 

Munson_front.jpg (46906 bytes)
Munson 

Chicago Typewriter OM.JPG (44407 bytes)
Chicago, 1898

Chicago type-sleeve OM.JPG (6593 bytes)
Chicago horizontal type-sleeve, 1898

MBHT_Postal_typewriter.jpg (145634 bytes)
Postal ad.
Courtesy of the Museum of Business History and Technology

1899_Blickensderfer_ad_OM.JPG (36327 bytes)
Blickensderfer No. 5 ad, 1899

1897 Blickensderfer No. 7 OM.JPG (50414 bytes)
 Blickensderfer 
No. 7, 1897

1897 Blickensderfer No. 7 type-wheel OM.JPG (29863 bytes)
 Blickensderfer 
No. 7 Type-wheel, 1897

1895 Blickensderfer No. 5 keyboard OM.JPG (36892 bytes)
 Blickensderfer 
No. 5, 1895, with Scientific Keyboard. This keyboard placed the most common English letters, DHIATENSOR, on the lowest row of keys.

Blickensderfer_No._8_OM.jpg (150561 bytes)
Blickensderfer No. 8, 1910


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