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“A Brief History of the Invention of the Type-Writer”

Document: A Brief History of the Invention of the Type-Writer, which is offered for download here (70 MB PDF).

Wyckoff, Seamans & Benedict published a history of the typewriter sometime between 1882 and 1886, in a small volume (4 1/2″ x 6 1/2″) advertising the models 1, 2 and 4.1 Entitled “A Brief History of the Invention of the Type-Writer,” this rare volume affirms that the No. 1 was offered with several different typefaces. Collector Peter Weil mentioned this in a Facebook post in February, describing that the No. 1 was sold with five varieties of type as early as 1875 or 1876. He included a printed, though undated, advertising letter with his post.

That document describes five typefaces:

  • Small Gothic
  • Small Roman
  • Large Gothic
  • Large Roman
  • Script Type, a lower-case typeface, which included a “capital indicator”

The same information was printed in a promotional newspaper dates to August 1877. This material was sold on eBay for around $1,200 in 2016! — see my post here–, and I archived the images:

This is the same sheet as that Peter Weil posted to Facebook.

Here is the Script Type.

“A Brief History…” describes five typefaces:

  • Small Roman
  • New Small Roman
  • Large Roman
  • Small Gothic
  • Large Gothic

These are the type specimens in “Brief History…” for the Nos. 1 and 4 (both single-case machines):

The Homiletic Review in 1888 mentioned that the No. 1 was still offered with “two or three styles of type” —

Copies of “A Brief History of the Invention of the Type-Writer” are scarce. Theodore Munk describes a similar document here which he dates to 1884. That document can be downloaded here. My copy likely pre-dates it, as page 27 has been modified with a slip of adhesive paper, likely updating the brochure with more up-to-date information. Mine also does not mention the No. 3.

You can download my copy here.

© 2020, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

  1. The document mentions 1882, and its publisher George B. Walbridge died in 1886. []
{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Bill M April 15, 2020, 1:50 pm

    I never knew any early typewriters offered different typefaces except Hammond with the shuttles.
    Nice book. I downloaded a copy.

  • Richard P April 15, 2020, 8:47 pm

    Thanks! Neat document, wonderful cover image.

  • Richard P April 15, 2020, 8:50 pm

    The no. 1 (Sholes & Glidden) also originally was offered with script type, and a special symbol indicating a capital letter. See ETCetera no. 117.

    • Mark Adams April 15, 2020, 9:47 pm

      Wow, thanks for reminding me. I wrote about that in 2016, and just updated this post. Did whoever purchase that newspapers step forward?

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