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Henry Mill’s typewriter? Nope…

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Turns out, the machine Arthur Morton thought was Henry Mill’s typewriter is John Cooper’s 1856 invention (see previous post here). The image Morton provided The Phonetic Journal in 1899 appears to be nothing more than a crude rendering of Cooper’s patent image (U.S. 14,907):

Morton’s illustration (left) and John Cooper’s 1856 patent image (right).

Describing Cooper’s invention in The Writing Machine, Michael Adler wrote, “Cooper’s machine was most noteworthy for its sophisticated combination of cylindrical platen and feed roller, very like that in modern typewriters” (p. 99). Typewriter Topics (1924) described it as “being a large device” and period illustrations falsely portray it as massive:

Compared to the photograph at the top of this post (a specimen held by the Smithsonian), the illustration above grossly exaggerates its size (image source). According to the Smithsonian, its dimensions are 6 1/4 in x 9 in x 7 1/2 in; 15.875 cm x 22.86 cm x 19.05 cm, though patent models were typically smaller versions of the actual product.

Color image from the Smithsonian Institute (click here to view page).

A different specimen can be found at the Antikey Chop here.

How Morton concluded the Cooper machine was Mill’s is unclear. He may have been relying on a misinformed source.

© 2021, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Bill M May 18, 2021, 9:32 pm

    Sure is an interesting behemoth.
    Even though my telegrapher’s mills were not made by Henry Mill they sure are fun to use.

    • Mark Adams May 18, 2021, 9:52 pm

      I’ve updated my update! It’s really quite small: 6 1/4 in x 9 in x 7 1/2 in.

  • T. Munk May 20, 2021, 5:24 pm

    Ant-Man’s typewriter? Just add PYM Particles! 😀

  • Richard P May 22, 2021, 12:39 am

    Morton’s illustration is a very free rendition of the patent drawing, with some odd distortions and omissions. It’s like one of those Chinese fake typewriters!

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