≡ Menu

Still typing in Myanmar

Image from Fox News (see here).

Remarkably, we still live in an age where in some parts of the world, typewriters are necessary. In Myanmar, typists have seen demand for their trade decline, but many still thrive. A report from Fox News relates: “Aung Myint says his work is steady enough, but a far cry from the days of military rule, when he spent most of his time typing up authors’ novels for submission to the now-defunct censorship board. He rarely broke for lunch back then, often working by candlelight well after shops were shuttered and businessmen had long gone home.”

Video: BBC News – The slow death of Myanmar’s typewriter industry

Article: Fox News – Typewriters, telegrams, other reminders of bygone era persist in fast-changing Myanmar

© 2017, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

{ 1 comment }

Galbreath mailer for rebuilt machines: 1926

The market for rebuilt typewriters was brisk in the 1920s, evidence that manufacturers could scarcely keep up with demand. Factory rebuilt machines afforded consumers opportunities to own a typewriter at a discount, and students were often targeted.

In 1926, a C. Gyer Mason received an advertisement from Galbreath Typewriter & Adding Machine Company in Rogers, Ohio, pitching rebuilt typewriters. “My dear student,” began the typewritten portion of the mailer, “Are you still interested in securing a typewriter or in taking a course in touch typewriting? We have some very fine rebuilt machines in stock and can save you considerable money on the purchase of a machine at this time.”

Mason must have been interested in a machine, for he kept the envelope and mailer, which are featured in this post. Then, his family kept the keepsake, until finally it ended up on eBay and subsequently my collection. Whatever machine he purchased, if he purchased one, he certainly could have gotten a good deal. A Hammond #12 sold for as little as $10.

The mailer is pre-printed card stock, the inside pages including both typewriters and business machines. Evidently, Galbreath mailers had one design, which served both students and businesses.

Note: Click on images, including the one above, to view larger files.

A bit about Galbreath:
Asher A. Galbreath was a known quantity, and his biography can be located on Wikipedia (see here). A man of diverse skills, he served in political office and as president of the National Typewriter Company. In elected office, he rose as high as state senator. The typewriter company bearing his name seems to have thrived from 1918 through 1948, extending several years past his death in 1935.

An early advertisement from 1918 –

An article (June 1924) relating to his bid for lieutenant governor (he lost the two times he ran) –

One of the last advertisements I could find for Galbreaths, dating to 1948 –

© 2017, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.


God Bless Us, Every One!

A classic illustration of Tiny Tim and Bob Cratchit by Jessie Wilcox Smith, 1911.

“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!” – A Christmas Carol, Stave 1

Some 15 or 17 years ago, my good friend Michael Doherty started an annual reading of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. Participants each take turns reading a page from the text, discussing the story between the staves (chapters). It’s a lively affair that has grown from a handful of participants to over 15, traversing the text in five or six hours.

The Carol is indeed a compelling story that confronts societal attitudes about the poor and humanity in general. The text invites readers to imagine the possibility of living differently and of acting differently; to imagine the possibility of engaging the world in its concerns, not simply passing it by. One of the readers in our group, a young college student, noted sagely at the end of the reading: “Nothing has changed, except him.”

I can’t help but wonder: are we changed?

In the gospels, the following account is related:

“Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.” — Matthew 26:6-13, ESV.

Now, honestly, the ointment could have been sold and the money given to the poor… but why hadn’t Jesus’ critics given their money to the poor? Why is it that the poor “will always be” with us? Is there some part of humanity that is the Cause? Notably, in the two accounts of Jesus feeding the thousands (there are two accounts), he twice tells his disciples, “You give them something to eat.” Are we to learn that the “common welfare” of mankind is our business? Are we to learn that even the disciples could have fed the thousands, if only they would have striven for it?

Reading A Christmas Carol

Michael Doherty, reading from A Christmas Carol, circa 2008.

Reading A Christmas Carol in a single sitting was a novel idea when it was proposed so many years ago. A straight reading, sans conversation, might take two or three hours, but a reading with conversation, beginning at around 6 p.m., might well last until midnight. Yet each time it has proven a worthwhile endeavor. (I have participated twice.) In the experience, one senses a heightening of community. I am a part of something.

Invariably, bits of conversation center around the experience of reading the Carol. For how often in our entertainments and diversions do we disengage from one another? How often do we become isolated islands of digital insulation? And does not this contribute to the general degradation of the “common welfare,” eroding every bit our our humanity until, well, only bits and bytes of our “virtual” reality remain?

I have long enjoyed being a member of the typosphere and being among those who collect objects, not merely as objects (though they are mechanically beautiful), but as vehicles for connecting with others. We “type in,” we “sit in,” we “read in,” we “fellowship in…” We desire to grasp a reality that is not lost, but neither fully realized. In a world of “apoplectic opulence,” we have much to lose, and everything to gain. That is the possibility before us.

He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One! — A Christmas Carol, Stave 5

A Christmas blessing to all who read and traverse these pages. God bless!

© 2016, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

{ 1 comment }