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“Not in the habit of writeing letters”

In the early 1900s, people found work in an entirely new industry: the typewriter, one of many technologies that signaled the dawn of a new era. During this time, typewritten correspondence was becoming a thing, and demand for machines was ever-increasing.

J.S. Wade was one of the many finding employment in this new field, landing a job at Remington in Denver, Colorado. Apart from a single letter in my collection, I have no other information about J.S. Wade, but his letter speaks volumes.

“My Dear Aunt,” he wrote in 1903, “I sent you a letter a short time ago and will try to send you another… I am still working at the Remingtin [sic] Typewriter Co. and like it very much.”

The letter, generally uncorrected, continues: “We are all well and happy.” He notes that Mamma intends to watch a show with Mrs. Sutton, and Papa intends to go fishing and hunting for the summer. Delightfully, J.S. employs a mere two periods in the letter, preferring commas where else periods should be employed. At the end of the letter, he even “corrects” his punctuation, converting a much-needed period into a comma.

His letter is brief and self-deprecating: “You must not laugh at me because I skip around so with my letter for I am not in the habit of writeing [sic] letters.” He ends affectionately saying, “You must write soon and let us know about the folkes [sic] down where you are, well so long for this time and be happy.”

It is interesting to note that instead of a lower-case L for the number 1, he employes the capital “I” — the early standard Remington’s did not have 1’s — which is evident in the date. How many people preferred the Roman numeral I, not knowing that the lower-case L was intended for that use? Seems even Remington employees did not know this.

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© 2018, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

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Typed.

© 2018, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

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Remington execs discuss typeface

From a letter dated May 10, 1912, containing a specimen of a form of the Gothic typeface.

In the early days of the typewriter, the typeface was generally determined by the machine, with different machines serving different purposes. (Some typewriters, like the Blickensdefer, did offer interchangeable fonts, but these machines were not particularly capable of producing multiple copies.) A letter between executives at Remington in 1912 (partially preserved in my collection), offers some insight into the process of designing a typeface for machines making multiple copies.

The letter, dated May 10, 1912, outlines some concerns over a particular Double Gothic type used in machines sold to the Prudential Insurance Company. Writes a Remington executive to A.A. Forrest, vice president of the Union Typewriter Company (a trust largely controlled by Remington), “The general effect of the Ilion made type is that of a very much condensed letter which is very tall in proportion to its width. This seems to present a disproportion between the width and the height which is not quite as pleasing to the eye as the proportion of the other design — see such letters as E, F, T, L, etc.”

Of particular concern was the effect of “heavy manifolding,” i.e., the making of multiple copies, so a new design was offered to serve this purpose (included in the letter). “The new designs made here, when used as they are capable of being used to advantage in the wider spacings of 9 1/4, 8 1/2 and 8 characters to the inch will, we fully believe, do better work and present a better appearance.”

The Gothic typeface appears to have been a sans serifs style of font, that also appeared on the Remie Scout Model in the 1930s.

Two pages of the letter are included below:

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© 2018, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

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