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Shield your work from prying eyes!

From the Illustrated Phonograph World, 1893.

All I can say is I found this amusing… (see above and below).

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© 2018, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

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He married his typewriter

In the early days of the typewriter, the operator of the machine was herself called a typewriter. And drama, and sometimes frustration, ensued…

From the Wilmington Morning Star (Wilmington, North Carolina), July 19, 1891 —

Oh, and, yes, both men and women were called typewriters. Perhaps you are one too!

© 2018, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

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Blickensderfer’s last hurrah as a Remington

A quirky history

When Remington and other major manufacturers entered the portable typewriter market in the 1920s, the fortunes of smaller companies steadily declined. Corona, which had established itself as a market leader, thrived, but its sometime competitor, Blickensferfer, declined precipitously, ending its days as a secondary Remington product.

Introduced in 1893, the Blickensdefer was the first truly portable typewriter on the market, and with interchangeable type elements, it remained a top consumer choice from the 1890s through the 1910s. Blickensderfer faced insurmountable competition when in 1912 the Standard Typewriter Company introduced the Corona 3. That machine was so successful that the Standard Typewriter Company would adopt its brand as its corporate name. Blickensderfer, on the other hand, would see its name truncated as ownership of the company passed from one manufacturer to the next.

Final hurrahs

In 1919, the Roberts Typewriter Company purchased Blickensdefer and briefly manufactured the Blick 90. In 1926 or 1927, the tools and dies for the Blickensdefer were sold to Remington (many typewriter historians date the sale to 1926, but one news article dates the sale to 1927; see The Ithaca Journal, Ithaca, New York, June 24, 1927, here).

Why Remington, which had introduced a four-bank standard portable typewriter in 1920, would desire the Blickensderfer design is not entirely clear. Probably the company wanted to expand its product line, having only two designs, the Remington Portable Nos. 1 & 2, in its catalog. The newly minted Rem-Blick would be offered through Sears as a budget machine.

As Remington’s portable typewriter business grew, Remington often sought designs that would not compete with its primary machines. The Blickensderfer design also required less material, decreasing manufacturing costs, and Remington may have seen the Blick as a logical way to enter the budget market.

Falling prices

The price of the Rem-Blick did not hold steady through its short run in the Sears catalog. In the spring of 1929, it was offered at $24.95, but by the fall of that year, the price was two dollars less. In 1930, Sears reduced the price of the machine by a few more dollars and truncated the name to The Blick. That same year, Sears offered the Porto-Rite, another Remington machine that employed the design of the Remington Portable No. 2. Remington introduced the No. 3 in 1928, thus freeing the design of its predecessor for the budget market.

One suspects that as standard portable typewriters grew in popularity, the quirky Blickensdefer design simply could not endure. Its proprietary inking mechanism, a roller instead of a ribbon, likely dissuaded consumers. (How many collectors today have operational Blicks?) Richard Polt estimates that Remington manufactured perhaps 6,000 Blicks, a number that indicates modest success.1 However, it’s not entirely clear that the Rem-Blick performed as Remington had anticipated.

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© 2018, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

  1. See Polt’s description of the Rem-Blick and its name variants here. []