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H7198 Index typewriter, with cover, portable, 'American index No. 2 (curved index)', wood / metal / rubber, made by American Typewriter Co, New York, New York, United States of America, c.1893. Click to enlarge.

American Typewriter Co index typewriter

Made
This is an 'index' portable typewriter known as the 'American index No. 2 (curved index)'. Index machines are different to typewriters in that they have no keyboard, instead using an indicator or pointer for type figure selection and have only one key. The 'American index No. 2' wrote 71 characters.

Index machines were popular for use in the home because they were portable and cheap. The 'American index No. 1' was advertised at the time as the 'American $5 Typewriter' indicating that these …

Summary

Object No.

H7198

Object Statement

Index typewriter, with cover, portable, 'American index No. 2 (curved index)', wood / metal / rubber, made by American Typewriter Co, New York, New York, United States of America, c.1893

Physical Description

Black enamelled metal frame with fine gold line in a scroll decoration. It has a 2cm diameter platen swinging sector mechanism. The required type figure is selected by moving the indicator over the alphanumeric keyboard display located directly above the typeface frame. The typewriter is activated by depressing the key at the front of the keyboard display, and rubber typeface (missing) mounted on a semi-circle frame are pressed on to the platen by rods. The spacing key is on the left hand side.

This is an 'invisible' typing action typewriter, meaning that the typist cannot see what is being printed on the paper. The nameplate on the keyboard display reads 'American Typewriter Co./265 Broadway New York/Patented', and on the metal plate below the platen it is marked '5 [3] 33' [583c?]. The typewriter is mounted on a 300 x 195mm wooden plinth. The typewriter has a brass pin hinge for a painted black steel cover in a square shape, with a metal handle.

Dimensions

Height

75 mm

Width

150 mm

Depth

237 mm

Production

Notes

As competition increased in the manufacture of typewriters after the 1880s, typewriters of various design were released on the market. Parallel to the development of typewriters, 'index' typewriters or 'index' machines were developed. The American Typewriter Co. manufactured two index machine models from 1893. The 'American index No. 1' was slightly smaller than the 'American index No. 2'.

The cost of the average typewriter was $100; an 'index' machine could be between $1 to $15 (1). 'Index' machines were developed and marketed for the home rather than the office; they were cheap and portable, but also slower (2).

The 'index' machines made by the American Typewriter Co. comprise the swinging sector design in which the type characters are mounted on a sector of a circle. Impressions are made by rotation and registration of the sector followed by contact with the paper by pressing the sector against the platen, by springing the character by a plunger, or by hammer impression (3). Inking is by rollers.

References
(1) Rehr, Darryl. Antique Typewriters & Office Collectibles: Identification & Value Guide (Collector Books, 1997)
(2) James, Duncan. Old Typewriters (Shire Publications, 1993)
(3) Richards, G. Tilghman. The History and Development of Typewriters (South Kensington: Science Museum, 1948)

History

Notes

This index typewriter was gifted to the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in 1962 by Mr John Shorter, who owned a company under his name on Clarence Street, Sydney. It was put on display in the Museum train between 1982 and 1983, and was used in the exhibition 'Museum on the Move' from 1984 to 1988.

The first typewriter was developed by Christopher Latham Sholes in 1868, and presented to E. Remington & Sons of Ilion, New York five years later. Patents for writing machines predated Remington's manufacture of the typewriter, beginning with the patent made by Henry Mill in 1714. During the 1850s in Britain the Hughes Typograph was manufactured for use by the blind (1). Even still, named the 'Sholes & Glidden Type Writer' and more commonly known as the Remington, Scholes' typewriter founded the typewriter industry (2). The typewriters used in the early 21st century are developments upon this design.

The American typewriters were machines made by the American Typewriter Co., New York. American 'index' machines were an indicator type of machine manufactured from 1893 by the American Typewriter Co. In Europe they were marketed as the 'Globe'. Index machines were manufactured by the American Typewriter Co. before their manufacture of keyboard machines in 1901, but they are not precursors to these typewriters. Rather, index machines show the variety of design of typewriters during the late 1800s. 'Index' machines had no keyboard, instead consisting of an indicator or pointer for selecting letters and a separate key that was pressed to print (2). The 'American index No. 2' wrote 71 characters, including upper and lower case letters, numbers, symbols and even the fractions ½ and ¾. It did not use the QWERTY arrangement of characters on the keyboard display like the 'Sholes & Glidden Type Writer'.

While the 'Scholes & Glidden Type Writer' was designed to print on the underside of the platen making the print invisible to the typist, the development of the design from 1890 onwards sought to make the print visible to the typist while typing. Patented in 1893, the 'Underwood No. 1', had a front-stroke design, and it was a popular typewriter that made the print visible to the typist (3). The 'American index No. 2' still used an 'invisible' typing action.

References
(1) Richards, G. Tilghman. The History and Development of Typewriters (South Kensington: Science Museum, 1948)
(2) Rehr, Darryl. Antique Typewriters & Office Collectibles: Identification & Value Guide (Collector Books, 1997)
(3) James, Duncan. Old Typewriters (Shire Publications, 1993)

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Shorter, John (Managing Director), 1963

Acquisition Date

24 January 1963

Cite this Object

Harvard

American Typewriter Co index typewriter 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 24 September 2021, <https://ma.as/247717>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/247717 |title=American Typewriter Co index typewriter |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=24 September 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}