20 december 2011

The owner of my Blickensderfer, part 2

Since I left my Blick Featherweight back in Spain, I was eager to buy a new one. So, when I saw a 1894 Blickensderfer 5 on Ebay with an early serial number, 3.910 (out of over 190.000), I couldn't resist.  I am planning to restore it, but don't know when.

The most interesting thing about this typewriter, is the business card of a Kansas City retail grocer, called A.H. Boand, that came with it. I wrote about it when I received the typewriter at home. Last week, I did some more research about the former owner of my Blickensderfer. I contacted a relative on www.findagrave.com and learned that:
"Adolph [Boand] was born in Switzerland and immigrated to the US with his family in 1870. He was a grocer in 1900 and 1910 census in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1920 he was a dealer for Weigh Masters. His father was born in Switzerland and his mother from Southern France.  French was their mother tongue."
The relative didn't have any more information, but wrote me she would ask around.

I also found the death certificate of A.H. Boand, according to which he died of "General Paralysis of the insane" in 1931. According to wikipedia, this is a "neuropsychiatric disorder affecting the brain and central nervous system, caused by syphilis infection". After I read that, I was happy to find out at the same page that "syphilis cannot be contracted through toilet seats, daily activities, hot tubs, or sharing eating utensils or clothing." I guess that includes indirect contact through an ancient typewriter. ;)

Of course, I don't know if mr. Boand bought the Blickenderfer new or second-hand, but fact is that in 1895, he was one of the founders and the treasurer of the Retail Grocers’ Association of Kansas City. That fits with the profile of somebody who was in the position to need and buy a portable typewriter at that time (1894).

I made a video of the Blickensderfer. You can see it by clicking here. Make sure you watch it in HD and full screen.

11 december 2011

The Williams Typewriter Academy Model No 2 Foolscap

In my last post about the Williams Academy Typewriter, I pointed out that the address stamped on my machine corresponds with the address published in several post-1904 Williams advertisements. This means that the Williams Academy was probably made after 1904, and not in 1898, as previously mentioned on Will Davis' website.

Yesterday, I found an advertisement that was published regularly in the Irish Independent from April till May 1905. As far as I know, this is the only Williams advertisement that mentions the Academy model. The advertisement teaches us a lot about how this machine was marketed at the time (1905): 

"Six months ago we commenced selling our well-known WILLIAMS TYPEWRITER No. 2 at a discount of 40 per Cent from the established price. We not only reduced the price but added some new devices, thereby making the machine a little better than before. To distinguish from previous models we call it the Academy Model"

In the same advertisement, it is pointed out that the Academy model was on hire for 12 shilling and 6 dimes per month (roughly 50 dollars in todays US money). One year later, in 1906, a magazine called "The Shorthand World" placed a Williams advertisement according to which the company would "send a brand new latest model No 2 Williams Typewriter on two months trial at 12/6 per month". The Williams No. 2, however, was introduced in 1897, so it seems a bit weird to talk about it as if - nine years later - it was still the "brand new latest model". I think it is more probable that this advertisement was also about the Williams Academy.

I didn't find similar advertisements in old US papers, but on the internet, I found two pictures of the Williams Academy, made in USA: one on Flickr and the other one in the online Powerhouse Museum Collection.

Ah, and in case you wonder what is Foolscap: here is all you need to know.

Edit: I just received a copy of "Die Schreibmaschine und ihre Entwicklungsgeschichte", written by Ernst Martin (1949), and there it is (p. 129): "1904 erschien eine Neubearbeitung des Modells 2 zum preise von $ 65. Diese Maschine hatte jetzt die Verbesserungen des Modells 4, behielt indessen das dreireihige Tastenfeld bei."