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Early Typewriter at the Mint

Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 3:23 am
by messydesk
My curiosity is piqued as to when the Mint Director's office first got a typewriter and what kind it was. I suppose the answer may be in the scanned stuff somewhere.

Re: 1888-S Morgan Dollar Die Study

Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 8:36 am
by morganman
JB; Typewriter 1st at mint??? Fantastic Question/Topic
The handwritten letters are so cool but many are damm hard to read.
Typewriter thing a huge deal 122 + yrs ago
Thanks Roger for all your posts on letters etc
Being a history nut, all this stuff is super cool

Re: 1888-S Morgan Dollar Die Study

Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 5:26 pm
by RogerB
morganman wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 8:36 am
JB; Typewriter 1st at mint??? Fantastic Question/Topic
The handwritten letters are so cool but many are damm hard to read.
Typewriter thing a huge deal 122 + yrs ago
Thanks Roger for all your posts on letters etc
Being a history nut, all this stuff is super cool
This is the earliest reference I have:
18801201 DM Order for typewriter ribbon-sm.jpg
18801201 DM Order for typewriter ribbon-sm.jpg (122.75 KiB) Viewed 892 times
December 1, 1880
Fairbanks, Moore & Co.
111 Lake Street
Chicago

Gentlemen:
I will thank you to forward to this bureau one dozen bundles of black copying typewriter ribbon manufactured by Stephen T. Smith, also instructions for the proper management of the machine. Forward your bill in duplicate for payment.
Very respectfully,
Horatio C. Burchard,
Director


Regarding Stephen Smith:
Pitman’s Journal. Typewriter Literature. London, July 3, 1915. p575

Death of a Typewriter Pioneer.
We regret to announce the death of Mr. Stephen T. Smith, who was for nineteen years the American General Manager of the Underwood Typewriter Co. Mr. Smith was closely identified with the early development of the writing machine; in fact, one might say without exaggeration that without Mr. Smith's inventive powers the typewriter would have been longer in arriving.

When the mechanical problems incidental to the construction of the early model typewriters had been solved, a fresh problem arose. This was the making of a properly inked typewriter ribbon. The only non-drying ribbons that were known at that time were made from a composite of glycerin and aniline. These were greatly affected by moisture. Sometimes they were too wet, at other times too dry. Experiments led to improvements, and at length Mr. Smith evolved what is now known as the Record typewriter ribbon, which was not affected by the atmosphere, but did not letterpress.

The typewriter ribbon invented by Mr. Smith made the typewriter possible. It gave a clear, sharp, bright impression, and became the most effective means of popularizing the use of typewriters. Mr. Smith then became the manufacturer of these ribbons for all the early machines, and was the only ribbon maker in the business. The next step in advance made by Mr. Smith, after some years of experimenting, was a copying ribbon, practically the same ribbons as those upon the market today."

The underlined statement was important for US Government bureaus, like the Mint. Presscopying was the only available way to make file copies of letters.

Re: 1888-S Morgan Dollar Die Study

Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 5:46 pm
by Longstrider
Very cool. Thanks Roger.🐍

Re: 1888-S Morgan Dollar Die Study

Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 6:43 pm
by messydesk
As I was saying, I figured there was a clue in the scanned stuff somewhere. 1880 is very early with respect to commercially produced typewriters. I found this likely candidate, the Remington 2, for one of the earliest typewriters at the Mint. It used ribbons, had both upper and lower case (unlike the Remington 1), and debuted in 1878 (a good year). Fairbanks, Morse & Co. sold them. One interesting thing is that the type struck the paper on the underside of the platen, so you couldn't see as you were typing.

Image

Re: 1888-S Morgan Dollar Die Study

Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 8:43 pm
by pete$298
Thanks to all for these posts. This is all very interesting information.

Re: 1888-S Morgan Dollar Die Study

Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 8:44 pm
by RogerB
None of the Morgan dollar correspondence from 1877 - 1879 is typed, so presumably Mint HQ did not have a typewriter until late 1879. (Of course, the files we have are largely drafts, not final letters sent outside Treasury.)

In 1897 the Secretary of Treasury required all letters to be typed and ordered an end to manuscript fair copy volumes. While this helps modern researchers a little, none of the old typewritten text can be reliably converted to machine-readable/searchable characters --- that is, OCR fails.

Re: 1888-S Morgan Dollar Die Study

Posted: Tue Jun 16, 2020 3:06 am
by messydesk
Just ran across this as the first typewritten letter in the scanned stuff, from November 10, 1880. A different typewriter from that which was used a few years later. Only upper case, so perhaps a "Remington Perfected 4."

Image
Then in the fair copy book, on November 11, the following to Fairbanks & Morse:
Image
Your bill of the 5th instant, for one type writer amounting to $50 purchased by me, has been approved and referred to the proper officers of the Department for payment.
In due course of departmental business, a draft for the amount will be mailed you.

Very Respectfully
Horatio C. Burchard
Director

(with apologies for hijacking this thread)

Re: 1888-S Morgan Dollar Die Study

Posted: Tue Jun 16, 2020 3:31 am
by LateDateMorganGuy
No hijack of the thread. This is all good stuff!

Re: 1888-S Morgan Dollar Die Study

Posted: Tue Jun 16, 2020 5:26 am
by blh74
Sure can learn something new everyday. Thanks to all who posted.

Re: 1888-S Morgan Dollar Die Study

Posted: Tue Jun 16, 2020 3:59 pm
by RogerB
Might be good to extract the typewriter posts and put them all in a separate thread. Interesting stuff. I wonder if there is a "first typed Standard Silver Dollar letter" someplace?

To add a bit -- the archives include typed letters of earlier date, but these were made later for unknown purposes.

Re: Early Typewriter at the Mint

Posted: Tue Jun 16, 2020 8:25 pm
by RogerB
The Nov 10 letter is the first typed document appearing among the General Correspondence.

Re: Early Typewriter at the Mint

Posted: Tue Jun 16, 2020 9:00 pm
by messydesk
And since the next day, he approved paying for it, he must have liked it.

Re: Early Typewriter at the Mint

Posted: Wed Jun 17, 2020 2:22 pm
by messydesk
I contacted Martin Howard, the collector behind this (impressive) antique typewriters website to see if he could confirm the make and model of the typewriter based on the typeface. He said that several fonts were in production at the time, so that alone wouldn't give away what model the typewriter was, but Remington Perfected 4 was quite likely, and the earlier Remington 1 was also a possibility. Either way, he was rather excited to see the letter and was rather impressed that it existed and could represent the first typed letter sent by the mint.

Re: Early Typewriter at the Mint

Posted: Wed Jun 17, 2020 2:46 pm
by RogerB
Interesting stuff !

A typewriter sure beats hand engraving the inscriptions on every Morgan dollar, too...... :)