Belhaven Treasures

Have you walked through a large bookstore lately? One stroll through a Barnes and Noble is enough to warm the cockles of the most staid book lover's heart, standing in awe at the vast number of books and periodicals from which a reader may take a selection. Such a cornucopia of literature is possible in this modern age because of the ready availability of state-of-the-art publishing, specifically because of modern word-processing machines. At the turn of the century, though, "cut-and-paste" work required actual paper and scissors. That's when the typewriter began to see widespread use in offices across the country.

Christopher Latham Sholes of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, designed the first typewriter in 1867. He patented it in 1868, working in conjunction with Carlos Glidden and Samuel W. Soule. In 1873 the firm of E. Remington and Sons, famous for the production of rifles, procured rights from Sholes and began manufacturing typewriters under their brand name in 1874.

The museum has three Remington typewriters in its collection, including a Model 6 and a Model 12 (built in May of 1940). Although they are heavy and bulky compared to more modern machines, they have the same basic keyboard. Like many typewriters built toward the middle of the century or later, there is no key for the numeral "one," which must be formed by striking the key for a small-case letter "l." Exclamation points are produced by typing a period, backspacing, and then typing an apostrophe. Output can even be stored electronically in a personal computer, using a flat-bed computer scanner (sold separately).

Come and see this piece of history and others in "Granny's Attic," the Belhaven Memorial Museum.

Belhaven Treasure #10

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Diane K. Mason, HTML Editor 1998