Toy Typewriters

 

Even children got in on the act; they wanted to be just like Mommy and Daddy! Some companies capitalized on that and were quite successful. Most toys were index-type machines though later some typebar machines for children were marketed. Colorful graphics and economical construction were the orders of the day. As probably the most prolific toy typewriter manufacturer, Simplex, touted of their machines, 'They Teach - They Entertain'!
No serial numbers unless noted otherwise- click on the name to see the machine! Don't forget that our museum shows many more of these machines!

Lord Baltimore No 1 ca. 1894 or 1915? This little beauty was distributed by Baumgarten & Co of Maryland. We've located a letterhead from the Wm. Baumgarten Co. from 1894 where they are manufacturers of rubber stamps, importers of German novelties and a dealer in stamp supplies. The machine is stamped "PAT APPLD FOR" on the base which should identify it as American in manufacture. Very little is known about this machine and it's generally thought to be of 1890s vintage. We don't happen to think so as we have a Youth's Companion from 1915 that lists this typewriter as being available as a premium for getting one new subscription (+ 25 cents) or as a purchase for $1.10. Maybe you can help shed some light on this? It works by turning the dial to the selected character (inking the wheel by roller as you turn) and pressing the lever on the front. Spacing was a bit difficult- the lever on the paper table had to be pressed for this. Not terribly easy when there was paper in the machine and obviously would have been a nice improvement to make had a #2 model been produced!

Eureka ca 1902? Very little is known about this machine- it doesn't even have the name on it! The only way we know the name is from a picture in one of Adler's books that shows a folded instruction sheet next to the machine! We've found a couple of variations of presentation for this toy including a bent wood cover shown in the picture and a fold-down 'instant office' style with the name American on the lid. There are a couple of different inking mechanisms but both ink the type while turning the wheel. Printing was done by turning the wheel to the desired character and pressing the wheel down to the paper. Best we can come up with for origin of this machine is that it was given as a premium by the Stollwerck Chocolate makers in Belgium who also gave out a small tin phonograph of the same name.

The Simplex ca 1891 The Simplex is best known in it's toy form, but began it's career as a 'real' inexpensive, caps only typewriter. Though the model shown with this link was not marketed as a toy, we've put it here to keep all Simplex machines together. The cost? About $2.50! Shown with case.

Souvenir Simplex ca 1903 This rare Simplex model commemorates the centenial of the Louisiana Purchase. As seen on the closer view of the dial, both American and French flags are pictured as well as what are believed to be likenesses of Jefferson and Napoleon, the principles in the purchase. Here's a link to one side of a Souvenir Simplex Trade Sheet. The other side of this trade sheet is very interesting however! It not only notes that this Simplex was of limited number thanks to the postponement of the World's Fair, but it also shows that the Simplex was still being advertized as a serious typewriter for all uses including business!!

Rico A-1 ca 1930s How to describe it? Cheap, tinny, flimsy, crude, simple, though interesting, rare German made toy!! The five rows of type are on a single quarter-round faceted metal (brass?) sheet. The desired character was selected with the index pointer. Then, the lever to the left was depressed, bringing the carriage to the type plate. There is a small rubber pad for a platen, and this brought the paper into contact with the type. Inking was done by means of a short length of regular typewriter ribbon held in a clip of sorts. Very inefficient for regular use, but this was a toy! Having tried it ourselves with a new piece of ribbon we can say with all certainty that the printing was terrible at best! Could this be the reason for its scarcity? This one is in remarkable condition for a toy, and even survived with the original box. Instructions for use of the Rico are on the inside of the lid in 4 languages.

Practical #3 ca 1915 This was a variant of the Simplex toy model typewriter. This model had both upper and lower case, and converse to the earliest models, the platen moved and the dial was stationary.

Famos ca 1910 As far as we know, the jury is still out on whether this was a toy or not, but one sure thing is that it's scarce! There's nothing in the original instructions to indicate it was a toy, but it would only accommodate a small piece of paper- about the size of an index card! One neat feature was that the platen advance was a pin that perforated the paper while turning the platen. Another was that it printed, from a large suspended print wheel, around the platen as opposed to across it! Of note: the Famos was known to be made in both German and French language (under the name Victoria in France)- this one's in Spanish! The smaller picture shows it partly in the box with instructions.

Junior Modell 4 ca 1920 A German toy typewriter that utilized a rotating index type wheel on the top. The lever in the front at bottom was to 'shift' from lower to upper case. The keyboard is a dummy one for looks only. The right lever pulled the platen into the type for printing, and the left one was for spacing. This one is in blue, though they are more commonly found in black, and is shown with it's lid.

American Flyer ca 1930 Made by the same American Flyer of toy train fame, this was the first model which utilized a sliding indicator geared to a typewheel. This particular caps only model was unsuccessful due to it's use of fragile pot-metal gears. Remodeled soon after to eliminate the gearing, a lower case was also added, and it became moderately successful. There was no automatic advance for the ribbon- it was two black spools with ribbon that you turned manually as needed! Shown with box.

 

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