We recently had the good fortune to spot, win, and actually pick up the typewriter you're about to see. This is one of those machines that until now, anyway, was mentioned in some collector materials but not shown in detail. The machine is the "Signature," manufactured for only about seven months during 1949 by Woodstock Typewriter Company.
This machine represents a significant departure from the previous post-war Woodstocks, which themselves had already changed significantly once post-war. After the Second World War Woodstock continued manufacturing its regular standard machine (which had been built throughout the war for the Government) in overall crinkle black, as prior. In 1947, the machine was altered to segment shift by incorporation of a completely new and different key lever / type bar mechanism that perfectly retained the inherent speed characteristics of all prior Woodstock machines. In that same year, Sears Roebuck & Co. sold its interest in Woodstock Typewriter Company to Century America Corporation.
Century America changed nothing immediately - but in May, 1949 the machine you now see here appeared. The body style outside was changed everywhere, and an overall color scheme of brown and tan was applied.
The marketing of this machine was completely unique among not only standard typewriters of the day, but also among all standard typewriters ever built. You can click here to see a short YouTube video we did showing this marketing feature, and some of the features common to Woodstock typewriters that make them the favorites of some typists. The typewriter was said, in advertising. to "sell itself on sight because it's personalized!"
The serial number of the example you see here is N1060765, and information that came with it shows a date of December 7, 1949. That date correlates well with a corrected tabulation of Woodstock and R.C. Allen serial numbers, which in some lists are quite a bit off.
In November, 1949 the newly formed R.C. Allen Business Machines Inc. (itself formed only in March, 1949 by merger of several affiliated businesses Allen himself was involved with) announced it had purchased the Woodstock Typewriter Company, with all rights and good will. After an initial announcement that production would be moved to the Allen plant at Grand Rapids, Michigan, the decision was made later not to move the production, and it never did move.
Considering that this machine dates roughly to the last month of 1949, and that R.C. Allen labeled machines began rolling off the assembly line at the factory or or about January 17, 1950, this is certainly among the very last Woodstock typewriters ever made. I should quickly note however that R.C. Allen continued in production at the same plant with successive models through 1970.
What seems obvious now is that there really is, and has been, quite a tendency to ignore Woodstock machines on the internet and among collectors (outside of my now nearly defunct website pages on 'visible typewriters.') We are prepared to rectify that shortly, with a large article in the works right now showing literally every Woodstock variant from the start to the end, and the R.C. Allen variants as well. Our good friend Thomas Furtig has supplied photos from his collection, and we have several machines of both makes ourselves as well as paperwork to throw in. That post will be coming up shortly (within a week or two) following the acquisition of a couple more key pieces of information.
So, keep an eye on this blog for that big article / photo montage. I think it's exciting that there is such an unusual variant stuck right in the middle of the history of the two related product lines, so to speak, and I'm fascinated by it. It's also a wonderful typewriter of course - as are all Woodstock and R.C. Allen machines.
One final point, for now - it has not been lost on me that the December date, and personalized nature of the machine (which you'll see in the video) might well indicate that this machine was a Christmas present ... which makes it all the more fitting that we found it now, and are posting about it now.
6:30 PM 12/2/2014
Interesting. Very, very interesting. Did RC Allen continue with a machine with the same features after they took over? Is there a machine that has the same line lock features?ReplyDelete
You'll get to see that in our upcoming feature! We will show the very next model, in detail, because I have one. I think later on though after the RC Allen 700 appears a few years later with the whole VisOmatic automatic margin setting that the entire carriage changes, so I can't right off the top of my head make any guarantees about the margin behavior after that. I have one somewhere (a 700) that we can't seem to find at the moment, and it may have been as long as seven or eight years since I typed on it.Delete
In terms of any other brand having an identical set of behaviors regarding the carriage release, the margin stops, the key levers, space bar and M-R key I'm not aware of one.
Glad you liked the piece!
The warm and soothing combination of brown and tan certainly puts the "wood" into Woodstock! Great post looking forward to more. :)ReplyDelete
Thank you! Glad you liked it.Delete
Very cool! Looking forward to the photomontage.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Richard! It'll be a huge post, but it has to be done. Glad you stopped by!Delete
I'll be interested in seeing your updated table of Woodstock/RC Allen serial numbers - That's one of the pages on the Typewriter Database that I haven't revisited since Dirk originally compiled it. I do have some lists (NOMDA lists, mostly) that contain some Woodstock/RC Allen data - I'll take a look at what I have and send copies if it seems it might be useful for your research.ReplyDelete
Thanks Ted; we'd love to check it out. More is always better than less, even though we'll clearly have to throw out some sources. We do have a pile of NOMDA dealer books, so if that's your only source we appreciate the offer but have that. However if you have other material OR photos of any RC Allen or Woodstock machines you own, feel free to send those along! You probably have my email...Delete
I do wonder whatever happend to Dirk. Did anyone ever find out?
Would you be interested in some photos that I took at the Emerson/Woodstock/R C Allen factory this summer, plus other shots of the town. As I'm sure you know, the factory building has been restored as upscale condo's and is wonderfulReplyDelete
Happy New Year guys! great work!!
Absolutely we would be! Do you have either of our emails?Delete
I don't, but you can email me at justanolivernine at gmail. My laptop is acting up, but I'll try to send the pics.ReplyDelete
Boy, sure love that Signature - now that we know just what it looks like, I'll be on the look out for others!