.Davis Typewriter Works

.Davis Typewriter Works

Reading List

Collected here are our "vital links" to books, publications and some websites.  Books are the primary tool covered here.

• Books about the typewriter industry (manufacturing, sales, repair.)

There are a number of books which have been available that give insight into the typewriter business itself.  As long-time readers of my work already know, I've always considered it essential to the collector to view the typewriters themselves as what they really are -- not collectibles, or ornaments, or play-toys, but machines -- and in order to do that properly, it's important to understand the 'business end' of typewriters.  Some collectors will forgo this sort of thing, but for most, one or more of these books will provide enough insight into the workings of the typewriter business at some point that it (or all) would be valuable to own.

An added note:  Readers of our site(s) will not fully understand our approach to the machines unless they read at least one of the following four books.  The more of them one reads, the better one will understand the nature of our presentations on our site(s).

"The History of the Typewriter - Successor to the Pen."  -- 'An Illustrated Account of the Origin, Rise, and Development of the Writing Machine.'  G. C. Mares.  ©Dan R. Post, 1985.    This book is a modern reprint of Mares' monumental and very early work originally published in 1909.  According to Mares himself, the work was originally thought completed in 1907 but rapid developments in the industry seemed to require insertion into the book, so that publication was delayed two years.  This volume was printed in Great Britain, but includes all major and many minor American made machines.  Mares' work was definitely made with great knowledge of these early machines (some 280 models are included in the book) and the contemporary view so soon after the introduction of the typewriter, and right at the explosion of visible writing machines and early front strike portables makes this volume wholly unique.  Five Stars.

"The Typewriter - An Illustrated History."  Typewriter Topics.  ©2000 Dover Publications.    This book is a modern reprint of what originally appeared as 'The Typewriter - History and Encyclopedia' in October 1923, published by Typewriter Topics - The International Office Equipment Magazine.  This volume was an attempt at that time by the editors of the magazine to compile all world-wide known history of typewriter manufacturing.  The magazine was, clearly, a trade paper (written for those in the business) and as such the content of this publication is certainly a vision inside the business.  It's important to note that this book was one of Wilfred Beeching's primary sources (an original copy, not this reprint.)  There are some apparent errors in this book -- but upon careful review, some of them are not errors at all but recollections of nuanced events in the business by the editors.  Four and a half Stars.

"Demise of the Typewriter - Recollections of the Queensland Era."  John C. Hay, Colin and Mary Jones.  A Typewriter Heritage Publication.  ©2002 John Hay and Colin Jones.  Printed by Inprint, Cairns.    This book is an amazing retelling of first hand accounts from men in the typewriter business in and around Queensland, Australia from the 1930's through the end of the time when typewriters were viable products.  Unparalleled in its realism, this book stands alone in its depiction of the typewriter business on the dealer end.  Includes gallery, glossary, reference to many kinds of typewriters, selected bibliography, and the story behind this book's development.  Five Stars.

"Century of the Typewriter."  Wilfred A. Beeching.  ©1990 British Typewriter Museum Publishing.   This volume is actually a modified and improved version of the book originally published under the same title in 1974 by Beeching, himself a long time typewriter dealer (Spinks and Beeching, Ltd.)  This book covers, from an industry perspective, the histories of all of the major typewriter manufacturers (that survived the post-World War I recession, anyway) and some minor ones.  Beeching clearly used the Typewriter Topics compendium for some of his information, while other came from his knowledge of the industry, earlier "official" histories written by the manufacturers, and industry contacts.  This book contains a large photo catalog in the rear, mostly of machines in the Milwaukee Public Museum collection.  This book is a great general treatise on the typewriter - from the manufacturing business, to sales, to options.  Many keyboard styles are shown, with special language and character types included as a reference.  The frank style of the author is a welcome aspect of this weighty volume - in content, if not in size.  Four Stars.

•Collector's Books

These are books written in the latter day, as it were, for the purpose of reference for typewriter enthusiasts and collectors.  This is not to say that none of the books in this category includes valuable manufacturer-based information; in fact, much of that comes from the authors' knowledge, in part, of the above listed volumes and personal research.  However, if one wants a handy reference for many various makes and models of typewriters, some sort of collectors' guide is essential at least for the purpose of seeing a machine (so that one might know if a discovered example is complete, say) and for comparative values, even though they're comparative only since the books are out of date.  I have not been a large purchaser of 'collector's books' on the subject, but the two that I used to have with me on every single antique trip are listed below -- and they got used a lot while I was a new collector.

"Antique Typewriters from Creed to QWERTY."  Michael Adler.  Schiffer Books.  ©1997 Michael Adler.   This book is far and away the best one-volume source on all typewriters.  Adler clearly used two major sources previously mentioned here (Typewriter Topics' 1923 compendium, and Beeching's 1974 book) for construction of some of the content.  However, the book is useful for alphabetically arranged and pretty solid entries on a huge variety of typewriters.  Especially interesting is the section on typewriters never actually built.  Four stars.

"Antique Typewriters & Office Collectibles - Identification & Value Guide"  Darryl Rehr.  Collector Books 1997.  ©Darryl Rehr.  This book is perhaps the finest of the collectors' books for clear, large color photos of collectible typewriters.  While highly common or modern machines aren't included, there is enough here to whet the appetite of any typewriter enthusiast.  Three and a half Stars.

We will add to this list as time permits.


Plustype  --  Markus Elster has collected the photos of his father's collection into one place.  A fascinating collective visual registry of hundreds of typewriters.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this excellent list. It is a pity that Ernst Martin's book is not translated into English - it stands out as a titanic work and probably saved large parts of typewriter history to fall in oblivion. Today, it is still the best reference I use.