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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Peter Paul Book Co. & Writing Machines


This ad cover for the Peter Paul Book Company (did they sell candy bars, too?) is devoid of any attention-grabbing vignette or decoration, but it caught my eye nonetheless. In small print beneath the company's particulars are the words: "We carry a full line of Writing Machine supplies." These booksellers, stationers, printers, etc. sold supplies for writing machines, but not the actual writing machine.


I assumed, correctly, they were referring to typewriters, but I wasn't completely sure. I don't recall ever having heard a typewriter referred to as a writing machine. Before my time, I guess.

Researching writing machines, I found a couple of interesting links for typewriter collectors and enthusiasts:

The Classic Typewriter Page: The Percy Smock Corner - Resources for the Typewriter Collector, by Richard Polt.
Percy Smock was a pioneer typewriter collector. A nice bibliography here for books, in and out of print, about typewriters. Periodicals listed also.

The Literary Piano, a Time Magazine article from 1954 that reviews two books about the invention of the typewriter and its effects on the writing culture.

These books sound like an interesting read because of current technology and the further decline of written communication. Today's concerns and fears echo similar thoughts from the late 1800s. With email and texting today, is handwriting a dying art? And with Amazon's Kindle, and other reading machines sure to come along, is bookselling (real books) a dying art?

As this ad cover led me to discover, the antiquated technology of a typewriter once posed questions about the demise of handwriting. It's still around. Current technology poses questions about the viability of bound books and bookselling. The jury's still out on these issues, but I feel certain the verdict will be favorable to both: Books, like handwriting, aren't going away.

Coincidentally, I had a conversation about books and Kindles with my dentist last night while getting a root canal (pre-drilling, waiting for the Novocaine to kick in). I highly recommend a bibliophile endodontist when going through something like that!

2 comments:

  1. I remember how silent the local newspaper room went, when they switched from typewriters (electric) to their first computers. There is something to be said about the click-clack of typewriters in action. Sometimes I think that each keystroke sends a signal that keeps the writer alert, where silent computer keyboards lull one into a state of unconsciousness.

    Enjoyed the post (as always). I miss my typewriter (an old cast iron Underwood manual which I put out the in trash in the early 1990's).

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great observation on the typewriters! Got me to thinking... Yep, there's software for it: http://www.colorpilot.com/home-typist.html

    ReplyDelete

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