7 de enero de 2012

Stella - a lonely star on typewriter heaven

Last time we talked about Octave Rochefort's "Dactyle" typewriter. A friend just mailed me the copy of a Dactlye advertising booklet from around 1900 (the company was founded ca. 1893, and in the booklet they claim that in the past eight years, they had sold 8.000 Dactyle typewriters in France alone).

Interesting enough, the Dactyle company at that time not only sold Dactyle typewriters model 2 and 3 (equivalent to the Blickensderfer models 5 and 8), but also a typewriter called "Stella".

The ad shown below is pretty detailed and features a good photo and thorough description of what seems to be a hybridation between the Dactyle n°2 and an index machine. Bear in mind that "Stella" cost only 100 francs, as compared to 250 for a Dactyle n°2. The ad starts off admitting that "Stella" might be a good deal slower than the Dactyles. However, on the whole it would perform well, as this would be the only disadvantage. The print would be impeccable and it could manage up to 10 carbon copies easily. 

Stella would use the same type wheel and carriage as the Dactyle. But then, the print was not done by keys, but in two movements using first the type wheel to choose the letter, then push to print it.

© Au fil de la plume, n°85 
© Au fil de la plume, n°85
As all the other products in the Dactyle catalogue are licensed and not own developments, I supposed that also the "Stella" might be a re-brand of an original developed elsewhere. Et voilà, thanks to a mental spark connecting the right synapses, combined with information from Chuck & Rich's Antique Typewriter website and museum I could find it: NIAGARA!

© typewriter.rydia.net
According to the information given by Rich & Chuck, these are pretty rare machines, so watch out for next time it crosses your path. At that moment, flip your wallet open and smile.

Some more information: - sales price was 15 dollars in the U.S., 70 RM in Germany, and as already mentioned 100 French francs. Ernst Martin p.192 reports that the first year of production of the Niagara was 1902 (so probably the brochure presented here dates from shortly after 1902). Although sales seem to have been low, it was produced at least past 1909, when - again according to Martin - Blickensderfer introduced a Hebrew version of this machine.
- The highest serial number I could find (Niagara) is 300 (Finnish typewriter museum).
- One more name variant: a Niagara labeled "Best" is mentioned in Historische Bürowelt n°1, 1982.

3 comentarios:

  1. C'est une jolie machine.
    Interesting that they point out that tt's slower in the advert.

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  2. The Niagara is super-rare, and I suppose this name variant is even harder to find. I'm not sure I've ever seen a photo of one.

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  3. Very interesting. Both are new to me.

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