Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Blickensderfer Typewriter

San Lorenzo Valley Museum
We are very fortunate to have in our collection a Blickensderfer Typewriter No. 5. Invented in 1892 by George Blickensderfer from Stamford, Connecticut, the Blickensderfer typewriter was far ahead of its time. The No. 5, introduced in 1893 at the Columbian Exposition, was the first truly portable typewriter.

The keyboard only has three rows of keys and is based on the layout devised by James Hammond. The home keys are the bottom row and contain the most commonly used letters, DHIATENSOR. Instead of type on the end of a rod that hits a ribbon, the type on a Blickensderfer is set on a cylinder. By changing the cylinder you could change the font.
By changing the ink roll you could change the color of the type.

San Lorenzo Valley Museum Collection
Blickensderfer machines were adapted for Chinese and Hebrew characters, and also to type musical notes. The Japanese government was so impressed with the typewriter that it revised the written language so that the machines could be used in Japan.
The typewriter in the Museum collection belonged to Hallie Hyde Irwin. Hallie was the wife of renowned journalist and author William Irwin. When Willian, Hallie and their son William Junior came to Brookdale to visit William's father David and his brother Herman, Hallie so loved the Valley that she, and their son, never left.

Curio Factory by William Irwin
San Lorenzo Valley Museum Collection
Harriet (Hallie) Hyde, a Stanford University graduate, was a miniature oil painter, stained glass artist, and craftsperson. Her son William Hyde Irwin also became a locally renowned artist. Following his education at Stanford University, he pursued art studies at the CCAC, Académies Moderne and Colarossi in Paris, and at UC Berkeley.  He later taught art at Santa Cruz High School in the 1930s and at San Francisco State University (1950-51). We are fortunate to have some of  his work in the Museum collection.


Rivercroft, Brookdale, California
San Lorenzo Valley Museum Collection

Hallie also designed Rivercroft, their home in Brookdale. It was built over a period of ten years by Herman, Hallie and David Irwin (until his death). The timbers, flooring and doors were from the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco and were shipped to Brookdale via the Southern Pacific railroad. The home was completed in 1926.

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