Ornate Victorian typewriter

AntiqueTypewriters.com has a great section on the Crandall New Model, "one of the most beautiful typewriters ever made."

It has a wonderful curved and ornate Victorian design and is lavishly decorated with hand painted roses, accented with inlaid mother-of-pearl!

Lucien S. Crandall was born in Broome County New York in 1844. He would become one of the great early typewriter pioneers during the 1860s and 1870s. He patented perhaps ten typewriters with six or so being manufactured. All of his designs are very intriguing and brilliantly imagined machines. The Crandall - New Model was his third typewriter to be manufactured but the first to have some success in sales.

The Crandall was the first typewriter to print from a single element or "type-sleeve", well before IBM's 'Golf ball' of 1961. The Crandall's type-sleeve is a cylinder, about the size of your finger (see photo below), which rotates and rises up one or two positions before striking the roller, achieving 84 characters with only 28 keys. The type-sleeve is easy to remove, allowing for change of font style and character size.

Crandall, New Model (Thanks, Antique typewriter Collector!)


  1. I’m just amazed how the Victorians totally predicted the Steampunk movement.  They were ahead of their time!

    1. I can’t wait to see some comment from far in the future about how us moderns were way ahead of the Gadgetpunk movement.

    2. My collection embodies the age of invention and the mantra of Steampunk, ‘The future of the
 past’ but as my eloquent friend Midori put it “What an appropriate choice to illustrate that truth can indeed be stranger than… steampunk!”

      Martin Howard (the collector)

  2. The keyboard ruins it for me. It’s jarring…you have this lovely device and your eye goes down and there’s a generic “Chiclet” style keyboard. 

  3. The first QWERTY typewriter came out in 1874, according to Wikipedia.  It must have been a pain to switch typewriters until that became a standard.

    Also, not digging the position of the CAPS key on this thing, or the tiny space bar.  Looks awesome, but I’m afraid it will come to life Naked Lunch-style.

    1. I’m not digging the realization that the use of apostrophes as decoration of plurals (“Cap’s”) was already there in the Victorian period…

      1. A lot of the ‘rules’ of English that people think are rules are a lot newer than they tend to realize. There is also no central authority for the English language like there is for French. That is why you have style guides like AP and Chicago.

        1. Perhaps the apostrophe is performing its function of standing in for omitted letters, taking the place of “ital” in “capitals”.

    2. Tiny space bar is not a problem. My space bar is already half the size it was in 1990 because of all the Windows (2x, I seriously hate them, good for nothing), fn and Alt-Gr keys. Japanese keyboards have a bunch of conversion keys in the bottom row _in addition_ to the ones mentioned above, which makes the space bar about twice the size of any other key. Still works fine.

  4. Any typewriter aficionados know what that snorkel is that looks like it could drip ink on the page?  Is this the government model with the auto-redacter?

    1.  I have no idea so this is just a guess, but perhaps it uses the force applied to the keys to pump air onto the freshly-typed character to dry the ink. I would guess the ink technology wasn’t particularly advanced, and perhaps it would run down the page if not blow-dried immediately.

    2. That “snorkel” is a brass cursor. It shows you where the next character will be printed. Very helpful when doing columns or tables. More to the point, what does the FAP key do?

      1. The FAP key is a shift key for Figures and Punctuation. The Crandall has two shift keys, the other one is for capitals.
        With two shift keys, giving three functions to each key, only two rows of keys are required.

        Martin Howard (the collector)

    1. bloody hunt-and-peck, that’s what it would be, and no easy repairs for a minor thing or two if and when they came up.  not to tinkle in the path of your motor-car– sometimes the art is the end product, not the lovely process.  

  5. I really DON’T want to imagine typing on this.  I have no issues with the key pattern. Heck, I learned to use QWERTY I expect I could learn to use this. My real issues are with the ergonomics.  The key are arranged in a convex arch, completely the opposite of what normal human hands suggest. Even straight across would be better and just as easy to manufacture.

  6. I had to double take to check that there are no letters missing… it really doesn’t look like it has enough keys for the whole alphabet!

  7. I am In Luvvv.

    Having used three-row QWERTY Corona and Underwood portables (which also use a dual-shift, three symbols per key system), I’d bet that the figs/caps shifting would be more maddening than the key layout; plenty of people use Dvorak or even DHIATENSOR but we’re used to no more than two symbols per key.

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