Munson typewriter, a beauty from 1890

The Martin Howard Typewriter Collection has a new treasure to show off: a Munson typewriter, with horizontal rods that control a hammer that strikes the page from behind:

The Munson typewriter is a remarkable piece of engineering, with a complex and original mechanical design packed into a small frame. Its inner workings are largely exposed, so the machine comes to life with moving rods and levers when being used.

The Munson does not have type-bars but uses a horizontal type-cylinder (about the size of ones finger) that slides from side-to-side and rotates to have the correct character move into place. Then a hammer strikes the paper from behind, pushing the paper against the ribbon and type-cylinder. Type-cylinders with different fonts were available.

With two shift keys, uppercase and figures, only three rows of keys are required.

The Munson was introduced in 1890 and did quite well on the market; however, today it is hard to find. The Munson became the Chicago in 1898 when the enterprise was bought and the typewriters were manufactured by The Chicago Writing Machine Co.

Munson 1 (Thanks Martin!)


  1. This is similar to the Teletype machine, with its 3 row keyboard and X-Y encoding of the character before typing it. 

  2. This is also similar to the IBM Selectric, which used a ball instead of a cylinder for interchangeable fonts.  I recall an online article on mechanical A-D converters not so long ago, showing how IBM used them to position the pitch and rotation for each key;  I’ll bet the Munson mechanism looks similar.

    1. The Blickensderfer typewriters are even more similar to the Selectric mechanism. (This moves the type drum side to side, and rotates it around the transverse axis, to change what character is selected. The Blickensderfers rotate the type drum around the vertical axis, and raise and lower the drum instead, compared to the Selectric rotating the type ball around the vertical axis, and tilting it around the transverse axis.)

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