Hammond Typewriter Co.
Upper East Side, Manhattan, New York, US
James Bartlett Hammond (1839 -1913) presented the Hammond No.1 for public consumption in 1884. He had purchased patents from John Pratt, a noteworthy inventor in the saga of the typewriter, and began the laborious process of creating his own machine. J.B. Hammond filed his first patent in 1875 (patent no.232,402) but it wasn't until an 1880 patent application (patent no.494,742) that we begin to see the curved shape of this distinctive typewriter. The Hammond No.1 was slated for release in 1881 but setbacks pushed the date out by three years. Among the many innovations within Hammond's typewriter were (1) the curved Ideal keyboard, (2) a mechanism for even printing and, (3) the type shuttle/turret.
Hammond's Ideal keyboard was an attempt to improve on the QWERTY keyboard introduced with the Sholes & Glidden typewriter. The Ideal layout was, in fact, not as ideal to the masses as Hammond had hoped. A straight universal keyboard was soon offered.
Hammonds utilized a mechanism that allowed for even printing, no matter how hard the keys were struck. The same mechanism also prevented a sheet of paper from being fed while typing. Instead, each new sheet had to first be fully fed into the paper basket below the platen. Then, the sheet was expelled one line at a time while typing. This function gives Hammonds their distinctive form.
As for the type shuttle/turrett, the most ingenious of Hammond's innovations, the concept was strong enough to have been utilized for nearly 100 years, most recently on the VariTypers. The type elements
found on Hammond no.1s are a two-piece split turret design. Later, these two pieces would be made redesigned as a single semi-circular element. These type shuttles allow the typist to compose in any language, typeface or font size by simply
swapping one shuttle for another. This wasobviously much more cost effective than
purchasing an entirely different machine.
Mechanical innovations aside, the Hammond no.1 model is easily recognized by its beautiful oak case and dark ebony keys. Also exclusive to the no.1s are the celluloid cover below the type shuttle and a patent plate above the keyboard.
J.B. Hammond was definitely an interesting fellow. He worked as a correspondent for the New York Tribune during the US Civil War. It is believed that his frustration with telegraph operators incorrectly transmitting his handwritten notes is part of the reason Hammond entered the typewriter field. As president of his company,
Hammond's public eccentricities eventually got him committed shortly in 1907. He was committed to Bellevue sanitarium at the request of a company manager and his own brother. His employees rejoiced when he later found sane and returned to his post. In 1908 when Hammond thought he would soon die he gave away 520 company shares to selected employees.
When he realized death wasn't as imminent he successfully sued to prevent further sales of his company. Finally, upon his actual death, James Barlett Hammond managed to shock everyone one last time. He had bequeathed his entire estate, patents and 95% of his company to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Hammond Typewriter Co. was located at 639 E.69th St., on the Upper East Side of Manhattan Island, New York. It stood right on the river. The specific address no longer exists since the factory was torn down along with several buildings in the area. A teaching hospital has since been erected at that location.
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