1890 - 1904

Type-Writing Company of Hartford (1890 - 1894)

The Dart Marking Machine Company (1894 -1904)

Hartford, Connecticut, US


For purists, collectors that believe a typewriter should apply succeeding characters to paper, the Dart is by that definition not a typewriter. For the more liberal enthusiasts, to whom the writing surface isn't as relevant as the machine itself, then a device like the Dart fits the bill. The Dart's inventor design the machine to apply characters to crates, making it a cratewriter. It was invented by Lewis Dart (1830 - 1889) and marketed as a "Moveable Typewriter" for "...addressing boxes and packages."

Lewis owned the Hartford Novelty Co. at 253 Asylum St. when, in 1888, he filed for the Dart's patent. The patent was awarded in 1890 (patent no.432,479) but Lewis had already died. It was assigned to Wilbur E. Goodwin (1847 - 1905) instead.

The Dart Marking Machine Company was located at 235 State Street in Hartford, Connecticut. It's the building in the photos with the tall, white sign on the second level. This area of State Street has since been completely torn down and an on ramp to Founders Bridge has taken its place.


In 1896 the company incorporated under the State of New Jersey, though its headquarters were always in Hartford, and began selling $60,000 in shares.

So what are the differences between a Dart model Nos.1 and 2? Most are subtle like the shape of the handle and the curve of the frame. The most striking difference is the index plate. The No.1 index plate is plain and has J.M. Fairfield listed as the manufacturer. The No.2 is more ornate with Victorian embellishments and clearly reads "The Dart Marking Machine Co."

During the late 19th century there were few families more prominent than the Goodwins of Hartford. Their reach has transcended the passage of time and to this day there are a street, park, golf course, university building, hotel and other institutions with the Goodwin name on them. Wilbur Goodwin, assignee of the Dart's patent, was also part owner of Goodwin Brothers Pottery and the Elmwood Cycle Manufacturing Company. He was a postmaster and selectman. He would also start The Type-Writing Company of Hartford, which would later become the Dart Marking Machine Company. I get the impression that Wilbur was not mechanically inclined but more of an ideas man with lots of family money. All of the patents he owned, and there were several from various industries, were for inventions someone else developed. If Lewis Dart's typewriter was completely his idea or if he simply brought Goodwin's vision to fruition is up for debate.

Note on Lewis' original patent drawing that the Dart was meant to slide on rails within its frame. The problem with that design was that if an address were longer than the rails then typing would've become cumbersome. Enter Samuel C. Hurlbut (1841 - 1909) and John M. Fairfield (1847 - 1901). Hurlbut was an inventor and good friend to Goodwin. When Goodwin died, Hurlbut was one of the pallbearers. It was Hurlbut that rendered the Dart more nimble (patent no.441,068). Fairfield, who was responsible for the actual production of the earlier Dart No.1 models, would upgrade the machine's inking system in 1893 (patent no.491,046). 

J.M. Fairfield would go on to start his own typewriter company in 1896. The company, The Hartford Typewriter Company, was very similar in name to the Dart company. That could explain why the Dart company changed its name as early as 1894 with the introduction of the No.2 model. It was probably done so to avoid confusion, or maybe legal woes. 

The team of W.E. Goodwin and S.C Hurlbut seemed to have been inspired by the basic design of the Dart, when they attempted to produce two more index machines. The first appears to have been an index typewriter with a flat platen patented in 1891 (patent no.455,719). The second was an index stamping machine patented in 1897 that significantly resembled the Dart both in function and appearance (patent no.582,161).

As stated earlier, the Dart was always intended to be a cratewriter. It printed large 1" tall characters ideal for addressing wood crates which would have otherwise been stenciled on. The image below is of the Dart in use in the shipping department of the National Cash Register Company. It beautifully illustrates the scale and versatility of the typewriter.

Advertisements for The Dart began populating various publications in 1890. The last ads ran around 1904. It is safe to assume that production ceased shortly thereafter. W.E. Goodwin died on All Hallow's Eve, 1905 of Bright's disease, which probably drove the proverbial nail in the coffin for the Dart.

The Dart, like any Connecticut made typewriter, is especially relevant to me. Please contact me with additional information, questions or if you have a Dart for sale at Antikey.Chop@gmail.com

Dart Marking Machine

But what about the Dart's value? It's hard to place a number on something that doesn't come to market often but also isn't as desirable as other typewriters. Adler's book puts a value on it of high three figures, so let's say $900. Also, in April of 2017, an example showed up on eBay for $3.5K but didn't sell there. That Dart eventually sold privately to a Canadian collector, presumably for a figure between Adler's estimate and the eBay asking price.


Thanks F. Mantelli, G. Burbano & P. Weil for your assistance.