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The Dart Marking Machine Typewriter

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, too. It was Goodwin that started The Type-Writing Company of Hartford which was later changed to 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.

Dart Typewriter Patent 1890
Dart Typewriter Patent 1893

Note that on Lewis' original patent drawing the Dart was meant to slide on rails within its frame. The problem with this 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). 

Fairfield would go on to start his own typewriter company in 1896. The company, The Hartford Typewriter Company, was surprisingly similar in name to that of the original Dart company. This could explain why the Dart company changed its name as early as 1894 with the introduction of the No.2 model. I assume it was probably done so to avoid confusion, or maybe legal woes. 

Dart Marking Machine

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, Lewis Dart (1830 - 1889), designed the machine to apply characters to crates, making it a cratewriter. It was marketed as a"movable typewriter" for "...addressing boxes and packages." Lewis, who owned the Hartford Novelty Co. at 253 Asylum St. when, in 1888, he filed for the Dart's patent had unfortunately passed before it was awarded. Instead, in 1890, patent no.432,479 was assigned to Wilbur E. Goodwin (1847 - 1905).

Hartford Novelty Company Ad 1888
Dart Typewriter Patent 1890
Dart Typewriter Factory from CT Historical Society
The Dart Marking Machine Company Stock from G. Burbano

The team of Goodwin and Hurlbut seemed to have been inspired by the basic design of the Dart when they attempted to produce two more index machines. The first was 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, 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 at shipping department of the National Cash Register Company. It illustrates the scale and versatility of the typewriter.

The Dart Marking Machine Company was located at 235 State Street in Hartford, Connecticut. In the photo above, it's the building with the tall, white sign on the second level. This area of State Street has since been completely torn down and aa highway 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. At this point the company began raising $60,000 in capital by selling shares.

Typewriter invented by Samuel C. Hurlbut
Stamp Printing Machine invented by Samuel C. Hurlbut
Dart Marking Machine Typewriter in Use
Dart Typewriter Ad 1890
Dart Typewriter Ad 1904

So what are the differences between a Dart model Nos.1 and 2? The majority are very subtle subtle, like the shape of the handle and the curve of the frame, but the singularly most striking difference is the index plate. The No.1's plate is undecorated and simply lists J.M. Fairfield as the manufacturer. The No.2 is more ornate with Victorian embellishments and it clearly announces "The Dart Marking Machine Co."

The Dart Marking Machine Typewriter
The Dart Marking Machine Typewriter

Advertisements for the Dart began populating various publications in 1890 while the last of them were published in 1904. It is probably safe to assume that all production of the Dart ceased shortly thereafter. Wilbur E. Goodwin, owner of the company, died in 1905 of Bright's disease on All Hallow's Eve. If there were any hopes to produce the Dart after 1904 then Goodwin's death was surely the proverbial "nail in the coffin."

Questions? Comments? Have a Dart Marking Machine or other Dart artifacts for sale? Please email me at or call +1 (860) 729-2252

The Dart Marking Machine Typewriter
The Dart Marking Machine Typewriter
The Dart Marking Machine Typewriter
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