1919 - 1922
The Gourland Typewriter Mfg. Co.
New York, NY, US
In 1919, Michael Jacob Gourland (1879 - 19??) and his investors incorporated The Gourland Typewriter Manufacturing Company. The company would put into production a frontstrike, four-row typewriter that was small enough to be considered a portable yet feature-heavy like a standard. Several of the Gourland's patents were designed by legendary typewriter visionary Charles Spiro. Spiro famously invented the Bar-Lock typewriter a few decades prior.
As mentioned, The Gourland Typewriter Manufacturing Company was incorporated in 1919 in New York. Stocks were offered to raise capital and a newspaper ad was published to get the word out. The ad mentioned that a "contract has been entered into for the manufacture of 50,000 machines during the first year." Those 50,000 machines were to be delivered in May, 1920. Well, either the company was fibbing in order to up-sell its stock or a catastrophe struck the fledgling business. Nowhere near 50,000 machines were produced which is evident by the relatively few that have been found today. The stocks were offered by Clark Williams and Company. Mr. Clark Williams, very conveniently, also happened to be the Vice President for The Gourland Typewriter Manufacturing Company.
It is rumored that the Wright SpeedWriter & Alexander were rebranded versions of the Gourland. Personally I think its the other way around. Inventor Jesse Alexander filed for a patent for a similar typewriter, The Alexander, in 1912, which was issued to him in 1916 (patent no.1,203,836). That predates the Gourland. Note the image from the Alexander patent which greatly resembles the Gourland. Also, Gourland ads mention a Brooklyn factory where they were produced and, as it turns out, Jesse Alexander also had a Brooklyn factory. Furthermore, the initial stock offer for the Gourland seemed to freely quote the Alexander patent, sometimes verbatim.
An early ad for the Gourland states that it is "Non-Folding. Non-Collapsible. Therefore Stronger and more Durable." The statement was probably a swipe at the market dominant Corona 3 folding typewriter and a move in on its business. Gourlands had a "fixed" retail price of $75.
Gourlands were mostly ordinary. They had four rows of keys typing 84 total characters and weighed just 9-1/2 lbs with only 625 parts total; all ordinary. Not ordinary, however, was its flip-up carriage mechanism. This feature would have been common on blindwriters but the Gourland isn't a blindwriter. It's a fully visible typewriter. So why the carriage flip up?... to expose the tab stops, of course.
Michael Gourland was a Russian lawyer with ties to the Soviet government. In fact, he was in the US at the request of the Soviets to oversee a "major" purchase in 1916. His original visit was to be short but his government extended it with another project. Gourland was not dismayed, aside from executing his tasks, he took the opportunity "...to be able to give to Russia her first typewriter, The Gourland." As and patriotic as his sentiment was, it misinformed. Russia had already produced a typewriter.
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With very little mechanical know-how, if any, about how to produce a typewriter, it was an unrealistic venture. To actually do so in less than three years makes me think that he simply threw as much money at the project as he could to force it through. All this makes reassures my belief even further that Gourlands were rebranded Alexanders, just slightly modified. I can't find records of when or why the company was dissolved but it seems that it shut down just as quickly as it started up. Though, in 1922, The Gourland Typewriter Manufactring Co. was sued by Stanley Works over labor disputes so maybe it ceased production shortly thereafter.