1895 - 1902

The Jackson Typewriter Company

Boston, Massachusetts, US

 

Gorgeous, right? As it turns out The Jackson is as beautiful as it is a mysterious, wandering gypsy with a peculiar pedigree. It was probably the scion of another machine, the Conde. The Jackson was birthed in Bridgeport, Connecticut and came of age at a factory in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Unfortunately its production there was short and The Jackson migrated back to Connecticut to the town of New Haven in order to reorganize. It did not and it seemed to have been destined to fade into oblivion in that town. The Jackson, however, would not go quietly into the night. Like Lazarus, there would be one more attempt to raise it from the dead, in Canada.

 

Let's first establish there were two Jacksons: a Jackson Type I (below) and a Jackson Type II (top). More on these later.

I am interested in buying a Jackson typewriter or anything related to it including trade catalogs, images of the factories, photos of the men responsible for the Jackson, other ephemera, etc... Please feel free to contact me at Antikey.Chop@gmail.com

We can not discuss the Jackson without examining the Conde, which was a typewriter developed ca.1893 by Samuel Lee Conde (1837 - 1919). Samuel was in the New Haven & Bridgeport areas of Connecticut during 1894 when he probably met Joseph Hassel Jackson, a manager for Yost of Bridegport. The two men were to try and get the Conde produced and, in March of 1895, an announcement was made that a Boston factory was selected to do so. However, three months later, on July 21sts, the Sunday Herald ran a story stating that Jackson "was disappointed in [not] getting the requisite capital to start the Conde machine and since then has been devoting his time to perfecting a machine which will be known as The Jackson typewriter." Then, just ten days after that, Andrew Wilton Steiger (1856 - 1935), another Yost man, filed for five patents assigned to The Jackson Typewriter Co. of Boston (patent nos.557,909 - 557,913) that was similar to the Conde.

The Sunday Herald made a few other points of interest, too. First, it called Jackson a "hustler." Second, it noted that ex-Mayor Walter B. Bostwick (1840 - 1906), also a successful manufacturer and real estate investor, would be president of The Jackson Typewriter Co. Third, that the factory was to be in Bridgeport and that "two car loads of machinery" already arrived. Lastly, that the general offices would be at 45 Milk Street in Boston, MA. It seems that Jackson, Bostwick and Steiger were long intent on pushing out Samuel Conde.

In March of 1896 The Jackson Typewriter Company settled on a factory location at the corner of South Avenue and Walnut Street in Bridgeport, Connecticut. They expected to employ 200 men. A few months later Steiger's patents for the Jackson were awarded. It may have very well been the intention to produce the Jackson in Bridgeport but there is no evidence that suggests any ever were. As for the building where that factory may have been, it was torn down. That section of Walnut Street was eliminated in 1940 when the Marina Village housing project was established.

Why things didn't work out in Bridgeport is unknown but that does beg the question, "Where and when was The Jackson actually produced?" The answer is at 6 Clifton Street, Roxbury, Massachusetts in the years 1898 to 1902. It was a three-story factory. Inventor A.W. Steiger was listed as its foreman in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. Production seemed to finally be coming along once the company had settled. Between October and December of 1898 The Jackson Typewriter Company exhibited at the Boston Mechanics' Fair, and in March of 1899 the very first Jackson was finally placed on the market. On August 17, 1899 the first known ad for the Jackson was published, followed by another in November and another in January of 1900. There may be more ads but I've yet to find them.

I would also like to note that all of the artwork used by The Jackson Typewriter Co. was created by William Henry Bradley (1868 - 1962). W.H. Bradley was a very important Art Nouveau artist. He was the foremost poster illustrator of his time and the highest paid American artist of the early 20th century. He was a big deal! W.H. Bradley, a Boston native, had a studio in the Springfield, Massachusetts area at the time.

According to Boston's city directories, the general offices moved from Milk Street to 68 Devonshire Street by 1898. The company also formed The Jackson Typewriter Selling Co. by then at 117 Devonshire Street, which moved to 17 Federal Street by 1899. These offices were all within minutes of each other.

As mentioned earlier, the Jackson was produced in Roxbury through 1902, but there is a gray period. By early 1900 The Lyons Shoe Co. of Lyons, New York was courting The Jackson Typewriter Co. On April 27, 1900 the Lyons board of trade held a meeting to discuss moving the Jackson company from Boston to Lyons. The move was thought to be imminent. J.H. Jackson was in attendance as president of his company (ex-Mayor W.B. Bostwick moved on). On March 5, 1903 the Wayne County Review, a local upstate New York newspaper, reported that a typewriter factory was "nearly completed and that work will begin in it very soon." The statement was probably untrue.

This leads us to the Type II Jackson. Though in March of 1903 the factory in Lyons, New York was "nearly complete" it was also reported three months earlier that, by January of 1903, "The Jackson Typewriter Company had located its factory at New Haven, Connecticut." The Type II is clearly marked as having been developed in New Haven so we can establish that there was some activity there. Maybe the lease in Roxbury ran out before the new factory was ready and J.H. Jackson needed a temporary location, but that's purely speculative. There is no evidence that any Jacksons were ever produced in Lyons, New York.

The most obvious differences between the two models is the typebar arrangement and keyboard layout. The original design called for the typebars to rest against an ink pad behind the front shield. These would kick up and over towards the platen when a key was struck. The Type Type II had a more modern frontstrike system with an ink roller in front of the platen. While the Type II's typebar arrangement progressed, the keyboard's layout regressed. The original design had a four row layout and the latter had three.

It should be noted that the Type II may have been a prototype which is why it looks a little crude. But, because it is stenciled with what looks like a serial number, some may have been produced in series as well.

In his final act, by March of 1906 and with $20,000, Joseph Hassel "The Hustler" Jackson moved himself and The Jackson Typewriter Co. to the corners of Sanford and Cumberland Avenues in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. While in Canada he had filed for three patents in 1906, 1907 and 1908, each pertaining to a noiseless, upstrike typewriter (a blindwriter!). These patents were related to the two previous Jackson typewriters only by name. It is very doubtful if any were produced, other than maybe a prototype. In the coming years The Jackson Typewriter Co. would merge with The Tilden Co. (a stove manufacturer) to form The Tilden-Jackson Typewriter Co. In April of 1911, Schacht Motor Company of Ohio bought Tilden-Jackson and began producing "powered wagons" (automobiles) almost immediately.

Jackson