Unfortunately there is virtually no information available about this item, but the inscription on the back of the brass index, which reads "O.A. Ericsson, Patent No.5," does yield some clues. First, it lets us know that the inventor was Oskar August Ericsson (1844 - 1910) who was also a manufacturer located in Gothenburg, Sweden during the 2nd half of the 19th century. Second, the word "Patent" indicates that this item was actually patented. Finally, the "No.5" designation refers to the model.
Though I couldn't locate any ephemera evidence for the No.5 to help date it, I was able to locate another model, the No.80, which has been dated to ca.1880. I don't believe the two were produced concurrently so the No.5 is probably dated earlier.
The first thing one notices about the No.5 is its aesthetic. It has a japanned, cast iron, claw-foot frame that is embellished with gold pinstripes and a hand painted floral motif. The levers are steel, the knobs are wood and the index and carriage are brass. The second thing one notices is the size. At about 15-1/2" long, 9" tall, 8" wide and weighing more than 26 lbs., it is one of the heaviest checkwriters known.
To operate, simply place a check on the carriage under the hold-down bar and slide it between the round discs. Select the digit from the index and depress the top lever. The digit will be perforated by pins into the check and the carriage will advance. The small brass lever sticking out from the front of the machine is the carriage return lever.
The term "checkwriter" is the generic label assigned to any physical device that prevents the fraudulent manipulation of a check. These devices could be synonymously referred to as check protectors. Sub-categories, based on how a checkwriter works, include check punches and check perforators. Since the Ericsson No.5 pierces the check with a set of pins that form each character, it would be correct to call it a check perforator. And if you're from Sweden, you would call it a växelperforeringsapparat.
There was no relationship between Oskar and the Ericssons that made the telephones and sewing machines.
I would like to extend my gratitude to the decedents of Oskar Ericsson, especially Mr. Jan Brems, for supplying the ephemeral images seen on this page.
See other check protectors I'm interested in here...