Postals were awarded their patent in 1904 (patent no.755,545), on which Franklin Judge (1873 - 1963) was named co-inventor, though his contributions are questionable. In his time, Quentell filed for three prior patents in 1901 & 1902 that were obviously early versions of The Postal. Judge, however, was not listed on any of them. In a 2006 interview, a descendant of Judge assumed that Quentell was simply the financial backer, to which I have to respectfully disagree since Quentell was already quite the prolific inventor. The two men worked on future projects together, too, like, in 1912, a calculating machine.
1902 - 1909
The Postal Typewriter Company
New York, New York &
Norwalk, Connecticut, US
What would you get if you crossed a Blickensderfer, Hammond, Franklin and Keystone?... a Postal, of course! William Prehn Quentell (1861 - 1932), the Postal's inventor, displayed little reservation about borrowing innovations from other established brands. Too bad for him that all those borrowed innovations were already on borrowed time. Keep in mind that production of Underwood's standard, the machine that changed the landscape of how typewriters should function, had already begun.
Before the Postal, Quentell also invented the Keystone so it is understandable why the two machines would appear so similar. As for why The Postal had a Blickensderfer-like typewheel, Franklin-like ribbon mechanism or Hammond-like index pins, well, at this point all we can do is speculate about these coincidences. Nonetheless, Postals (and Keystones) are lovely addition to any collection.
The Postal Typewriter Company commenced production in 1902 at 45 Cliff Street in New York, NY. By 1904 the business outgrew that facility and, when the lease expired, all operation was relocated to Norwalk, Connecticut at 22 Knight Street, where part of the factory stands to this day. The company leased factory space there until 1906, at which point it outright bought the entire building. It seems everything was rosy, or was it...
As unoriginal as was the typewriter, so too was its advertising campaign, which included the following stalwart methods: place ads in periodicals, exhibit at a World's Fair, promote perfect alignment in a predictably derivative fashion, export to Europe and undercut the more established brands. The campaign wasn't enough and, after just seven years, the Postal ended production.
The model at the top of this page is the "Horned" No.1. It earned the apt moniker because its top plate has a pair of protrusions resembling horns. Later No.1's were made without protrusions. All of the No.1's were made in New York, NY before the factory relocated to Norwalk, CT where the vast majority of Postals were produced beginning with the No.3 model (some evidence suggests limited production of the No.3 began in New York prior to the relocation). Nos.3, 4, 5 and 6 were produced concurrently until the No.7 was introduced. The No.3 was the base model while the No.5, with its raised scale, was the premium model. It is theorized that even numbered models were designated for export.
The Postal No.7 typewriter was introduced in 1908. It was distinctly different from its predecessors because it was larger and had an enclosed frame. Its counterpart, the No.8, was most likely just nothing more than a No.7 but with foreign characters for export. One old ad dated to 1909 suggests that at least the No.5 was produced concurrently with the No.7 but with the No.5 now being the base lower end model.
In the 7 years that the Postal Typewriter Company was in business it produced about 30,000 typewriters among all its models. Ad evidence suggests that Nos.1 and 2 were produced between 1902 - 1903, Nos.3 and 4 were between 1903 - 1908, No.5 & 6 between 1903 - 1909 and No.7 & 8 between 1908 - 1909.
As a Connecticut resident I especially fond of Postals so please email me if you have one for sale. I'm also interested in go-withs like crates, instruction manuals, ephemera, etc... Please email me at Antikey.Chop@gmail.com