The Namograph was invented by Henry Lasko. He applied for its patent in 1919 which was issued to him in 1920 (patent no.1,354,408). By 1920 these were already being produced though the final product differed quite a bit from the original patent drawings. The company that first produced them was the newly formed Modern Invention Corp. with offices at 291 Broadway in New York amd a factory in Yonkers. The company's offices were relocated to 1123 Broadway sometime in 1921.
1921 - 1922
The Modern Invention Corp.
New York, NY &
Midwestern Tool Co.
When I first started collecting typewriters, one of the first books I bought was Thomas A. Russo's Mechanical Typewriters. Within its covers, on page 162, is where I was first exposed to it: The Namograph. And even though the Namograph was neither 100% mechanical nor a typewriter (it's more of an electric penwriter), I was still fascinated.
Modern Inventions Corp. ran a fairly moderate advertising campaign in support of the Namograph from 1921 to 1922, but then the ads stopped. Personally, I just don't think it was a very successful product and the company was forced to liquidate. I speculate that Modern Inventions sold the remainder of their stock to an outfit in Chicago, the Midwestern Tool Co., which began selling the devise as its own but with little-to-no supporting ad campaign.
There are a couple significant differences between the Namographs that the two companies produced. The most obvious is the heating element which was relocated from directly behind the index to the left of it. Also, earlier Namographs were japanned while the Midwestern versions were finished in matte.
So what does the Namograph do? It can engrave your name into most rubber, plastic or wood pencils, pens, toothbrushes, pipes, etc... Simply select any character from the index and press down on the top lever to impress, then the carriage advances by one increment. The end result is a crude, italic-esque, all-caps impression. Turning on the heating element results in the characters being seared on. Placing gold foil under the characters in conjunction with the heating element yields a gold typeface. The heating element takes about 15 minutes to fully warm up. Actual typing takes about 2 minutes. The entire machine weighs about 7-1/2 pound.
Modern Inventions Corp. was always on the move. Its physical address was different on almost every advertisement. Within the two years that the company was in business its offices at 1123 Broadway moved from room no.40, to no.404, no.405, no.406, no.407 and finally no.481. I may have even missed a few. The company also had a peculiar pricing strategy foe a failing product. During mid-1921 the Namograph's original advertised price was $65, which seems already too high. Then, by mid-1922, the price shot up by more than 50% to a staggering $100. Modern Inventions Corp. offered no other product before, during or after The Namograph.
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