A list of popular physical and virtual typewriter museums
While using keyboards, we are rarely conscious of the fact that their origin lies in typewriters, invented back in the nineteenth century. Though having long given their place to computers, typewriters still attract and fascinate thousands of people. Our strive to preserve and collect these machines is natural; apart from marking a number of important scientific achievements, typewriters also reflect social changes and various tastes in design across time and different countries worldwide.
If you have a passion for antique devices, consider this list of physical and virtual typewriter museums not to miss your chance to visit them.
1. Typewriter Museum Peter Mitterhofer
The first museum on our list is dedicated to the inventor of typing machine, an Italian carpenter Peter Mitterhofer. Generous donation of Kurt Ryba in 1993 made the construction of the museum possible. Being an admirer of old-fashioned devices, Ryba initiated a continuous worldwide search for typing machines, and this rich exhibition is the result of his passionate quests.
The museum boasts of 2000 exhibits from 1864 to 1980 and gives a holistic understanding of the 150-year history of typewriter machines. Meet the most remarkable displays: the legendary cipher machine Enigma, with the help of which the Second World War was shortened for two years; the American Sholes & Glidden (1874), indicating the worldwide circulation of typewriters; and the Olivetti Valentine, adored due to its particular design.
The rich archive of the museum includes literature on the history of typewriters, as well as patent letters, textbooks, historical postcards, photographs and various advertising materials.
2. The Liverpool Typewriter Museum
This small museum was founded by an enthusiast Les Holmes who knew little about typewriters before taking the initiative. It was after retirement that he started repairing typewriters and soon made up his mind to get one example of each typewriter he worked on.
Among 200 typewriter machines, you will come across quite valuable ones. Les’ favorite, however, is a Remington, dating back to approximately 1885 – an exemplar from the beginnings of typewriters. The photos, representing the history of typing machines, make the collection even more interesting. This is how the founder has managed to link old buildings, people who worked in them and machines they used at their workplaces. Les is also proud to present the typewriter which marked the end of typewriter production in the UK.
3. The Chestnut Ridge Typewriter Museum
Let us cross the ocean to visit a US-based typewriter museum in the city of Fairmont, West Virginia. Visiting this museum is worth your time and efforts as it holds a large collection of typewriters, calculators, adding and listing machines which will surprise you with the diversity of design and the number of manufacturers.
The collection includes over 125 German machines, 30 Hammonds, several prototypes, one-of-a-kind machines, as well as typewriter desks and stands. Probably the largest collection of Blicks, is awaiting you in this museum. Blicks were designed by George Blickensderfer in 1892 and became known for their portability and dramatically reducing the complex design of typing machines.
Though visiting physical museums is the best way to really enjoy typewriters, online platforms provide an alternative chance of getting to know the ancestors of modern-day keyboards.
4. The virtual typewriter museum
This virtual museum is based on private collections of antique typewriters from 1870s to 1930 from all over the world. The navigation is easy; you can search and view typewriters by brand name or by chronological order. Relevant links are provided in case you need to find machines by different sorts of keyboards or index numbers.
The virtual typewriter museum holds an extensive collection of historical photographs revealing the peculiarities of typewriter art, advertising postcards, trade cards and much more. In addition, books section will lead you to a list of publications on typewriter history and related topics.
The editorial team of the website took care of translating the most widely used 40 typewriter-related terms to help you read and understand the website content with ease. Go to this page to find translations in 6 languages: Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, French, German, and Dutch.
5. Chuck & Rich’s Antique Typewriter website and museum
The dedicated team of this website has been collecting typewriters since 1996 and has created a collection of 500 machines.
The website will take you to a section of toy typewriters, small machines with colorful graphics designed especially for children. Index, keyboard and special purpose typewriters are also part of the collection. There is an interesting section entitled “When was my typewriter made?” which includes a long list of typewriters and indicates the manufacturing date for each of them. Hopefully, the list will be helpful to find out the manufacturing date of your machine.
6. Martin Howard Collection of Early Typewriters
Another enthusiast, Martin Howard, made continuous efforts to put early typewriters into a collection which is the largest of its kind in Canada. This collection represents historically important and rare typing machines dating back to 1880s and 1890s.
Consider the highlights of the collection: Hall (1881), which was the first portable to come onto the market; Hammonia (1884), first European typewriter, made in Hamburg, Germany; Columbia 1 (1884) one of the few typewriters to use proportional spacing; Victor (1889) – the first typewriter to use a ‘daisy wheel’, which helped to get a faster and higher quality result.
The website also suggests a page where a variety of typewriter-related office items are presented, including sharpeners, staplers, ribbon tins and more.
7. Typewriters 101
Typewriter 101 provides an opportunity to browse for various typewriters, get help with your machine or even purchase the one you want. This virtual museum presents various types of machines: portable, electric, desktop. Some highlights of this museums collection include: German Olympia Robust (1944) which an American soldier brought home from the war; Adler Favorit (1935), Bing No. 2 (1927); Remington (1895) and many more. You will also find ribbons and repair parts, as well as get helpful tips on how to maintain, clean and ship a typewriter.
From the US to Australia, from European countries to Iran, many more typewriter collections and museums are open for visitors. Consider a list of publicly displayed typewriters around the world.
No matter how far technology takes us, our curiosity to explore the past will keep us connected to the intriguing chapter of history when typewriters were invented. Fortunately, professionals and enthusiasts join efforts to create collections of typewriters which is the best and perhaps the only way to walk the coming generations into the world of machines without which it would be difficult to imagine our social and private life as we know it today.