TypewriterA richly illustrated book full of never-before published typewriter memorabilia, intriguing historical documents and entertaining anecdotes, The Typewriter: a Graphic History of the Beloved Machine is a beautiful ode to an all-but-obsolete creative companion. The book is an oversized, 336-page, beautifully bound and curated publication with a hard cover, a beautiful dark linen cover wrap, a two-toned headband and the title stamped in gold foil on the spine. Financed by a large crowd-funding campaign, is filled with images of typewriter advertising, greeting cards, photos from popular culture and typed letters.

The book begins with a short history about the introduction of the “type-writer” and the person credited as the father of the typewriter, Christopher Latham Sholes, who patented the first commercially successful model in 1868. It sat on a small table and had a foot treadle like a sewing machine. Seen as relieving people from the tyranny of the pen, its invention was as important in its day as the invention of the stream engine or printing press.

It is organized in decades, from the 1900s to the 1980s (when IBM introduced a personal computer, the Apple Macintosh appeared and, by 1990, IBM ceased making typewriters as did many other manufacturers). The text and images reflect changes in society and, in particular, the way the ads and other memorabilia reflect gradually changing attitudes towards women.

The Typewriter: a Graphic History of the Beloved Machine from uppercasemag on Vimeo.

Excerpt from the book:

The development of the typewriter aligns with creative industries such as industrial design, commercial art and advertising becoming mainstream, and a study of the graphics associated with the typewriter also offers a snapshot into trends in design and fashion. Documenting the ephemera and advertising of typewriting allows for an informative and beautiful history of design over the past 150 years.

Most of the print and paper artifacts reproduced in this book are from my own collection of ephemera. And as with any personal collection, the objects give some insight into the person doing the gathering.

As a graphic designer, I’m particularly interested in items that have typographic and graphical interest, that mark a particular time period with a recognizable style and that have creative merit through design elements such as colour, photography and layout.

As a publisher, I’m interested in the content of old advertising and how the copywriting — with its changing voice and tone — tells stories not only about a machine, but about us as a society.

As a woman, I recognize the advancements that women have achieved since the 19th century. We’ve come a long way in surmounting the rampant sexism that hindered women (and men) for so long.

Since its slow but certain end from the 1980s until now, the typewriter has been elevated to iconic status. Now experiencing a resurgence of appreciation (tinged with nostalgia) the typewriter is coveted once again: this time as a symbol of simpler times.


About the Author:

Janice Vangool is the Calgary-based publisher, editor and designer of UPPERCASE, a quarterly magazine dedicated to design, typography, illustration and and craft. She’s also a typewriter fanatic. For years as a child in Saskatoon, she’d ask Santa for a typewriter, without luck. Later, when she visited the office where her mother worked as an executive secretary, she would spend all her time typing on an IBM Selectric. She founded UPPERCASE in 2009 and today, in her studio, she has on display five Royal Quiet Deluxe portables (circa mid 50s) in pink, torquoise, red, teal and gray, a beautiful framed print of a 1947 Hermes typewriter (by legendary Swiss poster designer Herbert Leupin) and assorted other typewriter memorabilia.

See more about and purchase the book at: www.uppercasetypewriter.com