Caligraph No. 2 Writing Machine
Photos by C. Stover, 2016
This c. 1890 Caligraph No. 2 Writing Machine was donated from estate of Leonard and Geraldine (Carr) Reith, who lived on 18238 North Territorial, Chelsea, MI. Leonard Reith purchased the property in 1934. Geraldine Carr worked at the Federal Screw Works in Chelsea when she met Leonard Reith. It is thought that this “typewriter” might have originally come from the Federal Screw Works.
The Caligraphs were produced beginning in 1881, designed by the same man who later produced the Yost typewriter. It was made by the American Writing Machine Company in Hartford, CT. Like its predecessor, the Remington, the Caligraph is a ‘blind writer’, where the type-bars strike the underside of the platen. You cannot see what you have typed until the page has advanced a few lines or you lift up the hinged carriage and look at the underside of the platen.
The Caligraph 2 was the first typewriter to be produced with this unique “double keyboard”. It did not have a shift key so the black keys were for uppercase characters and white keys for lowercase. The lower case keys, numbers, and symbols are located in the center of the keyboard; the upper case keys are on the left and right sides. In front of the keys is a sloping shelf; inside this part of the machine are levers that transmit the movement of the keys to the type bars. The sloping shelf design was dropped when the company began marketing the New Century Caligraph in 1898.
To learn more, read this Scientific American, March 6 1886 article.
The Chelsea Historical Museum plans on exhibiting this rare writing machine in its newly renovated “Timeline Room”, due to be completed by the end of July.