The Underwood 1 Standard Typewriter, ca. 1900 (11 views) M60 Home     Underwood Gallery

In this frontal view, the Underwood 1's simplicity shows in the overall straightforward layout of the typewriter. A large paper tray with Underwood in large, stencilled gold letters highlighted by two pencil thin lines of gold and copper striping (the only striping anywhere on the machine), two platen twirlers, the line-feed and carriage return arm on the left, two spring-loaded pressure rollers, and an index with position-indicating pointer manage paper handling. Left and right margin settings are managed by adjustable stops which slide on a bar across the front of the typewriter, in front of the index. These are moved by pushing the small, round and pointed levers to the left and sliding the stops. An arm actuated by a button on the front of the typewriter next to the left shift key lever releases the carriage to allow typing beyond the stops.The keys are bright rimmed with black lettering on a white background, and a long, wide space bar completes the keyboard layout. The serial number, 10249, is located atop the frame member just below and to the front of the right hand platen twirler.

Designed by Franz Wagner and manufactured from 1897 until 1900, the Underwood No. 1 was a revolutionary typewriter, but not the first front strike machine. The Daugherty {also in the museum collection) pre-dated it in 1893, but it was not able to produce the quality work of the Underwood, nor the ease and speed of typing, nor the durability. It was the Underwood that was the first commercially successful front strike typewriter, designed and built to work well for years. Its arrival at market sounded the death knell of the double keyboard, the up-striking typebars, and most of the diversity of design in the typewriter industry. This typewriter is serial number 10249, near the end of No. 1 production.

1897 also was notable for Wilhelm Roentgen's discovery of x-rays, Mormon abandonment of polygamy, Fanny Farmer's first cook book and the introduction of the Tootsie Roll, Marines landed in Nicaragua, the Alaska Gold Rush began as did, in Greece, the first modern Olympic Games. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Plessy v. Ferguson, firmly establishing race segregation through the "separate but equal" doctrine. Theodor Hertzel, considered to have been the father of modern political Zionism and in effect the founder of the State of Israel, publishes "The Jewish State". The last Czar of Russia, Nicholas II, was crowned and more than 1000 died in a coronation disaster. Of particular interest, Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius quantified carbon dioxide's role in warming the Earth.

This view of the right side from slightly above shows the frame lip along the bottom and the outward curve of the top front frame, both unique characteristics of the Underwood 1. There is a finger pull that is part of the carriage casting, useful for pulling the carriage to the right. The platen and carriage adjusting and placement bits can be clearly seen. The large ribbon winding wheel with its five spokes and handle is mounted vertically and parallel with the sides of the frame. A lever locks and unlocks the spool to control the direction the ribbon travels. In this photo taken from the left rear corner shows the springs that assist in carriage movement, placement of the two rear margin tabs, and the shift mechanism. The upper frame corners have a lovely support cast in that is a distinctly Victorian touch.
From the rear and slightly above, the back of the carriage is seen with its component parts and carriage rails. The open frame reveals the typebars and makes access somewhat easy. To the right at the back is the large, easily accessible drawband spool and the escapement mechanism. The drawband attaches to a flat casting which in turn attaches to the frame. Here we have a view of the left side of the Underwood 1, taken from slightly above so as also to show the ribbon spools in place, and the 3-position line spacing selector at the rear of the carriage left of the paper tray. Below is the large bell and the other ribbon winding wheel.
This is a close-up photo of the right side of the typewriter, described more fully above. This is a close-up photo of the left side of the typewriter, described more fully above.
This photo of the left side of the typewriter shows its attractive yet simple design, with the keyboard frame and its supporting buttress, the large open window exposing the inner works, the columnar design of each corner of the typewriter, the thin skirting around the bottom of the frame, and the curved top front of the frame. At the bottom right of the rear of the typewriter is stenciled The Wagner Typewriter Company New York. On the left is another stencil, Sept. 23, 1890 and below it, May 12, 1890.
This photo shows the clean and simple underside of the No. 1. The last photo is of the type basket, showing the arrangement of the typebars and the segment.
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