The Martin Howard Collection seen at the Oscars

The Academy Awards

The Graphics Producer for the Academy Awards had seen an image of my illuminated typewriter display and wondered if I would be interested in helping them create this effect. Well the answer was yes!

Once the best angle of viewing was established, I shot thirty typewriters from a shelf in my display case. They placed the typewriter images on a graphic pedestal and used the wainscotting background within a modified display case. The outcome was better than I had imagined, with the typewriters just popping with light and colour from their large screens.

Vanity Fair – Kara Warner

“We really tried to infuse the set with elements that celebrated some particular crafts. Not all, but as many as we could,” says Kapoor (Producer) “Hopefully the audience at home and in the room will feel like it is a wow moment. We’ve spent a lot of time crafting those moments, from photographing somebody who has one of the best vintage typewriter collections in Canada, to working with the actual costume designers on the nominated films and photographing their costumes in a gallery-like setting with beautiful lighting.”

Key to Type: Exhibition

George Brown College

The School of Design at George Brown College is proud to present Key to Type, an exhibition exploring the history and development of the contemporary keyboard which draws upon selections from the Martin Howard and Buxton-Microsoft collections, curated by Martin Howard and Bill Buxton.

The exhibition showcases 40 vintage and antique objects from the 1880s through to the 1990s, each representing a significant innovation in the development of the keyboard. The exhibition layers in further opportunities for exploration with demonstration videos by the collectors and background materials about the objects via an AR (augmented reality) experience.

“I want to send you a profound thank you for the collaboration with us with the Key to Type exhibition that helped launch the School of Design’s new building and which exposed so many students and people in the city to the exciting objects in your collection but more importantly to the knowledge and ideas embodied in them.” – Luigi Ferrara, Dean, Centre for Arts and Design, George Brown College

INNOVATION IN ITS TIME: The World’s First Typewriters


INNOVATION IN ITS TIME | The World’s First Typewriters, offers a fresh look at one of modern history’s greatest inventions, the typewriter. The exhibition spotlights twenty-four typewriters from Toronto based collector, Martin Howard, and allows for a close up look at some of remarkable designs of the world’s first typewriters.

There is also a typing table set up for visitors to sit down and try, perhaps for the first time, some 20th century portable typewriters.

The Elora Antique Show

“Antique typewriter collector Martin Howard brings a display of 19th century typewriters to the 2019 show. Martin has built the most important collection of its kind in Canada, which shows the remarkable ingenuity and beauty of the world’s first typewriters. Typewriters from his collection have been seen at the Royal Ontario Museum and he and his collection were featured in the critically acclaimed documentary ‘California Typewriter’.”

“You were a great addition to the show experience for many visitors.  Thank you for doing such a wonderful job.” –  Jeff and Wendy Gadsden, Gadsden Promotions Ltd.

Keyed up, switched on, logged in

MZTV Museum of Television

MZTV Museum presents, Keyed Up, Switched On, Logged In
“The story of the birth of modern communication through the union of two of the most powerful inventions in history.”

I approached Moses Znaimer, the legendary media mogul, who has the largest private collection of pre- World War II televisions in the world, about doing a joint exhibit that would bring together early typewriters and televisions to celebrate how these two major inventions came together to contribute to another major invention, the personal computer. He liked the idea and the exhibit ‘Keyed Up, Switched On, Logged In’ was created.

Exceptional Examples of
the World’s First Typewriters

Consumer Electronic Show

Show Media, the parent company of TYPO Products, the maker of the TYPO2 keyboard for the iPhone, invited me to display and present 25 of my typewriters at their booth at the 2015 Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas.

Antique typewriters were certainly the last thing that people expected to see amongst all the gadgetry and high tech communication devices but people reacted with such joy and excitement upon seeing some of the world’s first typing machines. It was an exhilarating time for me.

“Martin Howard has 100 cylinders, he spoke to every single person with just as much passion no matter who they were. His collection was the star of the show, truly something people appreciate and enjoyed.” – Laurence Hallier, CEO Show Media

2010 Season: age of arousal

Shaw Festival

I had the pleasure of advising the director of ‘Age of Arousal’ as to which period typewriters to use for the play. I procured and restored the four 1880s Remington typewriters used in the production. In addition – “Four typewriters from the Martin Howard Collection will be displayed in the lobby of the Shaw Festival Theatre during the run of Age of Arousal by Linda Griffiths. These typewriters are primary examples of the typewriters that were used by the first professional typists in the mid 1880s and reflect the period and setting of the play.”

“It’s 1885 in Age of Arousal, and in London there are half a million more women than men. Mary, an ex-suffragette, has opened a secretarial school for women to teach liberation through typing. When three sisters sign up, unexpected passions and secret desires are unleashed as they each learn what being a New Woman can truly mean.” – Shaw Festival

“Type, damm you. Type! It’s the way to liberty!” – Age of Arousal

Keys to the Kingdom:
The Early Typewriters Exhibit at IFOA

International Festival of Authors

The International Festival of Authors (IFOA) at Harbourfront in Toronto brings together the best writers of contemporary world literature for 11 days of readings, interviews, lectures, round table discussions, and public book signings.

“Calling all Gadgetgeeks! Very early days of keyboards: 
It’s like the Burgess Shale of Typewriters! Incredible!” – Margaret Atwood’s tweet about the Martin Howard Collection

“I was delighted to learn of Martin’s extensive and diverse typewriter collection. We are even more delighted to be able to showcase a portion of his holdings at the International Festival of Authors” – Geoffrey E. Taylor, Director of the IFOA

Early Typewriters:
Gateway to the Information Age

Toronto Pearson Airport

“Can you imagine typing without being able to see the paper? Or typing one character at a time by sliding a bar back and forth? Early Typewriters: Gateway to the Information Age presents the early history of typewriters. Over 40 machines from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century are featured in this exhibition.” 

“This exhibition not only shows important early means of communication but also reveals the passion of one collector. All of the machines are from the collection of Martin Howard. He became hooked on early typewriters in 1989 after spotting an early 1880s machine in a junk shop. Since then, he has amassed the most important collection of its kind in Canada.” – Lee Petrie, curator

This exhibition was originally organized by the Royal Ontario Museum in conjunction with Martin Howard. It was modified by Martin Howard for exhibition at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

Early Typewriters:
Gateway to the information age

Royal Ontario Museum

Early Typewriters – Gateway to the Information Age enjoyed an extended run at the ROM with full page coverage in Canada’s national papers. William Thorsell, former Director and CEO of the ROM, conveyed the relevance of The Martin Howard collection as follows.

“The Royal Ontario Museum became aware of the private collection of early typewriters owned by Martin Howard of Toronto, in 2006. Visiting the collection, we realized that this compilation of early writing machines was extensive, authoritative and beautifully cared for.”

“The collection illustrates mankind’s search for a solution to a challenge, the intriguing avenues explored, the beautiful means by which they were expressed and the technical proficiency of the age.”

ROM Podcast

Ink to Internet

Markham Museum

‘The Markham Museum offers a unique family and educational experience featuring over 20 historic buildings on 25 acres of parkland. The Museum represents the main themes of settlement as it relates to the environment, and the technologies used to adapt to life.’

(The poster image is courtesy of The Peter Weil Typewriter Archive)