Bar-Lock 4 Typewriter

Columbia Typewriter Co., New York, 1895 – serial no.13133


Photograph of the Bar-Lock 4 typewriter.The gorgeous Bar-Lock 4 is defined by its prominent Baroque-styled pressed copper shield which is positioned in front of the type bars.

The Bar-Lock was invented by Charles Spiro, one of the great typewriter pioneers, who had apprenticed in his father’s New York watchmakers shop. He had previously invented the Columbia index typewriter (Model 1 and 2 can be seen in this collection).

On the Bar-Lock the type bars swing down to the top of the platen so that the words are visible as they are typed, provided the typist sat up straight enough to see over the copper shield. (See detail below)

Just before the type bars strike the platen, they encounter a small semi-circle of metal pins that ensure alignment. Supposedly these pins also reduce the clashing of the type bars, but they seem to have little if any effect on either matter. Non-the-less this typewriter gets its name from these alignment pins and their function as a ‘bar lock’ for the type bars.

This typewriter originally sold for $100.

“The Advantages of Visible Writing – Writing in Sight – in other words simply means knowing what you are doing and being able to do it expeditiously.”

“Using the Columbia Bar-Lock is like using smokeless powder – you can see what you are doing.”