‘The McLoughlin Brother’s Typewriter’ – An illustrated article about the McLoughlin Typewriter.
Little information is known about the McLoughlin Brother’s Typewriter. It appeared on the market in 1884 for $10 and was intended for both children and adults. Therefore the McLoughlin Brother’s Typewriter has the distinction of being the first typewriter marketed for children; however, it is built solidly from cast iron and machined parts making it a contemporary to the other index typewriters that had appeared at this early date. Over the next fifteen years, many different well built index typewriters would come to market.
To type, the handle is rotated to select a character. Then the handle is depressed, causing the whole spring loaded carriage assembly to sink down, bringing the type-wheel (shown below) into contact with the paper. Inking is accomplished with two felt rollers.
Here is a colorful description to use the McLoughlin Brother’s Typewriter from its manual. “The method of printing is so simple that a child can operate it with-out instruction, as the movement is similar to the hand organ, as you simply turn the crank and grind out the words by the yard if necessary.”
The McLoughlin Bro’s. Inc. began business in 1828 and were a New York publishing firm that pioneered the systematic use of color printing technologies in children’s books, particularly between 1858 and 1920. By 1886 the firm published a wide range of items including cheap chapbooks (pocket size books), large folio picture books, linen books, puzzles, games and paper dolls. In 1920, McLoughlin Bro’s. ceased game production when this division was sold to Milton Bradley but continued to publish picture books and a successful line of mechanical paper dolls called ‘Jolly Jump-Ups’ until 1951.
The McLoughlin Brothers are considered the foremost American children’s book and game makers of the late 19th century. However their little typewriter likely did not sell very well, as there are few surviving examples today.
The informative full page advertisement (first ad shown below) is from the McLoughlin Brothers’ 1886 general catalogue. The richly illustrated cover and illustration of the McLoughlin Brothers’ factory are also from this catalogue.
“Although especially designed for young people, its practical perfection as a machine, its low price, simplicity and thorough reliability in the work it turns out, make it desirable alike to professional men, clergymen, business men, etc.”
“The Type Writer has become a necessity in every office and household, and every man, woman and child needs one either for business or pleasure, as much as the almost universal jack-knife.”
“There is a charm in its operation, not unlike that of a favorite game.”