Robert Morris of Kansas City invented the Morris typewriter. His first version, with a wooden base, appeared in 1885 and had some success in selling a few hundred. In 1886 Mr. Morris sold the manufacturing rights to Hoggson & Pettis Manufacturing Company of New Haven, Conn., upon which improvements were made to its design, including a wonderful metal trellised base, which can be seen on this Morris.
Hoggson & Pettis were well-stablished machinists of the day, making among other things, lathe chucks, cutting dies, leather tools and a check protector. Who better to make the Morris Typewriter? Hoggson started the business in 1849 and it became a company in 1878 when Pettis became a partner. At its height the company hired one hundred skilled workmen in a ‘modern’ factory of sixteen thousand square feet, “splendidly equipped with the latest improved machinery and every facility”. They exported to “every civilized country”.
The Morris is about as strange as typewriters got, including a white rubber platen. The carriage traverses the platen along two metal rods. Within the carriage is a rubber index plate that is moved into position with a wooden knob that the typist depresses to bring the rubber character onto the paper.
The advertisement states that the Morris writes 70 words a minute. However, after typing on this Morris, I would be surprised if 15 words could be achieved. One of the main problems is that the leaf spring that holds up the index assembly is very strong and requires a very hard push down to print. Also one would be slowed down with the metal index pointer being positioned so close to the index plate, as the pointer would scratch and rub against its surface with any attempt at speed.
In the images below there are two photos showing the Hoggson & Pettis Factory. The first is dated 1890 and the second, a winter street scene, showing the factory at the end of the street is from 1888.
The Morris originally sold for $15.00.
“Economy is the parent of wealth”
“The low price of “The Morris”, places it within reach of Postmasters, Physicians, Druggists, Lawyers, Teachers and Merchants, who have any amount of correspondence, or pen work of any kind.”