Waverley Typewriter

The Waverley Typewriter Company, London, England, 1895 – serial no. 3H

Photograph of the Waverley typewriter.

‘The Waverley Typewriter’ – An illustrated article

The handsome and beautifully engineered Waverley typewriter, despite the great efforts of its inventors Higgins and Jenkins (see portrait below of Henry Charles Jenkins), was on the market for only a short time, from 1895 to 1897, with the company in receivership by July of 1897. Higgins and Jenkins had begun work on the Waverley in 1889 as conveyed in this sentence from Jenkins’ application to The Institution of Civil Engineers (1891), “.. and in 1889 he [Jenkins] left to superintend development of and design plant for manufacturing of patented machinery; now in progress at 34 Baldwin Gardens W.C. under name of Higgins snd Jenkins.”

The distinguishing aspect of the Waverley’s design is the position of the vertical type bars positioned behind the platen, that swing down toward the typist to strike the top of the platen. This was to achieve visible typing, where one could see what had just been typed. This design gave visible writing but with the escape for the paper blocked by the type bars, the carriage design became quite complicated. To get a sheet of paper ready for typing, the bottom edge is pushed back a few inches on the three prongs, under the hoops, in front of the carriage (see image below). As one types, the paper goes up, over, and around the platen and curls up within the hoops. The paper is then pulled out sideways when the page has fully advanced.

The Waverley has some other special features, notably a shifting system that uses a complete set of type bars for lowercase characters and another set of type bars for uppercase. Normally character shifting is achieved by having two characters on a single type bar with either the carriage or type basket shifting. When selecting the shift key on the Waverley, the complete lower case set of type bars is disengaged and the uppercase set of type bars engages.

The Waverley, as seen with some other early typewriters, has proportional spacing. Its proportional spacing however is only for the widest letters, M and W, with the carriage moving a bit further to allow for the extra width of these characters.

The Waverley has the seemingly clever feature of allowing one to simultaneously push the spacebar when typing the last letter of a word, so one is immediately ready to type the next word. It is hard to say though how much time is actually saved with this innovation.

There is a second, small and round, space key that moves the carriage the width of a standard character, with the wide space bar, in front of the keyboard, moving the carriage twice the distance to separate words.

“An English made Typewriter for Englishmen.”

“The old-fashioned machines made light of VISIBLE WRITING, saying it is of no importance. Do not be misled, watch any of their operators and note the time occupied in lifting the paper carriage to inspect the work”