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The Oliver Typewriter The Oliver Typewriter

Linotype Co. / Canadian Olivers

Canadian Oliver No. 2
Canadian Oliver No. 2
Serial Number 1232 | Made around 1897

Gabriel Burbano
Canadian Oliver No. 3
Canadian Oliver No. 3
Serial Number 2422

Tyler Menard

The Linotype Company of Montreal, Canada manufactured some Oliver Nos. 2 and 3 for sale in Canada and South America. (The Linotype Company also manufactured the Woodstock typewriter, an Oliver No. 2 variant.) The Linotype company also referred to themselves as the Canadian Oliver Typewriter Company. Robert Messenger has a great article about the Canadian Olivers on ozTypewriter.

There are several features that could identify a Canadian Oliver from afar. Some machines have the ribbon spools mounted vertically instead of horizontally. The Canadian Oliver No. 3 has different side panels with "Oliver" displayed with bold letters. The Canadian No. 3 paper tables display "The Canadian Oliver Typewriter - Montreal".

The Canadian Olivers have their own serial number scheme. It is unknown how many were made or where the serial numbers begin. Only one Canadian Oliver No. 2 machine is known to exist and only four Canadian Oliver No. 3 machines are known to exist.

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SERIAL NO.
DATE
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CANADIAN NO. 2 INTRODUCED
1896-1897?
ONLY KNOWN CANADIAN NO. 2
1232
1896-1897?
CANADIAN NO. 3 INTRODUCED
1901
EARLIEST KNOWN CANADIAN NO. 3
1946
LATEST KNOWN CANADIAN NO. 3
2536

Woodstock Woodstock Woodstock Woodstock Woodstock Woodstock Woodstock Woodstock
Serial Number 1009 | Made in 1898

At first glance, it appears to be an Oliver No. 2. But you notice the odd side handles, and then you see the paper table's elegant decal- it reads WOODSTOCK. This machine has no correlation to the eponymous machines manufactured by the Woodstock Typewriter Company. This Woodstock was manufactured in 1898 by the Linotype Company of Montreal, Canada for the Oliver Typewriter Company. The Linotype Company also manufactured the Canadian Oliver Nos. 2 and 3.

The Woodstock was discussed at meetings concerning the Detroit Board of Education's purchase of typewriters for high schools. This group of meetings, known as the Battle of Detroit, lasted from September 1898 to January 1899. A pamphlet published by the Linotype Company of Montreal, Canada covers these meetings in great detail. According to the pamphlet, a certain Inspector Marr, presumably a member of the Board of Education, showed the committee formed to purchase typewriters an advertisement for the Woodstock in the Fall-Winter 1898-1899 Montgomery Ward Catalogue No. 64 (page 245), apparently in order to question the fairness of the price at which Oliver typewriters had been offered to the Board. W. A. Waterbury, the manager of the Oliver Typewriter Company, explained that the Woodstock was "an unguaranteed, cheap machine of which nineteen were all that were ever made". Waterbury stated, "We have a circular now in print for circulation offering $5,000 for twenty Woodstock typewriters", reinforcing the fact only nineteen were manufactured. He also stated that the Woodstock was manufactured strictly for sale to large department stores, and all nineteen machines were sold to Montgomery Ward and Company, of Chicago. They contracted for the second grade machines which were not to be sold for under $60. The Oliver Typewriter Company stopped manufacture of the Woodstock typewriter after it had been on the market for less than ten months. It is unknown how many machines Montgomery Ward sold.

No machines were known to have survived until a Woodstock with a serial number of 1009, presumably the ninth machine produced, was listed on eBay. I was so astounded that such a rare machine existed that I had to bid on it, and I won!

After conversing with Bobbie, the eBay seller, I learned that this machine made its way into a house owned by a self-proclaimed hoarder named Jim H. near Lancaster, California. She claims Jim does not know where he acquired most of his things, but he would shop at places such as flea markets, Goodwill, and auctions. The Woodstock came out of a house Jim owned for thirty years and never lived in; he used it just for storage. When Bobbie bought the machine, she placed it in her storage with initial intentions of selling it at her booth in an antique shop for $40! However, she researched the machine first, and after finding no information on this Woodstock, she listed it on eBay, figuring it would bring a couple hundred dollars.

Anyway, the machine arrived safe and sound. After examining the machine in detail, I have concluded that the Woodstock is mechanically identical to early Oliver No. 2 machines.A The major difference between the Woodstock and the Oliver No. 2, aside from the Woodstock branding, is the base. The Woodstock base has altered side handles and, rather than curving inward, the back of the base mirrors the curves made by the front of the base. The base is currently painted black, although it shows runs and has been touched up in a few places. Even the type guards have been painted black, some of which has chipped off, revealing a dark yellow color. The raised parts of the side panels are nickel-plated, while the backgrounds are black.

In my opinion, the Woodstock does not appear to be a second grade machine as W.A. Waterbury had described. I am hard-pressed to find a reason to render the Woodstock a cheaper Oliver No. 2 counterpart. The advertisement in the catalogue even stated that the Woodstock was “complete in a highly finished metal case with handle”. Unfortunately, such a case has yet to resurface. One can only hope a Woodstock in the original case may one day be discovered.

A. There are several iterations of the Oliver No. 2. The earliest iteration has round holes in the ribbon spool covers, the "Open O" logo on the side panels, a cutout of the base under the keyboard, a plastic key comb, curved metal springs for the spacing mechanism, a pivoting bearing for the shifting mechanism, and thinner key mounts. This iteration shows the 1894, 1895, and 1896 patent dates. I believe The "Open O" logo was introduced when the 1898 patent date was added. This is the iteration to which the Woodstock is most related. Later, the 1891 patent was listed on the machines. When this occurred, the second to last iteration of Oliver No. 2 was introduced. This style was given later style ribbon spool covers with elongated holes, a solid base under the keyboard, a metal key comb, coil springs for the spacing mechanism (including other minor mechanical differences), a simpler wheel bearing for the shifting mechanism, and wider key mounts. The last iteration adds a model number on the paper table.

Fall-Winter 1898-1899 Catalogue; Montgomery Ward Records, Box 64, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Woodstock Ad

From ETCetera No. 29 (p. 3): The First Woodstock, by Alexander "Sandy" Sellers
ETC 29-3

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SERIAL NO.
DATE
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WOODSTOCK INTRODUCED
1001
1898
ONLY KNOWN WOODSTOCK
1009
1898
LAST WOODSTOCK PRODUCED
1019
1898

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Sources
  1. Dingwerth, L. (2008). Kleines Lexikon Historischer Schreibmaschinen. Delbrück, Germany: Verlag Kunstgrafik Dingwerth GmbH.

  2. Sellers, A. (1994, December). The First Woodstock. ETCetera No. 29, 3.

  3. The Linotype Company. (1899, May). Battle of Detroit: An Impartial Account of the Fierce War Waged in the Board of Education By the Typewriter Trust Against the Oliver Typewriter, in the Year 1899. Montreal, Canada.

  4. Liste der Herstellungsdaten Gangbarer Schreibmaschinen, published by Wochenschrift für Papier, Otto Hoffmann. 1941, Verlag, Berlin.

  5. Liste der Herstellungsdaten Deutscher und Ausländischer Schreibmaschinen, 10 Auflage. 1955, Burghagen Verlag, Hamburg.

  6. Liste der Herstellungsdaten Deutscher und Ausländischer Schreibmaschinen mit Wichtigen Technischen Daten. Herbert F. W. Schramm. 11 Auflage, 1962, Burghagen Verlag, Hamburg.