Albany man’s collection sparked by family links to typewriter history

Albany man’s collection sparked by family links to typewriter history

Rob Blickensderfer of Albany began amassing typewriters for a easy cause: “My name is Blickensderfer,” he defined to an viewers on the Albany Regional Museum’s History Bites lecture collection earlier this month.

The Blickensderfer Typewriter Company pushed the evolution of machines, introducing new applied sciences and ideas.

George Blickensderfer, the inventor who created the agency, had no descendants, however he was the great-grandson of Rob Blickensderfer. As such, Blickensderfer stated it’s the closest relative to typewriter royalty.

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Rob Blickensderfer holds the oldest Blickensderfer typewriter in his collection, an modern mannequin that was demonstrated on the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.

Andy Cripe, Mid-Valley Media

The distant however vibrant family connection led him to amass the most important collection of varied Blickensderfer typewriters on the earth, with some 45 varieties and 50 in whole. He is the co-author of a ebook, The Five-Kilo Secretary: An Illustrated History of the Blickensderfer Typewriter.

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“There are many collectors in the world, but there are only a few typewriter collectors,” Blickensderfer stated. He estimated there have been 200 or so in North America and Europe, and he has traveled to meet with them at conventions and elsewhere.

Growing up, Blickensderfer realized that there was a typewriter firm that shared his final identify. His first Blickensderfer typewriter got here as a present from his father some 50 years in the past. Then he began on the lookout for them in vintage retailers and newspaper advertisements.

Things bought simpler with the start of the Internet, which was a boon to typewriter lovers and different collectors, Blickensderfer stated. He’s been looking eBay each day for many years.

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Rob Blickensderfer shared particulars about his typewriter collection and his family’s history in growing modern typewriters throughout a latest speak on the Albany Regional Museum.

Andy Cripe, Mid-Valley Media

Along the way in which, Blickensderfer realized extra concerning the history of workplace gear, in addition to the rarity and worth of a few of the machines. He realized that other than the early Remingtons, the corporate’s machines had been so mass-produced, “the only thing they were good for was a boat anchor.”

During the History Bites lecture, Blickensderfer outlined the history of the typewriter. The first working American typewriter, the Sholes and Glidden typewriter, was launched about 120 years in the past, he stated, and the comparatively random keyboard format stays in use at this time.

Typewriters of these early days sat on a stand comparable to stitching machines, and people who have survived may be price $20,000 to $30,000 at this time, he stated.

Due to patents, completely different typewriter designs proliferated and there was a scarcity of standardization from the beginning. For instance, some fashions had separate keyboards for higher and decrease case letters.

As an inventor, George Blickensderfer was prolific, having invented, amongst different issues, the revolving door, a belt machine gun utilized in France in World War I, and a sort of candle.

He created the primary transportable machine, his mannequin no. 5, exhibiting it on the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 with the assistance of a secretary to show the technological marvel.

Its keyboard format prioritized the fonts most used within the English language, theoretically permitting for quicker typing speeds. The consumer may really see the phrases being typed on the web page, which was a brand new function on the time, as many typewriters “hid” the writing.

George Blickensderfer’s Connecticut manufacturing unit additionally produced the primary aluminum and electrical typewriters, however the latter didn’t promote nicely, as most individuals within the United States didn’t have electrical energy on the time.

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Rob Blickensderfer speaks to the group gathered on the Albany Regional Museum earlier this month. He caused 10 of his vintage typewriters with him.

Andy Cripe, Mid-Valley Media

Rob Blickensderfer used one of many three unique electrical typewriters identified to exist. “I was in Germany and I knew the owner. He had just bought it at an auction for $100,000. He gave it to me and it was much heavier than I thought. And I almost let it go, and I almost passed out,” Blickensderfer stated.

After George Blickensderfer died in 1917, his firm disbanded.

About 35 folks attended the Albany Regional Museum’s History Bites lecture, which featured Blickensderffer.

Before the occasion, Melinda Martin of Albany studied the ten vintage Blickensderfer typewriters introduced to the museum for show.

“I’m very interested in the history of Albany, and while I know Rob, I didn’t know his collection of typewriters was so extensive or so old,” Martin stated. “It’s very, very cool.”

She mocked how younger folks at this time study to keyboard, not kind. When she was rising up, handbook typewriters had been a part of a college’s normal gear.

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Because of patents, the evolution of the typewriter included many uncommon designs that appear unusual at this time, equivalent to this “flying locust” the place kind hammers come from two sides to strike the paper.

Andy Cripe, Mid-Valley Media

Blickensderfer grew up in Ohio and labored for a metal company for 10 years earlier than transferring to Oregon and dealing for the U.S. Bureau of Mines in Albany for 30 years.

The US Air Force veteran, who served through the Korean War, was drawn to Oregon due to the kayaks. Blickensderfer and a buddy based the Willamette Kayaking and Canoe Club, and he has made a variety of first descents on rivers in Oregon, together with the Upper Kalapoia and the North Santiam.

Time is passing and Blickensderfer is now not looking the Internet and used typewriter shops.

Now 93, he has given a number of typewriters, together with one to the Albany Regional Museum. Some shall be given to relations and he’ll promote the remaining.

Getting rid of a collection that took a long time to construct is bittersweet, although Blickensderfer by no means makes use of typewriters.

“I just enjoy collecting,” he stated. “I can’t explain why.”

Kyle Odegard may be reached at 541-812-6077 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter through @KyleOdegard.

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