So, I was poking around on local Craigslist this morning, and although I don’t even remotely have an interest in collecting old adding machines, I will sometimes take a peek. Adding machines, and to a certain extent, Spirit Duplicators are like the ugly cousins of typewriters. Originally, the three were usually sold at the same stores, as they are all common office machines of the era, but they attract very few collectors, even among those of us fascinated with Typewriters.
That said, there are some awfully attractive and interesting adding machines out there – many were designed in art-deco patterns that can occasionally be prettier than the most attractive typing machine. One of these was the Marchant Figuremaster of the 1940s, and I only know this because I happened upon an operating manual for one some years ago and kept it in my collection just because the pictures are so pretty.
Anyway, as I said, poking around Craigslist, I see a listing for a bunch of adding machines and I click on it to see a Figuremaster that I instantly recognized from the brochure I had picked up many years ago, recognized despite the seller’s example being covered completely in grey dust to the point where you could only see the shape of the thing:
No, I’m not about to go drop $20 on a probably non-functional adding machine that the instructions indicate is far too complex for me to ever figure out how to use, but someday, if I find one in pristine condition? Maybe, yeah. It would look pretty good sitting on a nice oak roll-top desk with an old bakelite phone and an art-deco-ish Remington Typewriter, wouldn’t it?
Us typewriter collectors usually only think of Marchant as a company that got gobbled up by Smith-Corona (Marchant is the “M” in “SCM”) in the late 50’s, but honestly, they made some really nice-looking, if horrifically complex adding machines during their heyday, no?
Update: Ha! I’m wrong – adding machine collectors appear to be quite organized, and there’s even a serial number page for Marchant Calculators. Shows ya what I know. :D