So, this weekend I made a few more updates to the TWDB. This time, rather than be inspired into a research frenzy by an uploaded rarity, it was a basically a diceroll that decided what rabbit hole I was going to go down. I had just written my last blog post on Friday evening and said to myself:
“Hey self, let’s open up this 1922 compendium of Typewriter Topics and find a nice looking ad to steal a thumbnail from. That’ll be the page we do.”
So I open it up and the first nice ad I see is for a Victor No. 10. Good choice! The TWDB’s Victor serial number page had a small bit of info that had been gleaned from a 2009 article by Will Davis and hadn’t been updated since. Luckily, in the interim, Mr. Davis and Robert Messenger had batted the topic around and by last year, Mr. Davis had published the latest of his research in his new blog. All the heavy lifting was already done, and I just needed to summarize a nice timeline for what happened when.
Victor page down:
But if one really digs into a brand, you find running along the foundation, a chain of connections. If you really want to know the story of the manufacturer – the trials they overcame, the clever and boneheaded decisions they made, their Genesis and dying throes – then you have to grab hold of that chain and follow it back and forth. Thus, building the Victor page inevitably led me to split the Victor Portable off onto it’s own page. That machine is a different design, different company – just the name persevered, but it was the end of the line:
Having abruptly reached the end of the chain, I reversed direction and went to work on Franklin, where I again ran into the 1980’s research by Richard Dickerson on the brand that practically laid out a serial number timeline. Seriously, all I had to do is plot the points on his production graph to arrive at the serial number ranges for each year, which happen to delightfully agree with the general timeline supported by other sources, fragmentary as it was. I’m starting to have a bit of a mancrush on Mr. Dickerson’s brain. Previously the TWDB had nothing on Franklin. Now there’s this:
Having done Franklin, all that was left was to pick up the thread at the beginning, The Victor Index. Previously there was nothing. Now it’s something, anyway. :D
It’s interesting to note that the lifetime of the Tilton Manufacturing Company and the products it made (invariably designed by engineers for hire) show a certain nimbleness to rapidly changing times and technology. One notes that they started with an Index typewriter (historically, the first daisywheel ever, and yes, they at least designed an electric daisywheel), moved to a curved-keyboard downstroke 3-bank, then a standard 4-bank frontstroke and finally lent the name to a completely modern portable. Their product line spanned a surprisingly wide swath of the main technologies of industrial age typewriter design, and it all happened before the Roaring 20’s really got into swing. Good deals, bad deals, lucky breaks and heartbreak, the story is there and the chain laid bare from beginning to end. Enjoy! (: