Revisiting the Dayton Typewriter – what we know so far…

I’ve updated the Dayton page at the Typewriter Database now that Typospherian Mark Adams has found the *seventh* known surviving Dayton and uploaded a gallery for it to the database. I’ve added links to all of the current information we have:

Richard Polt’s ETCetera article on the Dayton and his acquisition of Dayton # AX93 “The Onondaga Split-Up

Robert Messenger’s “Day of the Dayton, Typewriter of the Damned (Ohio City)

Mark Adams’ “The Dayton Portable Typewriter

These three very well researched articles pretty much sum up everything currently known about the Dayton, and it turns out to be quite a lot relative to other very obscure typewriters. The Dayton seems to be generating more interest in the collecting community – really as it should. It is a typewriter that is:

1) vanishingly rare. There are only seven eight Nine known to survive.

2) despite its rarity, it’s not worth much. Collectors who’ve mentioned value tend to place it very low. Update: they’re getting a bit pricier now that collectors are seeking them out. I’ve seen at least one go for over a grand – that’s still somewhat unusual, but it’s likely to get more usual.

3) the possibility of new examples being found is high. The Dayton is not a highly desired machine (yet), but it’s not likely that the ones that were made ventured too far from Dayton, OH. The potential search area is fairly limited.

4) it’s actually a pretty well-made machine, despite its economical design. Chances that more have survived undiscovered is good.

These factors seem to me to make it a good candidate for a collector on a budget as a “Holy Grail” machine to look out for, or even actively search for – if they are looking to have a “I have one of the only X known Daytons” sort of machine in their collection, where “X” is likely to stay a single-digit number for awhile.

To sum up the whereabouts and identities of the known surviving Daytons is easy. There are so few that the list is short:

#AX64, in the collection of Thomas Furtig
#AX93, in the collection of Richard Polt
#AX102 (2407-102?) in the collection of Darryl Rehr
#AX112, in the collection of the Milwaukee Public Museum
#AY235, in the collection of Daniel Chia.
#AX288, in the collection of Mark Adams
#AX294, mentioned in newspaper in 1985, may not survive.
#BN330, in the collection of Bill Wahl
#BN366, sighted on eBay Oct 2017, sold for $1,341  (in the collection of Greg Fudacz) (now in the collection of Daniel Chia)
#AX372, in the collection of the Milwaukee Public Museum

These numbers tell us that there were at least 372 Daytons built and sold, and that the serial number prefix might indicate the color of the machine, as Bill Wahl’s BN one is one of the only known black crinkle paint versions to survive. The AX versions are all “Battleship Grey” usually with blue pinstriping. The Milwaukee Museum examples look black in the museums photos, but I suspect that’s an artifact of the high-contrast B&W photos as they are clearly flat-painted and have the pinstriping.

I’m happy that, with the recent addition of Mark Adams’ Dayton, we now have both of the known variations of the Dayton represented in the database galleries. If Richard Polt uploads his, we’ll have almost *half* the known surviving examples represented! The opportunity exists for us to have *all* of the known examples represented, since there are so few.

I revisited #BN330 yesterday down at Bill Wahl’s shop to take better pictures and find out a little more about the machine. I immediately discovered on closer examination that I had the serial number wrong before (It’s not BX530 as I previously reported – it’s BN330), and while the machine is semi-restorable, it’s actually missing an important part of the ratchet mechanism that advances the platen. The platen roller spins freely and doesn’t ratchet. Otherwise, it’s in rough but typeable shape. Here are some better pictures.

dayton-typesample2 IMG_4304 IMG_4308 IMG_4310 IMG_4313 IMG_4317 IMG_4330 IMG_4332 IMG_4333 IMG_4334 IMG_4336 IMG_4337 IMG_4338 IMG_4339 IMG_4341 IMG_4344 IMG_4347 IMG_4367 IMG_4368

I also learned that Bill’s #BN330 came into the shop via a fellow who found it in a locked storage unit in Phoenix that he had bought the contents of at auction. Neither the seller or Bill had any idea of the rarity, so I’d guess the selling price was miniscule, and based pretty much entirely on the machine’s condition. #BN330 may be the farthest travelled Dayton, since Phoenix is quite a ways from Dayton, OH.

So, how about it – who’s going to be the collector that turns up confirmed Dayton #8 #10? It’s up for grabs to the collector who searches hard enough, and probably won’t cost much. If you do find a new one, tell us all about it! Become one of the Few, the Proud, the Dayton Owner’s Club. :D


Updated: July 26, 2019 — 7:58 am


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  1. OK, I was a good typospherian and just uploaded pix of my Dayton.

    I check the Dayton, Ohio craigslist frequently, since the town is just an hour away from me, but no Dayton typewriter has come up yet!

    1. Excellent! Thank you so much (:

  2. Sleuthing makes collecting typewriters all the more interesting. So glad someone was able to document a black Dayton typewriter. Until this discovery, one only read about the two color options in books. I’m betting that this somewhat plain-looking typewriter can be found in many closets, garages and storage facilities. If only more people knew about it.

    What are Bill’s plans for this typewriter?

    1. Well, I know he’s keeping it and going to do a gentle restoration eventually. Since he’s continually backlogged with customer typers, it may be some time before he gets to it, though. I’ve reported to him everything the collective Typosphere has found out about Daytons, so he’s pretty happy about his find.

      I find the Dayton most interesting because it has been recently well documented by Mr. Polt, Messenger and yourself – yet it is still unappreciated enough that finding one is probably within the grasp of even casual collectors. Like the Gold-plated QDL (though far rarer), simple chance and a reasonably small budget could get you a real conversation piece for your collection, as you yourself have proved. :D

      1. I contacted Misra Records and they explained that the image of the Dayton was lifted from the Internet. In fact, it is the one featured on Robert Messenger’s site, which is likely from the former Rher collection (notice the platen). Messenger must have additional images of that typer.

        Misra Records is located in Dayton, Ohio, so I can see the appeal of this image.

        1. mystery solved then! There are only 7 known now. (:

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