Antique Typewriters

The Martin Howard Collection

The Collector

Martin HowardI live in Toronto, Canada with my wife and daughter and have been collecting antique typewriters since 1988. Over the years I have put together a collection of typewriters dating from the 1880s to the early 1900s.

Welcome to my site - I invite you to browse my collection and discover for yourself this wonderful world of antique typewriters!

If you have any questions, require some information or have an early typewriter for sale, please be in touch.

Why collect typewriters?

Many people love old mechanical things and I am no exception. It was my parents though, in collecting all sorts of antique agricultural, medical, and kitchen tools that really showed me the beauty and intrigue of old machinery and gave me the desire to form my own collection when I was in my late 20s. In my hunt for what I would collect I gave myself these parameters, a 19th century mechanical object, something not too large, something with a great variety in design, and finally something not collected by many others. After two years of searching for my collectible, I spotted high upon a shelf in a cluttered junk shop, a very dirty and quite rusty typewriter. It turned out to be a Caligraph typewriter from the early 1880s. I paid $100 for it, took it home, and began to completely take it apart and restore it. During this time I discovered the remarkable range of typewriter designs that had emerged during the 1880s and 1890s and I was hooked. I have continued to love collecting these early typing machines and the many adventures that collecting them has taken me on ever since that life changing find in the junk shop.

Some notable typewriters in the collection.

  • Hall
    First index typewriter (no keyboard), the world's first portable, 1881
  • Hammonia
    First European typewriter, Hamburg Germany, 1884
  • Columbia 1
    One of the few early typewriters to use proportional spacing, 1884
  • Crandall 1
    First typewriter with a single-type element, 1883
  • Victor
    First typewriter to use a 'daisy wheel', 1889

I also enjoy collecting, decorated ribbon tins, advertising and letterheads from the period.

I rarely find a new addition to my collection in an antique shop. More often I track them down through word of mouth and by promoting the hobby by displaying typewriters at events and local antique shows. My website also helps to put me in touch with people and their typewriters.

In focusing on the pioneering efforts to create a typing machine, I have acquired machines of unusual design and of great beauty. I have always been interested in objects of antiquity and their historical context. In collecting typewriters, I found an ideal venue to connect with early machines, to practice and develop conservation techniques, and to be the curator of my own museum.