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Typewriter Collection Includes First Models

By Julie Harrison

Jay Respler has a collection of typewriters that puts a sparkle in the eyes of typewriter collectors.

With about 150 machines, Respler owns two Sholes and Glidden and the first models of Underwood, Royal, Smith Corona and IBM.

"There is a Woodstock from 1924, one of the earliest electric machines," said Respler.

The Sholes and Glidden was the first typewriter and made by Remington in 1874. It's ornate flower design made it attractive enough to place in the living room of a home. Because the typewriter was a first, Remington couldn't figure out where the typewriter would be used more, in the home or the office. So, the flowers were added. Later, the model adopted the black industrial look.

Interestingly enough, the Sholes also adopted the first keyboard layout. While other typewriter companies may have different layouts of the letters, the Sholes set-up became standard. It wasn't that the Sholes keyboard was better, but it was the first.

While small children may wonder why the keyboard doesn't go in order of the alphabet, the Sholes keyboard was laid out for the simple purpose of keeping the typebars from clashing. The less likely to clash, the faster the typist can go.

"As with all collectors, the typewriter I wanted the most was a Sholes and Glidden. I thought I would never find one. Then one day I found one for sale only a half hour away. I immediately arranged to get it," said Respler. "This machine was found in a barn in Pennsylvania. It was home to a beehive when found."

Not only does Respler have rare typewriters, but he has ones with stories to tell.

"There is a Mercedes in virtually mint condition. I got it from the original owner who explained how his family escaped from pre-war Germany with it," Respler said.

Another interesting machine is his Standard Folding Corona. "It was originally in Smith Corona's own museum collection. The original museum display card with it draws many comments. We did repairs for a Smith Corona Vice President. He was pleased with our work and offered me the typewriter in return," said Respler.

Originally, Respler worked for Olivetti in New York City repairing calculators. And after a few years, he began to sell machines.

"Eventually I moved to Freehold, New Jersey and sales continued to grow. I finally had to leave Olivetti and start my own business, Advanced Business Machines Co.," commented Respler.

The business has now expanded to areas other than calculators and is home to Respler's collection.

Respler actually became interested in typewriters a few years back, when a customer gave him a Smith Corona portable.

"Doing research to find the background of this typewriter got me interested in all the other machines I was reading about. Then I wanted to get samples of those typewriters," Respler said. And now he is hooked on typewriters and enjoys collecting.

"I enjoy the nicer looking and historically significant machines. Since many of the machines from the collection are on public display, when people have questions, I can educate them on the history of typewriters. How the Qwerty keyboard came about and how typewriters opened up the office work area to women," commented Respler.

Also in his collection are some early electronic calculators and adding machines.

Two of his adding machines are the Comptometer and the Dalton.

"The Comptometer was rescued from disposal in North Jersey and presented to me by a friend who knew of my collection," Respler said. "After full keyboard machines, the Dalton was the first 10 key adding machine."

In his calculator collection he has the Logos 9, the smallest printing electronic calculator and the Divisumma 28 and 18. The 28 has a unique all rubber keyboard and the 18 was gold colored. Both of the Divisummas printed on special silver thermal paper.

And what typewriter is left on Respler's want list?

"Since I started my career with Olivetti, I would like to get an early Olivetti typewriter," said Respler.

"When I first started at Olivetti, I was shown the basement where years of trade machines were piled high. I had not interest in collecting then, but I often wonder what gems were rusting away there that I would love to have now."

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