What Is This?

My parents have lived in the same house for 40 years. The last time they cleaned out the basement, I was so young that it was still acceptable for me to run around shirtless playing Indiana Jones (at the risk of dating myself, that was nearly 20 years ago). As a result, it’s not uncommon to dig out artifacts such as this:

... a Civil War-era torture device?
… a Civil War-era torture device?

When a Google search yielded nothing, I sent this photo to a couple of typewriter museums. Paul Robert of the Virtual Typewriter Museum was kind enough to respond to my message and inform me that these are the remains of a People’s typewriter from 1891. The original machine looked like this:


Yes, that is a typewriter. That is what they used to look like, though production of this machine didn’t last long. If it weren’t a rusted skeleton, it would be quite rare and probably worth a lot of money.

It’s a bit sad to view these images side by side and imagine the rate of this object’s decay. How did it fall into such a state? Did someone keep it in a barn for fifty years? I’d hate to think that my parents were in anyway responsible, but our basement did used to flood on a regular basis.

My parents are inexplicably on a basement cleaning spree, so perhaps I will post more photos of curious objects.

As for what will become of the ancient typewriter, I’m hanging onto it for now. If I can find a museum that wants it, I’ll deliver.