So noiseless it got lost

June 25, 2010

Not too long ago, a construction worker on our library’s construction project handed me a typewriter that has spent the last 50 years or so in oblivion.  When I asked him where he found it, he wasn’t sure because someone else on the crew made the discovery and didn’t necessarily think it important enough to document the *exact* location.   (Who knows, maybe he was a young guy and had never actually seen a typewriter in real life!)  Anyway, it was found in the library’s furnace room, in the depths of the basement.   I have no idea where it was hiding because I personally cleaned out that room, peering into the corners and into every nook and cranny.  Or so I thought.

So quiet it was lost for 50 years!

Dirty but fully intact, this beautiful black Noiseless Remington typewriter is vintage 1930s according to the research I did.   Amazingly enough, the ribbon still has some ink.  The design of this typewriter is utterly fascinating.   Only a few strike keys were actually used to account for all the letters of the alphabet as well as all of the numbers. The clever design utilized multiple striking positions for a single key.  It’s just a lovely piece of history for so many reasons.

I asked the former director, Mary Gates, about the typewriter.  Mary begin her tenure here as the library director in 1974 and she had never seen it.  But she did say that she’s sure that her predecessor, Irene Metke, probably purchased it shortly after her arrival in 1936.   Mrs. Metke was the director of the Dwight Foster Public Library from 1936 to 1973.  She was well known for her love of typing catalog cards.  Seriously.

So I dug up an old catalog card and stuck it in the platen just like old times.  Perhaps that card was originally typed in this very typewriter.  We’ll be finding a place to display this in the historic area of our new library.   So I’m actually really glad it’s noiseless.


  1. Fascinating,

    Perhaps the original spirit of the library imbues

    this little machine.

    It could have hidden itself for discovery at this


    and for this purpose, a touchstone.

    Just think of all the materials, all the

    correspondences this machine would have touched.

    Very Cool,

  2. connie, let me know if you want someone to take this off your hands. it seems like an awfully big burden–all that metal and whatnot. i can give it a good home! 🙂

    • How nice of you to think of helping us out in this way, Steev! 😉

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