28 augustus 2014

Wagner-Underwood #2 versus #5

Wagner Underwood 5, SN 3932-5
Last week, I finally bought a very early Wagner-Underwood #5, with serial number 3932-5. Not many earlier Underwood #5's are known to have survived. I was able to buy it after some harsh negotiations, just 10 minutes driving from where I live. It needed some minor repair and a lot of cleaning, but now it's working again.

Wagner Underwood 5, SN 3932-5

Wagner Underwood 5, SN 3932-5

According to the serial number, this machine was made in 1901. However, it features a dealer sticker of Kaptino. This Amsterdam based typewriter dealing company was founded in 1950, but the address on the sticker was used by Kaptino only from 1962 onwards. I think it's amazing that this typewriter was apparently re-sold again over 60 years after it came out of the factory!


Wagner Underwood 5, SN 3932-5


As the typewriter was re-sold by Kaptino in the 1960s (or later), it's possible that the machine was rebuilt or thoroughly serviced. It seems it was repainted at some spots, but not everywhere. For example, the Wagner-decal at the back is still visible. To me, it seems that the hardware is still original. That makes sense, as Kaptino re-sold standard typewriters for as little as 59 guilders (a new Underwood costed 415 guilders at the time), see this 1962 advertisement. If this machine was really altered with new hardware, it wouldn't be profitable to sell at such a low price.

Last year, I was lucky enough to buy a dirty Wagner-Underwood 2. I was so excited about the find, that I only posted some snapshots of the machine before cleaning it. Now I've cleaned it and I also replaced the not original (plastic!) letters of the shift- and tabulator-key. It looks far better now:

Wagner Underwood 2, SN 9732, before cleaning


Wagner Underwood 2, SN 9732, after cleaning

In total, only around 12000 Wagner-Underwood's 1 and 2 were made (the #2 was the export version with more keys). After that, they were continued by the improved models 4 and 5, the latter being the export version. According to the typewriterdatabase.com, my Wagner-Underwood #2 SN 9732 was made in december 1900. That's just a few months before my Wagner-Underwood #5 SN 3932-5 came out of the factory. So, let's compare the two machines. Click on the image to enlarge.

Wagner-Underwood #2 SN 9732 (left) and Wagner-Underwood #5 SN 3932-5 (right)

Wagner-Underwood #2 SN 9732 (left) and Wagner-Underwood #5 SN 3932-5 (right)

Wagner-Underwood #2 SN 9732 (left) and Wagner-Underwood #5 SN 3932-5 (right)
Wagner-Underwood #2 SN 9732 (left) and Wagner-Underwood #5 SN 3932-5 (right)

Wagner-Underwood #2 SN 9732 (left) and Wagner-Underwood #5 SN 3932-5 (right)
Can you spot the differences?

4 opmerkingen:

Richard P zei

Excellent documentation. This kind of thing is very valuable to collectors. And congratulations!

Scott Kernaghan zei

Ohhhhhh.... That 2 is gorgeous. Such a beautiful machine!

Rob Bowker zei

I can't really spot many differences at all - it looks like Underwood got it right with the 2 and stuck with a good design. Great comparisons and very useful.

RobertG zei

Impressive (and influential) machines.

Any idea on the reason for the U-shaped drop in the top side bar of the frame? The carriage seems to have identical races on 2 and 5. Manufacturing experience -> ease of assembly perhaps?