Typewriter of the circular index and typewheel class, manufactured by the Columbia Typewriter Company of New York, U.S.A. The design was created by Charles Shapiro, a watchmaker of New York and patented in the U.S. in 1885. It was the first typewriter to have proportional spacing whereby the spacing between characters was proportional to the width of the characters themselves.

The individual characters are arranged around the periphery of the typewheel which rotates on a horizontal axis above and parallel to the platen. The typewheel is connected by gearing to a pointer which rotates over an index disc which is at right angles to the typewheel.To print, the typewheel is rotated using a handle on its axis until the pointer on the index shows that the required character is opposite the printing point. The typewheel handle is then depressed to force the character into contact with the paper and platen. As the typewheel moves down it brushes against an inking roller which applies ink to the character.

Physical Description

Metal base. Cylindrical platen. Large typewheel with characters arranged around periphery mounted above platen with axis parall to platen. Cylindrical handle with end knob projects from centre of typewheel. Circular index disc marked with letters, numbers and characters on horizontal axis at right angles to typewheel axis. Pointer which moves over index disc is geared to typewheel. Typewriter housed in wooden box with hinged front and metal handle on top.

More Information

  • Collecting Areas

    Information & Communication

  • Acquisition Information


  • Place & Date Made

    Columbia Typewriter Company, New York, New York, United States of America, circa 1885

  • Inscriptions

    Monogram on handle of typewheel: 'CFS' Inscribed on plate on back of mechanism: 'THE COLUMBIA TYPEWRITER CO. / REGISTERED / TRADE [CFS monogram inside shield] MARK / U.S. JULY 28, 1885 ENG. NOV 8, 1884 / U.S. FEB. 2 1886 FR. MARCH 3, 1885 / GER. NOV. 9, 1884 / NEW YORK U.S.A.' On index dial: 'COLUMBIA TYPE WRITER / No. 2 / REGISTERED [CFS monogram inside shield] TRADE MARK' Label inside box front: 'PALMER & HOWE / Mercantile Stationers / 73, 75 & 77 PRINCESS STREET, MANCHESTER'

  • Classification

    Communications, Typewriting, Mechanical

  • Category

    History & Technology

  • Discipline


  • Type of item


  • Overall Dimensions

    250 mm (Width), 110 mm (Depth), 155 mm (Height)
    Dimensions of typewriter without case.

  • Overall Dimensions

    280 mm (Width), 130 mm (Depth), 180 mm (Height)
    Overall dimensions with typewriter in case.

  • Keywords

    Office Equipment, Typewriters