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The awkward Thürey (say "two-rye"), made by Eduard Thürey in Cologne from 1909 to 1912, is one of the most bizarre and rare European writing machines. Like nearly every early typewriter under the sun, it is described and illustrated in Ernst Martin's great Die Schreibmaschine.

The most striking feature of the Thürey is its unconventional keyboard, featuring 28 keys that are arranged in columns rather than rows. The long type levers run parallel to the carriage. This highly unusual arrangement gives the machine its broad shape, making it look like some sort of stringed musical instrument. The two shift keys are the wide strips to the left of the keyboard, which are meant to be depressed by the little finger of the left hand. Another eye-catching feature is the carrying handle on the right side.

In other respects, the Thürey resembles some other early writing machines. Like many other machines, such as the Blickensderfer, the Thürey prints from a typewheel which is inked by ink rollers. As in the Hammond, Chicago and other machines, a hammer behind the paper hits the paper against the type. A leather band runs between the hammer and the paper; as the hammer hits the printing point, a second, parallel hammer head also hits the leather band to the left of the typewheel in order to ensure a better impression. One disadvantage of the Thürey's complex system of leverage is that some keys require more force than others to make an impression.

The Thürey represents one of the last outbursts of radical experimentation in the typewriter world. Twenty years earlier, it might have had a chance, but by 1909 the public had definite ideas about how a typewriter should look -- and the Thürey did not fit the bill. Its failure in the marketplace makes it a scarce and desirable collector's item today.

Click here to see actual photos of a Thürey at the Virtual Typewriter Museum.

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