The Classic Typewriter Page

Gardner (Victoria)

This month's article was written by Berthold Kerschbaumer
and translated by Richard Polt

Victoria I

The Gardner -- and its German counterpart, the Victoria -- is one of the most peculiar constructions in the long history of the typewriter. The goal of this project was to construct a cheap machine on which one could write faster, by reducing the number of keys. But the result was the very opposite of a speedy machine, and consequently it reached a very small market. The machine was offered as a rapid typewriter, and advertised as being three to four times faster than the pen. This unusual machine was invented and produced in 1890 by John Gardner of Manchester.

Gardner I keyboard The Gardner is a type-cylinder machine with 14 keys, which could write 84 characters with the assistance of a shift lever (the first model had 13 keys in two rows, which wrote 78 characters). Thus, six characters could be written by means of each key lever.

In his book Schreibmaschinen und Schriften- Vervielfältigung (Typewriters and Manifolding), Friedrich Müller describes the typing process as follows:

Victoria I keyboard Each keytop is marked with four letters, numbers or symbols -- black on the right, red on the left. A simple strike of the key brings only the black letters and symbols to the printing point. In order to print the letters marked in red, the space bar must also be depressed when one strikes the key.

In order to type capitals, the shift lever (A) had to be moved forward; to type figures, it had to be moved backward. The red symbols then required still another simultaneous depression of the space bar. Are you confused yet? The writers of the day must have had a rough time with it too, and rapid writing was impossible, as is obvious from the illustration above.

type cylinderThe type cylinder was made of vulcanized rubber and contained 84 types in six rows. It was interchangeable and similar to that of the Crandall. It is located on a shaft which is turned by the action of a toothed segment at its foot and which brings the type cylinder into the desired position. The machine did not print by hitting the type cylinder against the paper; instead, a device hit the paper against the cylinder. In order to make carbon copies, there were models in which this device was replaced with a brass hammer, as in the Hammond.

Inking is by two ink rolls located to the left and right of the type cylinder.

Victoria Model II Since the operation of the machine was very cumbersome, only a few machines could be sold. In England, production ended in 1895. In Germany the machine was produced by the Karl Lipp company of Fulda. In 1899, it was taken over by the Attila bicycle works in Dresden. In this year an improved model appeared, which was equipped with two shift keys instead of the shift lever. However, this improvement was able to delay the end of production by only a year. In 1900, manufacture of the Victoria was finally abandoned. According to Ernst Martin's Die Schreibmaschine, the Gardner was produced in France for a short time beginning in 1893, under the name Victorieuse.

My research up to now indicates the following different models:


Victoria advertisement

Collector Wilhelm Süß of Steyr graciously made his Victoria available for the photo at the top of this page.

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