A WELL-PRESERVED James Hammond typewriter from the 1880s is itself a rare item, but the example offered for sale by Gildings in Market Harborough in Leicestershire on February 21 attracted greater interest on account of its first owner, Lewis Carroll (1832-98).
It appears Carroll (aka Charles Lutwidge
Dodgson) had acquired his Hammond No.1 on May 3, 1888. A diary
entry the following day records: May 4, (F). Chandler came
across to show me how to work the 'Hammond Type-Writer',which
Inside the attractively shaped plywood
cover, at the top of the manufacturer's instructions, it is
inscribed in clear, spidery, black ink handwriting Rev. C.L.
Dodgson, Ch.Ch. Oxford.
Although it is clear from the dates that
Dodgson wrote none of his famous books on this machine, it is
thought that he used it to complete a mathematics treatise and a
small number of items of correspondence. The writer of Alice's
Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the
Looking Glass (1871) worked primarily in the fields of
geometry, matrix algebra, mathematical logic and recreational
mathematics, producing nearly a dozen books on the subject under
his given name Dodgson.
Curiosa Mathematica I (1888)
and Curiosa Mathematica II (1892) could well
have been written on this machine and certainly the Hammond, a
cutting-edge American striking machine with several features that
would survive for many decades, would doubtless have appealed to
Dodgson as one of the very first office typewriters.
While a lecturer on mathematics at Christ
Church, Oxford, Dodgson (who had taken up photography in 1856)
displayed a keen interest in writing and duplicating devices.
Among his many inventions was a writing
tablet called the nyctograph that allowed for
note-taking in the dark (when one wakes with a good idea but cannot
be pained to strike a light), while a means for justifying right
margins was his own contribution to the development of the modern
At his death this machine passed to his
brother W.L. Dodgson, and was later given to a descendant of the
A Hammond No.1 in such fine condition,
complete in its original box and with the curved keyboard that
denotes it as an early version made prior to 1889, would have
brought perhaps £800-1200 on its own, so Mark Gilding's estimate of
£2000-3000 for this one was hardly pushing the envelope.
In fact, bidding between Lewis Carroll
enthusiasts saw it reach £6500 (plus 15% buyer's premium), at which
point it was knocked down to an American collector.