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The Keaton Music Typewriter

This rare gem, is rare indeed. It's endangered and on the verge of extinction, with less than 12 known to exist! So read on and smile as this contraption smiles back at you with it's curved white keys, reminiscent of the Cheshire Cat's grin!

Photo via Wikipedia

This typewriter gives ‘take a note’ a whole ‘nother meaning! Inventor Robert H. Keaton came up with the device, which was patented in 1936, to aid musicians in the creative process, by spending less time filling notes in with a pen and more time dreaming up musical scores. It was also targeted at educators and publishers for them to be able to produce copies, of the music they were to distribute, at a higher rate and I’d assume, increased legibility!

Since its first release in 1936, the typewriter grew, both in demand and keys! The initial ‘14 keys’ were upgraded to ‘33 keys’ in 1953. Only the latter model is shown in the photos in this article.

As you may ‘note’ from the above images, blank music sheets are stacked beneath the mechanism in order to begin typing out musical notation!

Vintage poster advertisement showing the typewriter in action. Photo via Laughing Squid

Sheet after sheet, we think this ‘buster’ (no relation to the silent film comic) must have been a real treat to folks in the music scene back in the day, such as the songwriters and publishers of New York City’s Tin Pan Alley, particularly those who made their earnings by selling sheet music, known as “song pluggers”. Notables of the Manhattan music houses include Irving Berlin and George Gershwin.

Besides the few that are being sold online for close to 6000 USD (almsot 30 times its original price of 225 USD), you can find them in a handful of museums, such as the Safir Office Machines Museum located in Iran’s capital, Tehran.

This Laughing Squid article inspired us to write our article and, with some Wikipedia research, this inspired state came full circle in the piece above!

written by soundfoodaround

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