Bombay Bargain

Woodstock Bombay 1936 brochure

The above pamphlet advertised machines available from The Office Appliance Corporation in Bombay, India in September, 1936.  On the front we see a Woodstock standard machine – and on the inside we see some interesting information.

Woodstock prices Bombay 1936

We see from the above price list several interesting things.  First, the company offered for sale not only brand new Woodstock machines, but also rebuilt Woodstocks and Bijou (Erika) portables.  Second, the Woodstock machines are described as “Rebuilt at Woodstock Factory.”  Woodstock eventually got into the act of rebuilding its own machines, as did all the other big makes.  Third, the price of the rebuilt machines is, in the example of the normal carriage width (F cap or “fools cap”) only about 56% of that of the brand new machine and is exactly the same as the price of the Bijou model V portable.

The above price comparison makes it clear that not only were rebuilt standard typewriters competitive with brand-new standard machines, but that they were also competitive with portables if the buyer didn’t really want or need to move the machine around.  It’s also clear that the presence of rebuilt standards in a product line only increased the chance to make a sale, which is what really counts.

Take ’em apart

Disassembly Shipman Ward 1924

When a rebuilder of typewriters received and categorized machines to be rebuilt, the first serious step in the remanufacturing process was disassembly.  Here, we see the disassembly department of the Shipman-Ward Manufacturing Company in 1924.  E. W. S. Shipman, founder of the company (originally “Typewriter Emporium,” founded in 1892) is standing beside one of his technicians performing the disassembly of an Underwood standard machine.  By this date, Shipman-Ward was handling the Underwood exclusively.

In large factory settings such as this firm’s, the disassembly was performed by a bank of dedicated persons; the parts and the frames were then passed on to different divisions for special work. Badly worn parts were immediately discarded.  This differed considerably from the method used in the early years of factory rebuilding in which one technician handled each machine from start to finish.  The general factory method was almost wholly adopted prior to the outbreak of the First World War; only local dealers who rebuilt machines had a technician handle each machine all the way through – a practice of course that holds today as the factory rebuilding of typewriters is long gone.

Below, an example from a 1924 Shipman-Ward catalog showing a finished rebuilt Underwood No. 4.  The only way to tell this machine from a factory Underwood is the insert in the right-hand shift key.

Underwood No 4 Shipman Ward 1924