Small portable typewriter of the index class manufactured by the Hall Type-Writer Company of Salem, Massachusetts, USA. Thomas Hall, a Brooklyn engineer, patented the design in 1881.

The first model was manufactured in New York but an improved version, of which this machine is an example, was introduced in 1887 following the company's move to Salem in Massachusetts. This version is thus known as the 'Salem Model'. The company moved to Boston in 1890 and subsequent models were named after that city.

This typewriter is of the index class which function by having all the type characters moulded on to a flexible plate. A pointer moving over an index card selects the character to be printed. When the pointer is pressed down the flexible sheet is deformed slightly so that the selected character is pressed into contact with the paper. In the Hall machines the flexible plate is square.

Physical Description

Metal frame with circular-section metal rails along which rectangular carriage can move above flat platen. Carriage holds square index plate with 9 x 9 array of holes marked with letters, numbers and other characters. Pivoted and sliding metal handle carries selector pin which can be located into appropriate hole in index plate. Handle is connected to rubber plate mounted beneath carriage and embossed with characters. Positioning selector pin moves selected character to printing point and pressing down on handle and carriage brings character into contact with paper and platen. Machine is mounted in wooden case with hinged lid, lock and brass handle.


Statement of Significance:
According to the report of the Trustees of the Museum 1921, this was "the first kind of typewriter used commercially in Australia."

More Information

  • Collecting Areas

    Information & Communication

  • Acquisition Information

    Donation from D. J. Gilchrist, 22 Jul 1921

  • Manufacturer

    Hall Type Writer Company, New York, New York State, United States of America, 1887-1890

  • Inscriptions

    On oval plate on carriage: 'HALL TYPEWRITER Co. / PATENTED / MAR. 1, 1881 / No. 8032 / SALEM. MASS' On front of case behind handle: 'HALL TYPEWRITER Co. / [Quill pen trademark] / TRADE MARK / SALEM. MASS.'

  • Classification

    Communications, Typewriting, Mechanical

  • Category

    History & Technology

  • Discipline


  • Type of item


  • Overall Dimensions

    390 mm (Width), 232 mm (Depth), 100 mm (Height), 3.42 kg (Weight)
    Overall dimensions when closed.

  • Overall Dimensions

    390 mm (Width), 450 mm (Depth), 95 mm (Height)
    Overall dimensions when open.

  • Maximum dimensions

    450 mm (Length), 394 mm (Width), 124 mm (Height)
    Measurement From Conservation. Case open and typewriter elevated to it's greatest angle.

  • References

    [Book] Adler, Michael H. 1973. The Writing Machine - a history of the typewriter. 379., 1973, 196-197 Pages

  • Keywords

    Typewriters, Office Equipment