When I saw an early Woodstock on eBay, with a well-preserved decal, for a very low Buy It Now price—$25!—how could I resist?
The decals on these early machines have a lot of color and charm, including the eagle (?) that incorporates the letters WTCo for Woodstock Typewriter Company.
Later Woodstocks, such as this 1930 machine, switched to a simpler decal and an illustration of the head of Mercury.
When I checked the serial number on my new early Woodstock (located behind the right end of the front carriage rail), I was baffled to see this:
After I removed the carriage (which I do not recommend on these early machines, because getting it back on while keeping the ball bearings in place is a stressful experience), I noticed this number on the bottom of the carriage:
My guess is that DW55398 is the original serial number. It was then filed off from the body of the machine—but not completely—and the number 57722 was stamped imperfectly over it. Why?
The DW prefix stands for dead key, wide carriage, according to our serial number information. This is certainly a wide-carriage machine, with a platen length of 11 inches, but it does not have a dead key (used for typing accents and other punctuation marks). Maybe the typewriter was originally destined to have a foreign-language keyboard, but then someone at the factory thought better of it.
Both serial numbers should date from 1920.
There are many small differences between this early Woodstock and later ones. For instance, there is no stencil setting, and the ribbon control gives you many tiny increments between the upper and lower halves of the ribbon. This would actually be great if you're using a one-color ribbon and want to squeeze the most ink possible out of it.
The escapement is also different. It feels a little stiffer to me than the later design, and is fairly loud and rattly when you return the carriage.
After extensive cleaning and polishing, the machine looks great.