Thursday, March 7, 2024

An Imperial telegrapher's typewriter

Thanks to Leicester Museum and Galleries for permission to publish these photos of an extraordinary Imperial portable, made in Leicester. This is a Model T, serial 2N 634 (1940), with a three-row telegrapher's keyboard. You can click on any photo to see a high-resolution image.
In the back, there is room for a roll of paper.

The keyboard includes a FIGS shift on the left and a LTRS key to return the carriage to the unshifted position. 

The CAR RET key is mysterious, as one would presumably use the usual lever to return the carriage. The lever with the arrow is for setting tab stops, as explained on page 9 of the user's manual for the Model T

As you can see, each type slug includes a sans-serif capital letter on the bottom and a figure on the top. 

I do wonder why telegraphers would prefer a three-bank typewriter that required you to shift for figures over a four-bank typewriter. Many standard-sized telegrapher's "mills" were four-bank machines, after all. Perhaps the three-bank design saved some weight.

For more examples of telegrapher's typewriters, click here.


  1. Fascinating!

  2. Perhaps "Car Ret" is "character Return" or "backspacer"?

    1. I still think it's short for "carriage return," but I bet you're right that its function is to backspace. Thanks!