First Typewriter
FES Title: First Typewriter
Alternate Titles: Charles Thurber His Invention the Typewriter
[1967]; A Counting Room and an Early Typewriter
Date: 05/1944
Size: 27″H x 34″W
Medium: oil-on-canvas
Type: subject painting
Published: Printed as a lithograph by Ketterlinus of Philadelphia, PA.
Inscription: lr: Frank E. Schoonover / ’44
Annotations: en verso: Frank E. Schoonover / May, 1944 Wilmington;
en verso on label: painted for New York Life / by Frank E. Schoonover / “A Counting Room and an Early Typewriter” / In 1845, when New York Life was founded, Charles / Thurber built and patented what he called a “chirographer” a crude but effective / typewriter, shown in the illustration.
Exhibitions: 1967 Gift Horse; 2003 Biggs; 2006 HSD
Comments: TP 5/9/02; index;
Commentary: “In 1945, New York Life Insurance Company celebrated its 100th year in business. To commemorate the occasion, Frank E. Schoonover, a famous Delaware artist, was commissioned to paint what a New York Life Insurance Company office might have looked like 100 years earlier, in 1845.
Schoonover’s research led him to the Thurber typewriter that had been patented on August 26, 1843, and described in Scientific American Magazine (April 30, 1887) as ‘The First American Typewriter.’
The painting shows a salesman demonstrating this new technology to an all male office with male secretaries still using quill pens. As the proud manager and supervisor look over the shoulder of the typewriter salesman, the male secretaries’ expressions show profound skepticism.
Schoonover was known for the wonderful expressions he created.”
(Exhibition poster, courtesy of Thomas Russo, President, Thomas A. Russo Museum of Business History & Technology)
Provenance: Given by the artist to private collection
Current Owner: