George C. Blickensderfer, American, 1850-1917, Model 6 portable typewriter, c. 1906, aluminum, steel, copper, Manufactured by Blickensderfer Manufacturing Co., Stamford, Connecticut, The Modernism Collection, gift of Norwest Bank Minnesota 98.276.279.1
When George C. Blickensderfer unveiled his Model 5 at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, it caught the imagination of Americans and Europeans alike with its ingeniously simple design.
The world’s first truly portable typewriter, it used a rotating type wheel, which allowed for a speedy change in typeface, and contained about 250 parts – a tenth of the parts that made up its desktop contemporaries.
Blickensderfer would present an even lighter take on the Model 5 in 1906: the Model 6, a lightweight typewriter manufactured exclusively in aluminum. Dubbed the “Five-Pound Private Secretary,” the Model 6 was portable and durable; the company touted it in advertisements as being, “in every way, a high class machine.”
Jennifer Komar Olivarez
Associate Curator, Decorative Arts, Textiles, and Sculpture
Minneapolis Institute of Arts