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Hansen Writing Ball (Commercial) (Denmark)

This is a Hansen Writing Ball (Commercial).

This object is not part of the Cooper Hewitt's permanent collection. It was able to spend time at the museum on loan from National Museum of American History as part of Tools: Extending Our Reach.

It is dated 1878. Its medium is brass, ferrous alloy, paper.

Among the first commercially successful mechanical writing devices was the "writing ball," invented by Rasmus Malling-Hansen, a Danish teacher of the deaf, who wanted to provide a mechanical means of communication for the deaf and mute. In 1870, he patented a working model of the machine in Europe and received the first of three U.S. patents in 1872. The application for his "Type Writing-Machine" (US Patent 125,952), detailed how type-carrying plungers made an imprint on a paper wrapped on a cylinder. Controlled by a pendulum or electricity, the machine’s spring-driven mechanism rotated the cylinder line by line and letter by letter. He suggested that the "types"—today called "keys"—should be arranged in two clusters, vowels for the left hand, consonants for the right., Early adopters like German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche had embraced the writing ball long before businesses made typewriters viable on a mass scale.

It is credited Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History, On deposit from Wyckoff, Seamans and Benedict, Cat. 181005.

  • Multiplex Typewriter
  • metal, wood.
  • Museum purchase from the Decorative Arts Association Acquisition Fund.
  • 1994-73-4
  • Praxis 48 Typewriter
  • plastic and metal housing.
  • Gift of Barry Friedman and Patricia Pastor.
  • 1986-99-2-a,b

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Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 22.9 x 22.2 x 20.3 cm (9 in. x 8 3/4 in. x 8 in.)

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Tools: Extending Our Reach.

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Hansen Writing Ball (Commercial) (Denmark) |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=8 June 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>