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Life Span: 1908-Present
Location: 159 N. Dearborn Street
Architect: Holabird & Roche
Constructed as headquarters for the Oliver Typewriter Company, this Chicago-School-style building clearly expresses its interior steel frame through a grid-like exterior. Classical cast-iron ornamental subtly advertises the company’s name and product. The top two floors were added in 1920 by the original architects.
Designated on May 9, 1984
Harold Washington, Mayor
Commission on Chicago Landmarks
From Notable Men of Illinois and Their State, 1931:
The Oliver Typewriter company was organized in 1896 and occupied one room in the Atwood building, Chicago. It now enjoys its own home in the handsome five-story building erected in 1907 at 159-167 N. Dearborn street and occupies the entire structure for its general offices. The factory is located at Woodstock, Ill., where it was established in 1896. It has grown from a small building to many one story buildings covering more than ten acres of ground, and employs thousands of men in the manufacture of typewriters only. This is truly an Illinois product and from its phenomenal growth, its popularity and worth are easily estimated. Hundreds of thousands of Oliver typewriters are in dally use throughout the civilized world.
The officers are men of prominence, force and ability. Lawrence Williams is president and general manager; Delavan Smith, vice president; E. H. Smith, second vice-president and treasurer; Ricord Gradwell, second vice-president and assistant general manager; John Whitworth, second vice-president and superintendent of factory at Woodstock.
Oliver Typewriter Building
Holabird & Roche drawing
About 1907, two floors were added in 1920
This is truly an Illinois product and its phenomenal growth, its popularity and worth are easily estimated. Hundreds of thousands of Oliver typewriters are in daily use throughout the civilized world. The officers are men of prominence, force, and ability.
By this date, branch offices of the Oliver Typewriting Company had been established in six major American cities as well as London, England, and the Oliver Typewriter had been the recipient of numerous gold medals and awards. The primacy of the Oliver Typewriter was due to the fact that the company promoted it as “the practical, as well as the original, solution of the visible-writing problem-a problem that baffled inventors for over thirty years after the blind typewriters made their appearance.” In other words, with the Oliver typewriter every character was right side up and in plain sight as soon as it was printed. For its day, the Oliver Typewriter was one of the most advanced and superior machines on the market.
Type Writer Machine
Patent No. 528,484
October 30, 1894
The Oliver Corporate Typeface
The official (advertising) type-face adopted by The Oliver Typewriter Company is called “Ebony.”
It is often difficult for Local Agents, and Oliver Representatives in general, to obtain an exact reproduction of this letter without something to pattern after.
We have noticed many endeavors to employ this letter for signs, cards, windows and other Oliver publicity, but, owing to its radical characteristics, it is almost impossible to reproduce it properly and perfectly.
As a guide to future requirements we are printing on this page a complete alphabet, both in large and small letters, together with punctuation points, of “Ebony,” the official Oliver type.
We trust that it will be found useful as a pattern, and that, in future, all Oliver lettering will be true “Ebony” throughout The Organization.
The Official Oliver Type-face
Olliver Bulletin, 1908
OLIVER TYPEWRITER MODELS
Model 5 Oliver Typewriter
Oliver No.1 (1894-1896) – Nickle plated frame and the handles on the sides and base are flush with the surface. Very thin base. Oliver name plates mounted to profiles.
Oliver No.2 (1896-1901) – The handles on the sides have been raised and the typewriter is labled as a no.2 on the paper table. These can be found in green and nickle plate. Thicker base than the no.1. Oliver name plates mounted to profiles.
Oliver No.3 (1902-1907) – Labeled as a no.3 below keyboard. Olive green finish becomes the standard. The base is thicker than the no.2. Oliver name plates mounted to profiles.
Oliver No.4 (1902-1907) – Identical to the no.3 but manufactured for foreign markets.
Oliver No.5 (1907-1914) – The frame is noticeably different from the previous models and fully enclosed. The Oliver name plates on the profiles have been eliminated from here on.
Oliver No.6 (1907-1914) – Identical to the no.5 model. Made for foreign markets.
Oliver No.7 (1914-1915) – Thicker and wider base. Left margin release moved to right of keyboard
Oliver No.8 (1914-1915) – Identical to the no.7 model. Made for foreign markets.
Oliver No.9 (1915-1922) – Right and left shift keys; two-color ribbon, otherwise, it is nearly identical to the no.7 model.
Oliver No.10 (1915-1922) – Identical to the no.9 model. Made for foreign markets.
Oliver No.L10 (1915-1922) – Identical to the no.9/10 models but nickle plated.
Oliver No.11 (1922-1928) – The olive green finish has been replaced by black with gold pinstripes. The base has two cutouts on the sides so the typewriter can be lifted. The handles have been eliminated. Last model made in U.S.
Oliver No.12 (1922-1928) – Identical to the no.11 model. Made for foreign markets.
Oliver No.L12 (1922-1928) – Identical to the no.9/10 models but nickel plated.
In 1928, the Oliver Typewriter Company was sold to investors who formed the British Oliver Typewriter Company in Croydon, England.
Oliver 9 Typewriter (1915 to 1922)
(Left) 1916 Ad
Most Olivers were painted olive green
Oliver Typewriter Factory, Woodstock, ILL
The following is a complete catalog featuring the Oliver 2 Typewriter which was produced between 1898 and 1901.
The following is a complete catalog featuring the Oliver 7 Typewriter which was produced between 1914 and 1915.