Samuel W. Francis Writing Machine

This is a typewriter patented by Dr. Samuel Ward Francis of Newport, Rhode Island in 1857. The patent received number 18,504 and claimed the principal improvements of arranging the hammers in a circle, a common printing center, with a key operation similar in manner to that of a piano. The typewriter consists of a wooden box with attached mechanism for typing. The ivory keyboard is similar to a piano's and extends the length of the front, earning the writing machine the “Literary Piano” nickname.
Currently not on view
date made
Francis, Dr. Samuel Ward
place made
United States: Rhode Island, Rhode Island, Newport
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
metal (overall material)
bone, ivory (overall material)
overall: 8 5/8 in x 25 3/8 in x 22 3/4 in; 21.9075 cm x 64.4525 cm x 57.785 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Samuel Ward Francis
See more items in
Work and Industry: Mechanisms
Computers & Business Machines
Data Source
National Museum of American History


Everyone keyboards now, but I had never seen this typewriter with an ivory keyboard until I was at the Newport Historical Society last weekend. I have written the first history of Katharine Gibbs School (1911-2011), the world famous institution that women to be productive and independent. I am sharing this image with my Facebook followers, on Twitter, and with Gibbs graduates, faculty, and staff on email

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