Deep Dive: Exploring the Exhibits

Underwood Number 5 Manual Standard Typewriter

The Number 5 is an 84 character ribbon machine with glass topped keys. It's weight is approximately 29 lbs, with a serial number 1411467.


Regarded as one of the most successful typewriter designs, this model appeared just before the turn of the 20th century. When this model was first introduced, it was only one of hundreds of competing typewriter models. But fast forward to 1920, and it's become one of the most imitated designs.


Franz X. Wagner was the designer of this model, with the name "Underwood" coming from the entrepreneur who bought the company early in its formation. The Underwood family was also widely known as a manufacturer of ribbons and carbon paper at this point.

Underwood Models No. 1 and 2 were scarce, with about 12,000 manufactured between 1896 and 1900. By this time, Models No. 3 through 5 were made between 1900 to 1931. The No. 5 model is regarded as the quintessential typewriter that the company produced, with millions utilized by journalists, government officials and writers in varying capacities. Subsequent models, while making adjustments in terms of modernization, would still use the No. 5 as the name to honor how it made the Underwood company a fortune.

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