W. A. Fowler and The Typemusic Company

I recently ran across a few items in a manuscript collection relating to The Typemusic Company of Lincoln. Apparently Mr. W. A. Fowler invented and marketed a typewriter used for typing up musical compositions. He sold his invention through The Typemusic Company. The few advertising/marketing items we have show that he had “offices” in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Los Angeles, California.

Image of a Typemusic typewriter (RG5696)

Image of a Typemusic typewriter (RG5696)

Advertisement for The Typemusic (RG5696)

Advertisement for The Typemusic (RG5696)

Doing a search through old Lincoln city directories, I discovered that William Arthur Fowler was the pastor at Havelock Methodist Episcopal Church in 1936 and 1937. From 1938-1940 he is listed as a salesman for Remington Rand, Inc., which was a typewriter dealer. There is no listing for William A. Fowler in the city directories after 1940. There was no listing in the city directories for “The Typemusic Company,” so it seems likely that Mr. Fowler developed the Typemusic machine while working as a typewriter saleman and then probably sold them out of his home. It’s unclear whether he really did have someone (a friend or family member) selling the machines in Los Angeles, or if that was just a marketing ploy.

Family portrait of W. A. Fowler with his wife and children (RG5696)

Family portrait of W. A. Fowler with his wife and children (RG5696)

This song book from Nebraska Wesleyan’s Golden Jubilee shows that it was produced using The Typemusic, and the advertising section in the back contains an ad for The Typemusic Company.

Song book from the Nebraska Wesleyan Golden Jubilee

Song book from the Nebraska Wesleyan Golden Jubilee

The Typemusic Company advertisement (RG5696)

The Typemusic Company advertisement (RG5696)

Although we don’t know for sure what happened to Mr. Fowler after 1940, another item in the collection may shed some light on the matter. There is a catalog/advertisement for “Typemusic, Inc.” in Chicago, Illinois dating from 1948. It seems likely that Mr. Fowler moved to Chicago and started his business there. We don’t happen to have a Typemusic machine in our museum collections. So, if you have one, or if you have any other information about The Typemusic Company or Mr. William A. Fowler, I would love to hear from you!

-Tom Mooney, Curator of Manuscripts

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4 Responses to W. A. Fowler and The Typemusic Company

  1. Kelli Bollman says:

    Mr. Mooney,
    I was going through some of my Great Aunt’s paperwork and I have found two Certificates of shares one for 3 shares of $50.00 and 6 shares of $10.00 for TypeMusic Inc. Could you tell me anything about the company or if these have any value? The certificates show they were number 8 and 9 and were never cashed in.

    Thank you,

    Kelli Bollman

    • Tom Mooney says:

      Kelli

      Unfortunately, I can’t really tell you anything about the company. In the blog entry I suggest that TypeMusic Inc. may have been founded by Mr. Fowler after he left Nebraska, but that is just a guess on my part. Do the certificates show who the officers of the company are? Are they signed by the president or some other company representative? You might try contacting the Chicago Historical Society (www.chicagohistory.org) to see if they have any information about the company. I’m guessing that this company went out of business years ago, so the shares probably are not worth anything, but you can see if the Chicago Historical Society might have more information. The certificates themselves are probably worth something to a memorabilia/document collector. You could try looking at E-bay and other online auction sites to see what similar stock certificates might sell for. I’m sorry I couldn’t be of more help, but if there is anything else I can do, just let me know.

      Sincerely,

      Tom Mooney

  2. Stephen Dolenski says:

    Dear Tom,

    William Arthur Fowler was my Grandfather. My mother is in the photo above (Shirley). I I was so pleased to see these images in your blog post, my mother has that exact photo to this day. – She has one in color that she had hand painted (they did that sort of thing before color film.)

    A few years ago I was able to find the original patent on the USPTO and eventually on Google

    http://www.google.com/patents/US2103668
    Filed in May 20, 1936 Issued December 28, 1937

    In 1955 he also invented a device for Retrieving and Storing and Dispensing Golf Balls
    http://www.google.com/patents/US2962321

    The story as I was told it he actually gave one as a gift to President Dwight D “Ike” Eisenhower.

    Grandpa needed the money and sold his rights to invention to his friend Paul Ingham (also in the document)

    Side note: Paul dated Helen Brach of the Brach Candy Heiress, (prob in the 50′s or 60′s) which is still a unsolved missing case since 1977 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Brach

    I think my grandfather also wrote the anthem for university football team as also lead the band at the university during his time there. I don’t remember the title but something to the effect “The Plainsman” your research into Nebraska’s history may yield more results.

    For a short time grandpa was interested in flying – and learned to fly a Cesna – (three wheel landing gear) and then he purchased a tail dragger – he once forgot to lean back to land and instead landed it on the belly and had to repair that plane. My mom said it was in parts in her garage for several years – eventually he repaired it and flew it across the country from California to Crystal Lake, Illinois. (in the 70′s)

    I grew up in Illinois – but my grandparents retired to Tuscon, and for a time I think resided in San Jose California – we had visited in 1972, but I was 1 year old at the time.

    When I was 5 I have a few memories of visiting them in Tuscon – I can tell you the smell of bacon fried eggs, peppermint and pipe tobacco, transports me on a one way trip back to that 40 foot motor home.

    According to my mother they indeed move to Illinois in the 40′s and he did operate The Type Music Company in Chicago, Illinois – on Halsted street.

    My mother didn’t have any recollection of any connection in LA Californa, in he 40′s (she was only 5) So it may indeed may have been clever marketing.

    He had at one time had several very potential opportunities to sell his patten to a few companies, but the cost of to protect his patent and stay off other would be products that had made only slight changes to the device i think caused him to have a nervous break down and wasn’t able to continue producing or to renew the patent. And as an employee of the Remington company they would end up owning any future inventions he’d make as an employee.

    For many years he was trying to invent a air powered engine but after loosing out on making money on is previous inventions and patent trolls – he was very reluctant in telling anyone about it and held it close to his chest.

    Interesting note:
    My grandfathers good friend (don’t know his name could be one of the people named ) wrote this song http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mairzy_Doats

    Also my grandfather had the ground floor opportunity to invest in Poloroid when it was first founded the facts are fuzzy none the less it was a missed fortune.

    My Aunt Frances I believe has one of his original typewriters – I will have find out if she has plans for its future, I first have to find her as she has since moved from Arizona after her husband, my Uncle Art died.

    Sincerely Stephen Dolenski

    • Tom Mooney says:

      Stephen,

      Thank you so much for the additional information about William A. Fowler and The TypeMusic Company. It sounds like your grandfather led an interesting life. If you find that your aunt does still have one of the original typewriters, and might be willing to donate it to the Nebraska State Historical Society, please let me know. We really appreciate you taking the time to add more historical information to our Nebraska History Blog.

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