Oliver

    The Oliver typewriter is the invention of Reverend Thomas Oliver. Thomas Oliver was born in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada on August 1, 1852. At an early age, he became interested in mechanics. After moving to Iowa, in 1888, Reverend Thomas Oliver began to create a typing machine out of strips cut from tin cans and rubber. It was claimed he had never seen a typewriter of any kind before. After patenting several designs in the early 1890s, Reverend Oliver was able to find investors interested in his machines. With the help of investors, a brick building was leased to Oliver to manufacture his typewriter. While visiting Chicago to promote his machine, Oliver encountered a businessman who became interested in the typewriter and bought the stock held by the initial investors. Oliver received a 65% interest in the company and set out to continue development of his typewriter. 

The Oliver Typewriter Company officially opened in 1895, with headquarters in only two rooms on the ninth floor of a building in Chicago. In December 1896, manufacturing was moved from Dubuque, Iowa to a factory on a 12-acre lot in Woodstock, Illinois. Since the Oliver Typewriter Company outgrew their office space six times in ten years, construction of a new office building begun. From 1907 to 1926, 159 North Dearborn Street in Chicago served as world headquarters for the Oliver Typewriter Company. 

A minor recession from 1921 to 1922 caused a large number of customers to default on their payments resulting in the repossession of their Oliver typewriters. The board of directors voted to liquidate the Oliver Typewriter Company in 1926. In 1928, The Oliver Typewriter Company was sold to investors who formed the Oliver Typewriter Manufacturing Company Ltd. in Croydon, England. Around this time, the British company started selling licensed rebranded machines produced by various European nations. In 1958, the Byron Typewriter Company (formerly the Barlock Typewriter Company) of Nottingham, England was purchased by the British Oliver Company. The licensing ventures were ultimately unsuccessful, and in May 1959, production of all Oliver typewriters ended.

Oliver No. 1
Often regarded as the holy grail of Olivers to typewriter collectors, the model 1 was the first "visible writer" on the market. Before the Oliver was introduced, "blind writers" dominated the typewriter industry. When typing on a "blind writer", the typist must raise the platen every time he or she wants to see what was just typed. This raising of the platen was eliminated with the type towers of the Oliver, thus making it a milestone in typewriting history. 

Unfortunately, the Oliver No. 1 is one of the few Oliver typewriters I have yet to add to my collection. Of the 9 machines I have confirmed to exist, the highest serial number is 400. It is likely only 500 were made, making the model 1 one of the rarest Oliver models.

Oliver No. 2
The Oliver No. 2 was the first Oliver model produced at the factory in Woodstock, Illinois. Production of the model 2 began in December 1896 and lasted into 1901. The earliest known Oliver No. 2 is serial number 5050, indicating the Oliver Typewriter Company jumped up to 5001 with the introduction of this model. Many minor mechanical and cosmetic changes were implemented during the lifetime of the model 2. The nickel-plated finish used on the model 1 was carried over to the model 2,  but by serial number 5476, the famous olive green finish was introduced. By the end of the Oliver 2 production run at serial number 35000, it became the standard finish.   

My Oliver No. 2, serial number 29546, was probably made in 1901, the final year of Oliver No. 2 production. All later model 2 features can be seen in this machine, including the later ribbon covers and the "No. 2" decal on the paper table.

Woodstock
Woodstock #1009
At first glance, it appears to be an Oliver No. 2. But you notice the odd side handles, and then you see the paper table’s elegant decal- it reads WOODSTOCK. This machine has no correlation to the eponymous machines manufactured by the Woodstock Typewriter Company. This Woodstock was manufactured by the Oliver Typewriter Company in Woodstock, Illinois in 1898. 
The Woodstock was discussed at meetings concerning the Detroit Board of Education’s purchase of typewriters for high schools. This group of meetings, known as the Battle of Detroit, lasted from September 1898 to January 1899. A pamphlet published by the Linotype Company of Montreal, Canada covers these meetings in great detail.1 According to the pamphlet, a certain Inspector Marr, presumably a member of the Board of Education, showed the committee formed to purchase typewriters an advertisement for the Woodstock in the Fall-Winter 1898-1899 Montgomery Ward catalogue, apparently in order to question the fairness of the price at which Oliver typewriters had been offered to the Board. W. A. Waterbury, the manager of the Oliver Typewriter Company, explained that the Woodstock was “an unguaranteed, cheap machine of which nineteen were all that were ever made”. Waterbury stated, “We have a circular now in print for circulation offering $5,000 for twenty Woodstock typewriters”, reinforcing the fact only nineteen were manufactured. He also stated that the Woodstock was manufactured strictly for sale to large department stores, and all nineteen machines were sold to Montgomery Ward and Company, of Chicago. They contracted for the second grade machines which were not to be sold for under $60. The Oliver Typewriter Company stopped manufacture of the Woodstock typewriter after it had been on the market for less than ten months. It is unknown how many machines Montgomery Ward sold.
No machines were known to have survived until recently when a Woodstock with a serial number of 1009, presumably the ninth machine produced, was listed on eBay. I was so astounded that such a rare machine existed that I had to bid on it, and I won! 
After conversing with Bobbie, the eBay seller, I learned that this machine made its way into a house owned by a self-proclaimed hoarder named Jim H. near Lancaster, California. She claims Jim does not know where he acquired most of his things, but he would shop at places such as flea markets, Good Will, and auctions. The Woodstock came out of a house Jim owned for thirty years and never lived in; he used it just for storage. When Bobbie bought the machine, she placed it in her storage with initial intentions of selling it at her booth in an antique shop for $40! However, she researched the machine first, and after finding no information on this Woodstock, she listed it on eBay, figuring it would bring a couple hundred dollars.
Anyway, the machine arrived safe and sound. After examining the machine in detail, I have concluded that the Woodstock is mechanically identical to early Oliver No. 2 machines.2 The major difference between the Woodstock and the Oliver No. 2, aside from the Woodstock branding, is the base. The Woodstock base has altered side handles and, rather than curving inward, the back of the base mirrors the curves made by the front of the base. The base is currently painted black, although it shows runs and has been touched up in a few places. Even the type guards have been painted black, some of which has chipped off, revealing a dark yellow color. The raised parts of the side panels are nickel-plated, while the backgrounds are black. 
In my opinion, the Woodstock does not appear to be a second grade machine as W.A. Waterbury had described. I am hard-pressed to find a reason to render the Woodstock a cheaper Oliver No. 2 counterpart. The advertisement in the catalogue even stated that the Woodstock was “complete in a highly finished metal case with handle”. Unfortunately, such a case has yet to resurface. One can only hope a Woodstock in the original case may one day be discovered.

1. The Linotype Company manufactured Oliver machines for Canada (including the Canadian Oliver No. 3) and South America. 
2. There are several distinct styles of the Oliver No. 2 I can identify. The earliest style of Oliver No. 2 had round holes in the ribbon spool    covers, the “Open O” logo on the side panels, a cutout of the base under the keyboard, a plastic key comb, curved metal springs for the spacing mechanism, a pivoting bearing for the shifting mechanism, and thinner key mounts. This style shows the 1894, 1895, and 1896 patent dates. I believe The “Open O” logo was introduced when the 1898 patent date was added. This is the style to which the Woodstock is most related. Later, the 1891 patent was listed on the machines. When this occurred, the second to last version of Oliver No. 2 was introduced. This style was given later style ribbon spool covers with elongated holes, a solid base under the keyboard, a metal key comb, coil springs for the spacing mechanism (including other minor mechanical differences), a simpler wheel bearing for the shifting mechanism, and wider key mounts. The last variation simply added a model number on the paper table. I am still narrowing down between which serial numbers these variations were put into effect.
Sources:

Oliver No. 3
After the Oliver No. 2 is naturally the Oliver No. 3. Bearing a very similar resemblance to the previous model, it is also nearly identical mechanically. Left and right margin release keys were introduced, as well as a thicker base. From 1901 to March 1907, the model 3 was produced from serial number 35001 to 183000.  
Oliver No. 3 #121426
This Oliver No. 3, serial number 121426, has a medical keyboard. It has the same letter layout, however, four of the symbols above some keys are pharmaceutical.
Oliver No. 3 #164373
This is the second Oliver I have ever owned; serial number 164373.

Oliver Monopol-Stolzenberg & Stolzenberg
The Oliver typewriter was rebranded for sale by a German company called Fabrik Stolzenberg. During production of the Oliver No. 2, this company marketed the Oliver model 2 as the Monopol-Stolzenberg. I know of only one existing model 2 branded as the Monopol-Stolzenberg; it is mechanically identical to the standard Oliver 2 aside from the German "QWERTZ" keyboard. The Oliver Monopol-Stolzenberg name continued on into the Oliver No. 3 machines. I know of two existing Oliver No. 3 machines with the Monopol-Stolzenberg name; my machine, which was sold in the Netherlands (serial number 36215), and the other machine (serial number 55756). Both of these machines are mechanically identical to an Oliver No. 3, including a "QWERTY" keyboard. Eventually, the "Monopol" part of the name was dropped and the machines were sold under the name Oliver Stolzenberg, all of which have "QWERTZ" keyboards. The earliest serial number of an Oliver Stolzenberg is 89075.

My Oliver Monopol-Stolzenberg (serial number 36215) unusually has no decal on the paper table.   
Oliver Stolzenberg #175026
My Oliver Stolzenberg has the serial number 175026.

Oliver No. 4
Beginning with the Oliver No. 4, all even-numbered Oliver models up to the Oliver No. 16 were exported versions of their odd-numbered predecessors. The even-numbered machines are nearly identical to their odd-numbered counterparts with the exception of four additional keys and a wider base. The four additional keys were for accents and other characters in foreign languages. These additional characters were needed because these machines were exported to various European countries.  Far fewer exported models were made than their odd-numbered counterparts. Up to and including the Oliver No. 10, the even-numbered Olivers follow a different serial number scheme; models 4, 6, and 8 have a D prefix while the model 10 has an R prefix. So little seems to be known on these export models in general, especially compared to the amount of information on standard odd-numbered machines. Because of this, no one has a list of the export serial number scheme or what years correlate to what number. I know only from what machines are known to exist. I assume the Oliver No. 4 would have started with D001, and I believe it was introduced in 1904, three years after the Oliver No. 3 was introduced. The earliest Oliver 4 in existence is D386. The latest serial number of Oliver No. 4 in existence is D1425. The earliest Oliver No. 6 I know to exist is my machine, serial number D4301. Therefore, somewhere between D1425 and D4301 they stopped producing the model 4 and introduced the model 6, most likely in March 1907.
Oliver No. 4 #D1379
My Oliver No. 4 is serial number D1379.

Oliver No. 5
The Oliver No. 5 in the next standard model after the Oliver No. 3. It very different from previous models in shape and design. Numerous improvements were introduced throughout the model 5's life span. The model 5 ran from serial number 183001 to 494000, and from March 1907 to 1914. Between serial numbers 
187671 and 202692 the bell clap was redesigned. At serial number 212000 the tabulator and simple pencil carrier was introduced (the pencil was held by a  friction-fit carrier prior to this update). Between serial numbers 243534 and 246891 the ribbon reverse knob and patent date plaques were changed (at this point they are no longer entirely nickel-plated). At 280000 the backspacer was introduced. The nickel-plated brass type guards were changed to nickel-plated steel type guards between serial numbers 371604 and 386425. Somewhere between 386425 and 389421 the shifting mechanism was updated. The Oliver No. 5 also introduced Printype- a typeface designed to mimic actual book print. Machines given this typeface have paper tables that read "The Printype Oliver - Pat. Nov. 5, 1912".
Oliver No. 5 #371604
This Oliver No. 5 has the serial number 371604.
Oliver No. 5 #389421
This Oliver No. 5 has the serial number 389421. It is the earliest Oliver No. 5 I have documented with the later shifting mechanism.

Oliver No. 6
Following the Oliver No. 4 in the export series is the Oliver No. 6 (for more details on the export models, see Oliver No. 4). The Oliver No. 6 is the same as the model 5 except with four more keys and a wider base. All changes made throughout production of the Oliver No. 5 were respectively made to the model 6. I have the two earliest Oliver No. 6 machines I know to exist- serial numbers D4301 and D4756. The highest serial number of an Oliver 6 I know to exist is D20511. 
Oliver No. 6 #D4301
Being the earliest Oliver 6 known to exist, D4301 has the tabulator and earlier ribbon reverse and patent date plaques. Therefore, D4301 would correspond to an Oliver No. 5 with the same features between serial numbers 212000 and 245354. It was given the French "AZERTY" keyboard.
Oliver No. 6 #D4756
My Oliver No. 6 with serial number D4756 is the second earliest model 6 known to exist. It appears to carry the same features as D4301, with the exception that this machine has a German "QWERTZ" keyboard.

Oliver No. 7
Following the model 5, the next model released was the Oliver No. 7. It was given a redesigned base which wraps around the keyboard. It was only manufactured from 1914 to 1915, with serial numbers ranging from 494001 to 551000. From a distance one could easily mistake it for an Oliver No. 9, but the model 7 continues with the single set of shift keys to the left of the keyboard. The left margin release key was moved to the right of the keyboard and the right margin release key is above the keyboard, to the left of the tab key.
Oliver No. 7 #509570
My Oliver No. 7, serial number 509570, has its original ribbon covers, which are unique to this model only.

Oliver No. 8
The next exported model after the Oliver 6 is the Oliver No. 8. It is mechanically identical to the model 7 in every way aside from a wider base which accommodates four additional keys. Since relatively few Oliver 7s were made, especially when compared to the models 5 and 9, it is to be expected that even fewer Oliver No. 8 machines were produced, and the data shows. For the longest time I could not even find any evidence a model 8 was manufactured. Since they were making other exported models, I assumed an Oliver 8 must have been made. I have managed to round up a list of only five existing machines worldwide, all of which are within 200 serial numbers of each other. The earliest model 8 is D31245 with the latest being D31445. The earliest Oliver No. 8 is over 10000 serial numbers higher than the latest Oliver No. 6.
Oliver No. 8 #D31283
My Oliver No. 8, serial number D31283, has a French "AZERTY" keyboard. It does not have its original carriage, but it does have an Oliver 8 carriage. The serial number of the carriage is D31278, which is only five numbers before the number of the machine.

 Oliver No. 9
From 1915 to 1922, the Oliver Typewriter Company managed to produce nearly half a million Oliver No. 9 machines, making this model the most common Oliver by far. Serial numbers run from 551000 to 1000000. The most noticeable difference between the model 7 and model 9 is the introduction of shift keys on both sides of the keyboard.
Oliver No. 9 #877799
My very first Oliver typewriter is this Oliver No. 9, serial number 877799. 
Oliver No. 9 #A900380X
This Oliver No. 9 has the serial number A900380X. It has an alternate keyboard, denoted by the A prefix in the serial number. If you look any Oliver 3, 5, or 7, from left to right, the keys coming out of the keyboard go from top to bottom to middle. The alternate keyboard goes from top to middle to bottom. After this machine, the next example of this keyboard I could find is serial number A928771X. All other A-prefixed numbers are above 980000, and very few machines above 980000 have the standard keyboard. The only two machines I know to exist with an X suffix are the ones listed above. I do not know if there is any correlation to the keyboard or placement of the numbers in the serial number scheme. The only other odd feature about A900380X is that it has flat-cut side handles with two screws in each handle. Side handles are only ever cut like this if a bracket to support a wide carriage is installed. However, there are no brackets nor a wide carriage on this machine, perhaps a theory as to why there is an X suffix.

Oliver No. L-10
The Oliver No. L-10 is simply the nickel-plated version of the Oliver No. 9. (I know of 1 olive green Oliver No. L-10- why it was not nickel-plated like the other L-10 machines is beyond me.) They are mechanically identical to the model 9 and follow the same serial numbers. For whatever reason, the Oliver Typewriter Company decided to create a new model number for the Latin market, hence the L in the model number. Unlike previous models, you will never find a nickel-plated Oliver No. 9. They only nickel-plated the model 9 as the Oliver No. L-10 and in Argentina (to avoid royalty payments on the Oliver name) the Revilo No. 9 (the model 5 was also nickel-plated as the Revilo No. 5 for sale in Argentina). I know of  1 Revilo No. 9 and 3 Revilo No. 5 machines. Since so many Oliver No. 9 machines were manufactured, a good number of Oliver No. L-10 machines were produced. They are very common in Latin America today and are frequently listed on Mercado Libre, the Mexican version of eBay.
My Oliver No. L-10 has the serial number 923370. All of these machines were given either a standard gold decal on the front or a red plaque, identifying the Mexican distributor and model number. The gold decal seems to have worn off of nearly every machine, including mine.

Remodelled Oliver
At one point during the Oliver Typewriter Manufacturing Company's existence in England, they refurbished Oliver No. 9 machines. These machines were repainted to look like the Oliver No. 11- black with gold pinstriping. Sometimes the keys were swapped out, sometimes they were left the same. The decals seem to be all over the place. They probably put on whatever was left in stock. Only two of the five machines I have confirmed to have been remodelled by the Oliver Typewriter Manufacturing Company actually say "remodelled" on the machine. Sometimes they swapped out the keys for round keys to match the model 11. On true remodelled machines, the serial number was rewritten to a new series with an RM prefix, leaving no trace of an Oliver 9 serial number.
My RM Oliver has the serial number RM10642. Of the four other RM machines, I have only recorded one other serial number, RM10305. It is possible they started at RM10001. As stated above, only two of the five RM machines known actually say "remodelled". My machine has it right on the base of the machine. The other RM Oliver with the word "remodelled" on it has it above the keyboard.

Oliver No. 10
After the Oliver No. 8, the next exported model is the Oliver No. 10. It is the most common export model, since the model 9 is the most common odd-numbered model. As with all export models, the only difference between the 10 and 9 is the wider base which allows for four additional keys. Most Oliver No. 10 machines were exported to France and England. The model 10 continues with the export serial number scheme, but with an R prefix instead of D. The earliest known Oliver No. 10 is serial number R41001 and the latest is R60724.
My Oliver No. 10 has the serial number R51842. It has a Dutch keyboard, which has a "QWERTY" layout but with additional Dutch characters.

Oliver No. 11
Nicknamed the "Quiet Speedster", the Oliver No. 11 took on whole new design compared to its predecessors. The side handles were scrapped and replaced with more-than-inconvenient side cutouts to lift the machine. A new paint job replaced the iconic olive green with a sleek black trimmed with gold pinstriping. The Oliver logo was redesigned using thinner lettering. From 1922 to the end of the American Oliver Typewriter Company, the model 11 was produced running from serial numbers 1000001 to 1050000. Some serial numbers have a B prefix, and I first suspected it was similar to the A prefix seen on some Oliver 9 machines. But the B prefix seems to be random and it is a 50/50 change of whether the Oliver 11 received the standard or alternate keyboard seen on some Oliver No. 9 machines.  
My Oliver No. 11 has the serial number B1025192. It was given a wide carriage.

Oliver Nos. L-12 & L-13
Just as the Oliver No. L-10 is the nickel-plated version of the Oliver No. 9, the Oliver No. L-12 and L-13 are the nickel-plated versions of the Oliver No. 11. The Oliver No. L-12 and L-13 follow the Oliver No. 11 serial number scheme. I have confirmed four Oliver No. L-12 and two Oliver No. L-13 machines in existence. The difference between the two models is the distributor. The Oliver No. L-12 was marketed by William A. Parker, the general agent of the Oliver Typewriter in the City of Mexico and surrounding areas. The Oliver No. L-13 was marketed by Martinez and Rubio.
Oliver No. L-12 #B1015932
My Oliver No. L-12 has the serial number B1015932. The original composite keys have been replaced with ring-and-glass keys. I have seen this many times on Oliver machines from Latin America.

Oliver No. 12
The Oliver No. 12 was the last export model manufactured in the United States. It is identical to the Oliver 11 except it has a wider base which allows for four additional keys. The Oliver No. 12 unusually does not follow the export serial number scheme, but rather the standard Oliver No. 11 serial numbers. I only know of three existing models.
My Oliver No. 12 has the serial number 1021181.

Oliver Nos. 15 and 16
When the Oliver Typewriter Manufacturing Company opened in England in 1928, they introduced the Oliver Nos. 15 and 16. These machines were the first true "British Oliver" machines, produced until 1933. The model 16 was the same as the model 15 except for a wider base which allowed for four additional keys. These Oliver models 15 and 16 were painted gloss black. The Oliver No. 16 is, as usual, rarer than the model 15. I have confirmed three Oliver No. 16 machines in existence. Many lists indicate a serial number range  for the Oliver No. 15 of LA001 to LA7000. However, I have never heard of a serial number with an LA prefix. I have documented L and LC prefixes for the model 15 and for the model 16 R prefixes.
Oliver No. 16 #R1188My Oliver No. 16 has the serial number R1188.

Oliver No. 15 (Second Generation)
In 1939, the British Government requested orders of the Oliver 15 (and theoretically the Oliver 16, but I have yet to find any second generation Oliver No. 16 machines) to be used during WWII. These machines were given a black crinkle finish (sometimes referred to as a "war finish") and round black composite keys. It is hard to tell if the serial numbers started over or not, due to lack of information. However, they did start using new prefixes. The earliest Oliver 15 of this era is serial number CL6947. I have documented CS prefixes for numbers in the 15000s and by the 19000s a CT prefix was being used. AT 20000 an EA prefix was introduced, most likely towards the end of 1939. The highest serial number I have documented is EA23943. After that I continue to a list from various sources (from the Typewriter Serial Number Database). In 1940, the prefix changed to EB at 24750; EC28350 in 1941; ED31800 in 1942; EE34050 in 1943; EF34151 in 1944; EG34260 in 1945; EH34345 in 1946; and EH34390 in 1947.
Oliver No. 15 #CS15326
My Oliver No. 15 has the serial number CS15326. It has a wide "C-size" carriage.