Q: I'd like to know more about this old typewriter. It's labeled "The Oliver, Standard Visible Writer, 3." Can you tell me how old it is and what it's worth?
A: Typewriters were first sold in 1874. The type bars hit the back of the platen, so the print wasn't visible as it was being typed. Thomas Oliver, a Methodist minister from Monticello, Iowa, invented a "visible print" typewriter with type bars that hit the front of the platen, allowing the typist to see the letters as they were typed. He was issued a patent for a "type-writer" in 1891. The Oliver Typewriting Co. was incorporated in Chicago 1895. The Oliver No. 3 was made from 1898 until March 1907. Early typewriters didn't include keys for lower-case letters or numbers. Oliver typewriters were sold in stores, by door-to-door salesmen, and through catalogs. The company went out of business in 1928 and its assets were bought by the British Oliver Typewriter Mfg. Co. of Croyden, England. Oliver typewriters were made until 1959. Early typewriters sold for as much as $100, a small fortune at the time, but they could also be bought by paying as little as $5 per month. Millions of Oliver typewriters were made. The first model is rarely found. Value of your typewriter: about $200.