Comptometers were rather expensive machines, and few students could afford to have their
own machine to practise on. They cost $125 in 1903 and about $300 in the 1930s, both of which
are equivalent to about $4000 today. The Comptometer Educator solves this problem. It is a small dummy
machine, with just 5 columns of 5 buttons. It contains no mechanism and no register. The buttons
do nothing, except spring back up when released. This allowed a student to practise the fingerings
and typing the numbers by feel alone. Operators who touch-type generally used only the first five rows
(using two keypresses to enter any digit larger than 5), so the Educator only has five rows of buttons.
It was probably made in the late 1940 or early 1950s, and comes in a nice box and with a booklet of exercises.
This Comptometer Educator belonged to Elma Irene Leppioja from Duluth, Minnesota. She has written her name and address on the box and in the booklet, and carved her first name on the machine itself. She was born in 1934.
I have now acquired a Comptometer Educator in perfect condition, and its pristine booklet can be seen in the Books section.
Finger rings like this one were awarded to operators who performed exceptionally well during
training at a Comptometer school, or during their later employment.
It is marked OB10K, which means that this ring is made of 10 karat gold. OB is the maker's mark, which stands for Ostby & Barton, a reknowned jeweller's specialising in rings. The ring depicts a shield with the four arithmetic operators on it, and the word Comptometer along its top.
These Comptometer badges were probably awarded to a Comptometer operators for the same reason as the Comptometer finger ring above - exceptional achievement during training at a Comptometer school, or during their later employment.
This second badge has an extra pin attached to it by chain, which seems to have been added later by the original owner to make sure it will not accidentally come loose and be lost. This shows just how highly valued the badge was.
This third badge is very small, similar in design to the decoration on the gold ring above. Like the previous badge it has a safety chain, but this is original rather than a later addition. The extra pin on the chain is in the shape of the letter C.
This Comptometer badge is in the shape of a flag or pennant. It was made by the Greenduck Metal Stamping Company, Chicago.
This tiny Comptometer badge is in the shape of a shield. It was made by the Greenduck Metal Stamping Company, Chicago.
This badge is for the Comptometer Training School. It was made by Tove & Co. Ltd, London.
Comptometer Hat pin
This is a hat pin, and on its head is a large comptometer shield. It was made by the Greenduck Metal Stamping Company, Chicago.
This is an embroidered patch which presumably was once part of a uniform or jacket. It is in the shape of the Comptometer shield.
This is a medal awarded to George D. Lane, the district manager for Washington D.C.. He also wrote the 1934 booklet "Comptometer Peg-board Methods". It is not clear when the medal was made, but as it depicts the model H or J, it presumably dates from the period 1920-1934.
Comptometer School Diploma
This Comptometer School Diploma was awarded in July 1927 to Estelle Miller of Buffalo N.Y. for completing the training at the Buffalo Comptometer School. An interesting feature of the diploma is that it explicitly states that it entitles the bearer to the services and privileges of any Felt & Tarrant Comptometer school, which presumably means that anywhere in the US the local Comptometer school can help find a job placement.
Comptometer School Certificate
This Comptometer School Certificate was awarded in May 1947 to Jean Moore for completing the training at the Comptometer School in Richmond Virginia. It is a far less elaborate affair than the diploma above, and about the size of a credit card so it is easy to carry along to a job interview.
Comptometer Oil Can
For a while Comptometers were sold with this small oil can so that the operator could keep it in good condition. The lid screws tight and has a pick inside it for oiling small parts. The rim around the spout is marked "MADE IN U.S.A.", the sides say "COMPTOMETER", and the bottom is marked "PAT.FEB.18.1896". This refers to patent US 554,941 by John Lines which describes the oil can. The most innovative part is that the bottom and sides are pressed from one piece of metal so that there is no seam at the bottom for the oil to leak out of.
Felt & Tarrant Mfg. Co.
Form 265, 453
This is an unused bottle of non-gumming Comptometer oil. Amazingly, the bottle's label has its own Form number. It comes in a cylindrical storage box, which is made of cardboard but with a metal base, rim and screw top. The bottom is stamped with the words "Improved Mailing Case Co / Makers / New York". The box has a label with instructions for oiling the model H, F, and C, which read as follows:
DIRECTIONS FOR USE
The Controlled Key Zero-Signal Comptometer, Model H
Copyright, November, 1919, by Felt & Tarrant Mfg. Co.
If the machine is used only once or twice a week, oil once every three months. If used regularly eight hours a day by a rapid operator, oil each Monday morning.
1. Set the machine on a level desk and put three drops of oil in each oil hole back of the 9 keys.
2. Clear machine; strike 8-key in the units column. Put eight or ten drops of oil in the oil hole under the 1 key in that column; also in the oil hole in the face-plate between the units and tens columns below where the answer shows, after pressing back the spring that closes the oil hole. Operate the 9-key twenty or thirty times.
Clear machine; Set up 8 on the register in the tens column. Put eight or ten drops of oil in the oil hole under the 1 key in the tens column; then in the oil hole in the face-plate between the tens and hundreds column. Operate the 90-key twenty or thirty times. Repeat for each column.
3. Pull forward the zero crank and put three drops of oil in each hole on the right side of the key plate near the front and work zero crank back and forth. Then with crank in normal or rearward position put another drop of oil in the rear one of the two holes.
The Controlled Key Duplex Comptometer, Model F
Copyright, 1916, by Felt & Tarrant Mfg. Co.
If used only an hour or two a week, oil once every three months. If used regularly eight hours a day by a rapid operator, oil on the first and fifteenth days of each month, except see Note in the following paragraph.
1. Set the machine on a level desk and put a drop of oil on the release key stem and then put three drops of oil in each oil hole back of the 9 keys.
Note:- Pay special attention to the three holes nearest the release key on the right; also the three holes nearest the left side of the machine. These six holes should have a little oil once a week.
2. Cancel. Strike the 8-key in the units column. Put eight or ten drops of oil in the oil hole under the 1 key in that column; also in the oil hole in the face plate between the units and tens columns below where the answer shows, after pressing back the spring that closes the oil hole. Operate the 9-key twenty or thirty times.
Cancel. Set up 8 on the register in the tens column. Put eight or ten drops of oil in the hole under the 1 key in the tens column; then in the oil hole in the face plate between the tens and hundreds columns. Operate the 90-key twenty or thirty times. And so on across the machine.
The Duplex Comptometer, Model C which has oiler tubes in the front
If used only once or twice a week, oil once every three months. If used regularly 8 hours a day by a rapid operator, oil on the first and fifteenth days of each month.
1. Set the machine on a level desk and put three drops of oil in each one of the holes near the row of 9-keys and in the hole near the 6-key.
2. Set up 8's on the register and then put three drops of oil in each of the oil holes under the row of 1-keys.
3. Put three drops of oil in each of the oil holes just under where the answer shows.
Remember that unless the Comptometer is regularly and properly oiled, it will work hard and will not last; but it would be better not to oil at all than to use an oil that will gum up on delicate mechanism.
Form 265 Printed in U.S.A.
Box of Comptometer Playing Cards
This is a box with two packs of cards. The back design on the red pack depicts the final mechanical model, the 3D11 from 1950. The blue pack shows the model 992 which is the equivalent electrical model.
120mm × 172mm
This is a photographic print which has been touched up in preparation for being printed in a newspaper article. It depicts a woman behind a model F comptometer, and the background has been inked black, some folds on her blouse have been accentuated with black lines, and some white lines have been drawn along the edges of the Comptometer. On the back of the photo is the text "Genevievs Deasy, Winner World Record Comptometer". This is the same Genevive Deasy who is mentioned on page 18 of the February 1927 issue of Comptometer News (Vol. 1 No. 2) as being in charge of the Comptometer Bureau of the Southern Pacific Company. The back of the photo also says "from J J Morris[?], 65 Market St., San Francisco", which is the address of the Southern Pacific Railway Company. The company moved into that building in 1917. I do not know which newspaper used this photo and I have not been able to locate it in any online archives.
120mm × 172mm
This is a set of photographs intended for use in promotional material. They were mostly made in Italy. The first 5 photographs show a Comptometer 992, a pegboard, and special furniture for the Comptometer, and feature a woman demonstrating their use.
The remaining photographs show the Comptometer being used at various companies in Italy. They mostly feature the Super Totalizer version of the model M. It is possible that there was an Italian assembly plant that specialised in making the model M Super Totalizer.
Share certificate Felt and Tarrant Manufacturing Company
303mm × 201mm
Share certificate Comptometer Corporation
305mm × 204mm
Comptometer Reunion Souvenir Programme (PDF, 1.49 MB)
Felt & Tarrant Ltd.
126mm × 202mm
A reunion was held for British Comptometer operators on 18th April 1951 in Middlesborough.
This is the programme for that occasion. The evening's entertainment was Jos Q. Atkinson and
his Broadcasting Sextet, comedian Norman Laughlin, the tenor Robert H. Gibson, the magician
Paxton Lynn ("The genial Wizard"), songs at the piano by Vince Gilligan, and ended
with some community singing.
Note that the reunion was held in several locations and dates. There are pictures online of a similar reunion programme for the 19th and 20th of April in Newcastle-on-Tyne: photo 1, photo 2.
Comptometer Reunion Programme
Felt & Tarrant Ltd.
4-page folded card
125mm × 133mm
The 9th annual reunion for British Comptometer operators was held on 5th October 1953 in Birmingham. This is the invitation and programme for that occasion. The evening's entertainment had music by Vernon Adcock & his Aristocrats, comedy by Jon Pertwee (best known for becoming the third Doctor in Doctor Who, he was a popular comedian before that), singing by John McHugh (tenor), mime by Ross & Howitt, more comedy by Billy Maynard (Bill Maynard is now also better known as an actor than a comedian), and ended with some community singing.
Comptometer Medley (PDF, 14.3 MB)
Felt & Tarrant Ltd.
32 page stapled magazine
141mm × 208mm
Comptometer Medley is a magazine similar to Comptometer News. It
was intended for British Comptometer operators, and appeared once a year after World War II. It contains
many photos taken at the previous year's annual Comptometer Reunions. Some of the stage performers mentioned
are Rita Williams (singer), Saveen (ventriloquist), Harry Locke (comedian/actor), Jon Pertwee (comedian/actor),
Arthur Askey (comedian), and Beryl Reid (comedian/actor).
It came with its original envelope, which was addressed to Miss Z. D. Hodgson, and dated 29 May 1953.
© Copyright 2015-2018 Jaap Scherphuis, mechcalc a t jaapsch d o t net.