Cincinnati’s Typewriter Row

by | Oct 13, 2010 | Spitzfaden's | 11 comments

Update: Are you looking for a place to buy a classic typewriter in Cincinnati? Check out Urban Legend Typewriters. I personally refurbish all the typewriters for sale there, and also offer typewriter repair services. All sales and service benefit the nonprofit WordPlay Cincy. Questions? Email me at polt@xavier.edu. —Richard Polt

The Algin Office Equipment Company — formerly known as Elgin, but some upstart Elgin Corporation sued them and forced the change a few years ago — boasts six stories of new and used officeana, mostly furniture. They’ve given me a tour by freight elevator.

 In the old days, a whole wall used to be filled with typewriters, and the third floor of the building was devoted to typewriter service. I recently (2018) was sent these old photos of Elgin by a friend.
A Corona #3 sits quietly in Algin’s window display, a reminder of former times, watching the traffic go by.

Here’s the Ohio Book Store, a wonderland. In addition to the four stories you can see here, there’s a basement where they do bookbinding.

Click this photo to zoom in on their storefront:

Polinsky’s is another office furniture store that used to sell typewriters. Online information says they’re still located at 210 E. 9th, around the corner from Main Street, but if so, they’re well hidden except for this old sign in an alley. (Main Street is full of faded signs painted on brick walls.)

I half expected to find a typewriter amidst this alley junk. No — only an old catalogue of neckties.

The Player Piano Shop: how many cities can boast one of these?

The Waltz sign is a reminder of a business that has now moved to the suburbs. Since the late 19th century, the company has been a major office machine dealer and repair center. 

Founder F.C. Waltz is responsible for one of the very few typewriter inventions that have come from Cincinnati: a “triple typewriter” combining three Smith Premiers, used for typing multiple copies of tags used in the shoemaking industry.

The Hathaway Stamp Company has been here since 1901. They make rubber stamps and labeling devices. Behind them is Spitzfaden’s Office Supplies, a newcomer (since 1956).

On the south side of Spitzfaden’s are the former Bay Horse Cafe (“cafe” in Cincinnati means bar) and the Orient, a little Chinese-plus restaurant that serves a mean pad thai.

Would you like to go into Spitzfaden’s?

OK, then.

Paperless office, shmaperless office…

Payroll Tablets, Employee’s Attendance Record, Purchase Requisition, Treasurer’s Warrant, Bill of Sale … we don’t need no stinkin’ apps, we’ve got forms.

You are now approaching the typewriter and adding machine ribbon corner …

The mysterious drawers …

… open to reveal their treasure.

Read more about Spitzfaden’s in this post by Robert Messenger and this one (including a history of the company).


  1. notagain

    I may have to make a pilgrimage to Spitzfaden.

  2. Duffy Moon

    Oh, you are such a tease!
    I was actually IN Cinci on Monday – the Moon Family made a trip to the Union Station/Museum complex (great time had by all, yada yada). I desperately wanted to make a side-trip to Spitzfadens, but time just wouldn't allow it.

    That sound you hear is me kicking myself (or perhaps its the rending of garments, the gnashing of teeth?).

  3. Duffy Moon

    Okay, I looked again. Now I'm somehow kicking myself with BOTH feet.

    Love the photo tour, Richard.

  4. Elizabeth H.

    Ooh…just finally had time to sit down and look through this. Really enjoyed the tour! Spitzfaden's looks like my kind of place. And you gotta love those old brick stores with painted-on signs that have been there for ages. You just don't see many of those out in the Pacific Northwest. Miss 'em.

    Also, that triple typewriter? Wild. I'd never heard of such a thing.

  5. David 9.ai

    Gorgeous tour ! thank you

  6. Adwoa

    Great post! I like photo essays, and this one is very well done. I was beginning to forget what downtown USA looked like; certainly far different from downtown Switzerland.

    The homey look of Spitzfaden's is something I didn't even know I had missed… old-fashioned wooden shelves overflowing with paper goodness and handwritten labels all over. Now I'm combing our phone book for a similarly old, independent "papeterie" where I might unearth some long-forgotten typewriter treasures… tall order, though.

  7. Anonymous

    Interesting fact about Mr. Waltz (of the currently named Waltz Business Solutions). Who knew there was a hybrid typewriter/copier?? Waltz sure has changed with the times!

  8. jimmiemach

    Did I miss Peter Paul? They were an Olympia dealer just down the street from Waltz who also was an Olympia dealer. I was there rep from Olympia at the time….?? 1980 ish……. without checking my notes. To this day I don't know how that happened. Olympia dealers usually had assigned territories and never that close. Don't think that didn't make my job very intereating…….?? somehow I got it to work.

  9. Richard P

    Peter Paul is still in business, and they still repair typewriters. But they have moved away from Main Street.

  10. DoHaeng Michael Kitchen

    From 1998 to 2001, I worked for a Volk Corporation in Farmington Hills, MI. The company purchased Hathaway Stamp Company back then, and a few of the Volk employees moved down there. This is the first photo I've seen of the place.

  11. Richard P

    What a coincidence! It is a neat little business.


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