Glimpses of a Gourland

by | Jul 9, 2015 | Uncategorized | 10 comments

My Gourland is leaving my collection; I’m trading it for another rare portable, a Victor. Before it hit the road I took some photos to share with my readers.

One distinctive feature of the Gourland is the cutouts in the frame, presumably intended to give access and to lighten the machine. There are even two cutouts in the right and left areas just above the keyboard (hard to see in the photos).

Compare the photo above to this picture:

The mechanisms aren’t identical, but the shape of that rear cutout is a giveaway. As Greg Fudacz has observed, this 1916 patent by Jesse Alexander seems to have provided inspiration, at least, for the Gourland. Renowned typewriter inventor Charles Spiro (responsible for the Columbia index, the Bar-Lock, and the Visigraph) then worked with the Gourland typewriter company to develop the machine; he received several patents for it (none of which mention Alexander’s patent).
In the photo below, you can see two rails. The carriage slides along the back rail (with no ball bearings) and a wheel runs along the front rail. The system is actually similar to that of the Underwood. The notched rack is the tabulator rack, which tilts back when you hit the tab key.

On the right (below) you see the backspacer mechanism running next to the tabulator rack. The lever at the bottom of the picture tilts the paper shield forward. The control seen just above it is for reversing the direction of the ribbon.

To tilt the carriage back, you simply push firmly. The drawcord remains attached to the carriage.
The escapement is now revealed and can easily be cleaned.

Ad from Typewriter Topics, 1922:
One of the strangest facts about the Gourland is its afterlife in the 21st century. Someone in China decided to make a faux, decorative “typewriter” based on a photo of a Gourland (possibly mine). The name came out “Govrland.” This then morphed into “Governor’s Land” in an imitation of the imitation.  What’s next?
I think Jesse Alexander, Charles Spiro, and M. J. Gourland would have a hearty laugh!
More information on the Gourland:


  1. Ton S.

    Gourland? Never heard of it. There's such an astonishing variety of typewriters in your collection. Like really. Before you let it go, can you share where you found this Gourland?

  2. Richard P

    That most prosaic of treasure troves, eBay. Maybe 7-8 years ago.

  3. Richard P

    Yes. Thanks for reminding me of that post.

  4. x over it

    I always thought Gourlands were really cute. They look kind of like a cross between a Merz and a Moskva 1. Are they much good to type with? The design look clever, but not especially robust.

    Congratulations on your Victor!

  5. Anonymous

    Wow. Some of these typewriters are so exotic I can hardly believe they were made in America.

  6. Richard P

    This Gourland would need a deep-down cleaning and various adjustments to be in top typing condition, so I won't make a judgment about how it would have worked when it was new. The materials used are not thin or flimsy, I can say that much.

  7. Ted

    Congrats on inspiring the "craftsmen" of the Orient to such bizarre imitation, and on your new machine, can't wait to see the Victor in the twdb! :D

  8. Anonymous

    Here because of Taylor Swift😌

  9. Richard P

    I didn't realize until now that she's a typewriter lover. Good for her!


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