Jewett Typewriter Company

Many people in the Des Moines area associate the Jewett name with Gilcrest Jewett Lumber, but George Jewett, a founding partner, had many other interests. In 1872, he helped found the Iowa Loan & Trust Co and before that, organized Des Moines Scale Co. He was a founder of Drake University and assisted in organizing the YMCA. But in 1888, an invention grabbed his attention: the typewriter.

The Jewett Typewriter Company sold one of the first commercially successful machines worldwide. According to the Des Moines Register, Jewett visited Europe 10 times to promote his typewriter business and his company received awards at the Chicago World’s Fair and the Paris Exposition. It was reported that the Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany owned one and the Bank of England used it when it switched from longhand.

The company began at 608 Locust but in 1906 moved to a three-story building on 3rd Street next door to Harbach Undertaking. This building was previously the Continental Biscuit Company.

Unfortunately, Jewett Typewriter had some challenges in the early 1900s, as some stockholders out East wanted to move the factory to Cleveland. Jewett Typewriter managed to hold out until about 1910 when it was purchased by Underwood Typewriter Company and fully ceased production in Iowa.