Throwback Thursday: A Couple of Older Braille Writers

It is unfortunate but we actually know much too little about our large collection of European braillewriters.  Case in point the St. Dunstan’s Braille Writer, made in Croydon England by Redwing Ltd., a former aircraft company.  We just bought a second example and in the course of cataloging it, I noticed that it is a direct knock-off of the original Picht from Germany.  Put them side by side and you’ll see what I mean.  The one we had was dated 1948 but with nothing to back that up.  Look on the web and… nada.  But by widening my search a bit I found this.


It is cool because Sir Ian Fraser, the head of St. Dunstan’s--which was a rehabilitation center for blinded British and Allied servicemen and women--freely admits it is “merely a copy.”   By the way, we also have several of the Stainsby Waynes in our collection.  More about that later.


St. Dunstan's Review, April 1949, No. 362, Vol XXXII

St. Dunstan's Braille Machines

The old Stainsby- Wayne is a faithful friend. Most St. Dunstaners learnt their braille

with its help. But it writes downwards, so that you cannot read whatever you have written

without taking the paper out. I remember, in my father's office forty years ago, an old

Yost typewriter which wrote upside down, and you had to turn the carriage on its back

to read what you had typed. No typist would thank you for a machine like that nowadays,

but we are so very conservative, especially blind people, and we stick to the Stainsby
probably because we have got used to it. However, now we have introduced a new St. Dunstan's

Braille Writer. It writes upwards and you can feel what you have written immediately.

It only writes on one side of the paper, but normally this does not matter. Paper is cheap

enough. For the business man who wants a machine on his desk, or for the letter or note

writer, it is a great improvement. New St. Dunstaners will be taught on it, and will qualify

for it if they need it when they leave. St. Dunstaners who have left can apply for it, and

if it makes a contribution to their business, or enjoyment of life, they can have one. The

keyboard is different to the Stainsby and a little confusing at first, but it will soon be learnt

by a keen braillist. Lessons can be arranged at Brighton or Blackpool for those who want

to qualify for it, and take a test when they are on their annual vacation there. No country

in the world uses a machine which writes upside down, except ours. The new machine

is not original. It is merely a copy of one of the best and simplest which has stood the

test of time. It is light and well-made. I recommend it to anyone who really makes use

of braille writing and is not too old to learn a slightly new technique for the fingering.





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