Note: This page is under construction. There is a LOT still to be discovered by Coxhead and Varityper but this is a start, and will be updated as time permits. Unfortunately, information has been lost and misreported for over fifty years, so this will be updated as new information becomes available.

If you have any information on the Coxhead or Varityper companies please get in touch!

According to the City of New York’s Municipal Archives, the Hammond Typewriter Company “merged out of existence” on January 20, 1922. It was then reformed in Delaware immediately thereafter. Sometime before 1930, Ralph C. Coxhead purchased the Hammond company, where it had been renamed Vari-Typer.

Ralph C. Coxhead

Ralph C. Coxhead was a successful businessman at this point. Tall, California-born Coxhead, was a natural born tinkerer. A salesman of office machines, he once helped to get Hawaiian sugar growers to use mechanical calculators in place of the Chinese abacus.

Later, in New York, he and his brother Stuart set up Coxhead Corp. as an agency for German Mercedes calculators. When Mercedes exited the mechanical calculator business, Coxhead decided to put his talents to reinventing the Hammond.

A Coxhead mechanical calculator

Through deaths and bankruptcies the Hammond Typewriter Company had become Varit-typer, and was put up for sale. Coxhead purchased everything outright for $300,000, or about $7 million dollars in 2024 currency. The company would play around with the Varityper name for a number of years. First calling it simply a Coxhead, then Coxhead Vari-Typer, and finally in renaming it on May 3rd, 1947 to Varityper.

An early Coxhead branded Varityper, ca 1934

The Varityper is a curious machine in the world of typewriters, particularly electric typing and composing. Coxhead was said to have made a number of improvements to the Hammond, some say over 1,300 of them, and it held a place in the office until 1970 when the company closed for good.

It played a role in the drawn out strike of newspaper composing room employees in Chicago. The Varityper replaced newspaper type cast from hot lead into something easier to use, and faster.

What’s also notable about the Varityper is that underneath all that complex features, it is still very much a Hammond. The shuttles are notable because they were made out of metal. On some later Hammond Multiplex’s, a Varityper shuttle will work, but it may not on early models. It’s a mystery when the official change over, from rubber to metal shuttles, took place.

The Varityper became the composing machine of most advertising, news, and print offices across America. For example, later Varitypers could change the width between letters, justified margins, and increase or decrease the impression with the turn of a knob.

The style and number of shuttles expanded considerably, bringing new fonts and characters, such as a check writer!