Tag Archives: typewriter

Lawyer Became Counterfeiter

W. B. Schwartz of Indianapolis, Inventor of Visible Typewriter

His fortune dissipated in an effect to perfect a typewriter which he had invented, and driven to desperation by the need of money to support an insane wife and two grown daughters, William B. Schwartz, a prominent attorney of Indianapolis, Ind., resorted to counterfeiting when his practice failed to bring in a sufficient revenue and now he is in the United States penitentiary to serve four years for counterfeiting. He is 47 years old. He arrived Friday morning with a bunch of convicts from Indianapolis, Ind. Schwartz was arrested last May and put up a pitiful pleas to obtain his freedom, but failed.

The product of Schwartz’s mold consisted chiefly of 50-cent pieces and they were the nearest perfect of any that ever came under the notice of the secret service men in Indiana. For over a year the spurious coins had worried the United States officers, both on account of their being difficult of detection and the trouble in ascertaining their source.

It was by mere chance that suspicion was directed toward Schwartz, bue [but] even then it was a year before the officers were able to obtain convicting evidence against the lawyer. In the meantime, while he had not grown reckless in putting the coins into circulation, the fear of detection had grown less and less, so that, when the officers arrested him in his office as he was bending over his desk engrossed in some legal work, the surprise was so great he gave a shriek, like a wild animal at bay.

His arrest was the culmination of all his woes, and for a moment Schwartz seemed on the verge of losing his reason. When told quietly that indisputable evidence had been obtained against him, there was little difficulty in getting the man to admit his guilt.

Coins in His Office.

A search of his office revealed a number of counterfeit coins, which it was almost impossible to distinguish from genuine. Schwartz had a method of taking away the “newness” by the aid of an electric battery. This he had fitted up at his office and he had just “finished” a run a short time before he was arrested. It was found later that he kept his molds, which were of his own workmanship, at his home where he cast the coins to be finished up at his office.

It is believed that Schwartz did not market his product in Indianapolis, but that he had dealings with large gangs of counterfeiters in other parts of the country.

At one time Schwartz was well-to-do, owned considerable property, had a good law practice and was well known in a wide circle of acquaintances. Then he became interested in typewriters. He conceived the idea of a “visible” machine and, after long labor and much expense, took out a patent and made an effort to market the product. He then found that the machine had many imperfections and drawbacks and he set about removing them. He was of a mechanical turn of mind and spent much time in his workshop. It was while thus engaged that the foundation was laid for his counterfeiting. In making patents for his typewriter he learned the art of making molds and one day one of his workmen jokingly remarked how easy it would be to make molds for counterfeiting coins. The workman showed him just how it could be done and they talked about it for a few minutes and then returned to the work in hand.

His Troubles Grew.

The typewriter business did not prosper, and about this time Schwartz’s wife became mentally deranged. He employed the best physicians he could find and sent her to sanitariums in an endeavor to cure her, and this expense, together with the losses he had sustained on his typewriter and the failure of his practice through inattention, made it necessary for him to give up his home. Still further pressed, he was forced to sell his patent, and it was not long until he did not know from one day’s end to another where the next day’s meals were coming from. It was then he turned to counterfeiting.

Schwartz’s wife is in an asylum and his daughters are crushed by the disgrace and shock of their father’s exposure. One of them said that had they known of his dire need for money they would have helped him in some way, but that he had always provided for them without complaint and that though they knew he had lost heavily in investments, they were not acquainted with his real need. – Leavenworth (Kan.) Times


“Lawyer Became Counterfeiter; In United States Prison,” Commercial Stamp Trade Journal 16 (January 1907): 7-8; digital images, Google (http://www.google.com : accessed 23 April 2014).


Couldn’t Stand Prosperity

Schwartz, W. B. - 1899-10-17COULDN’T STAND PROSPERITY

An Inventor Too Nervous to Count His New Fortune

Though excuses for all sorts of doings have been made on account of a circus and the circus parade the latest in Indianapolis is something out of the ordinary, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. A story is told of W. B. Schwartz, a lawyer of Indianapolis, who has patented a typewriter having a number of vital and valuable points, going into Fletcher’s bank with a representative of the typewriter trust. The lawyer had a certified check or draft for something like $50,000, which had been given him for his interest in the patent. The check was presented and the cashier began piling out bundles of bills. When the full amount had been placed on the desk the teller asked Mr. Schwartz to count it and see if all was right. He counted awhile, but became so nervous that he could not “check out” the supposed amount in each pile of bills, and finally pushed all back and said: “Oh, I guess it’s all right. Give me a certificate of deposit.” It was done and Mr. Schwartz left. The incident was quite amusing to patrons of the bank who happened in at the time. When asked about it Mr. Schwartz denied being excited on account of the large sum which he had just received as a result of five years’ work. He said it was the circus parade that excited him. Mr. Schwartz is a practicing attorney, living at 1130 Brookside avenue, with an office at 146 ½ East Washington street. He was born in Berlin, Holmes county, Ohio, in 1859, and after attending school at that place and at Pittsburg, Pa., went to Brazil, Ind., where he was admitted to the bar and practiced there from 1889 to 1894. He went to Indianapolis in 1895, and shortly after, on account of frequent use of a typewriting machine, became imbued with the idea of inconvenience of the machines of the day and thought that a “visible” writing machine would be the proper thing. He worked out a plan in his head and finally put it into sketches. His plans were so perfected about a year later that he applied for a patent, which was granted in August, 1896. Not long after the patent was granted, representatives of the typewriter trust began negotiations with Mr. Schwartz for the purchase of the patent. He refused all offers, but kept the trust in tow, and several conferences during the last few weeks resulted in the sale of the patent to the trust. On account of business and personal reasons Mr. Schwartz declined to give the exact amount of the purchase money, and the details of the transaction, but it is understood that he received more than $50,000 in cash and is to receive $3,000 a year until 1901 to refrain from further action connected with the invention of typewriters.

“Couldn’t Stand Prosperity,” Mexia Evening News (Mexia, Texas), 17 October 1899, p. 4, col. 6; digital image, Newspaper Archive (http://www.newspaperarchive.com : accessed 7 March 2014).

Made Him Nervous

Schwartz, W. B. - 1899-07-22MADE HIM NERVOUS

INDIANAPOLIS, July 21. – After exhausting his means in perfecting a visible line typewriter, W. B. Schwartz, an attorney of this city, yesterday called at a bank with a representative of the eastern typewriting machine combination and received $50,000 for his patent. Mr. Schwartz was so nervous when this fortune was shoved at him that he counted but little of it, pushing the bunch back and taking a certificate of deposit. He worked on his patent for several years. The sale to the trust was made yesterday. He is also to be paid $3,000 a year royalty.

“Made Him Nervous,” Fort Wayne Daily Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne, Indiana), 22 July 1899, p. 3, col. 4; digital image, Newspaper Archive (http://www.newspaperarchive.com : accessed 7 March 2014).