Good post Andrew....another eye opener.
In 'white collar' clerks stood 12 hours a day at a slanted desk, they wrote with a business script, similar to Palmer. Speed and clarity of the script was what they were paid for.
At first the middle class paid to send their boys to HS, so they could get a job as a Clerk.....and the HS was much more intensive than today's pale shadow of education.
Then more was required of Clerks, especially if one wanted to be promoted to the good jobs.
There were Business collages if you were fast you could get though in 6 weeks if not 12 weeks, and you were paying by the week. HS was not enough anymore.
There were many learn at home books, that taught business script.
Spenserian was for the upper class to show off with............or to sign a document. ...that didn't have a carbon. Only a Boss had a desk........in everyone knew, a clerk would goof off, if he actually sat down at the job.
At first, one had a double sided carbon, where one kept the original, which had a mirror copy on the back, proving you made the copy you mailed. So even then, somewhat rigid nibs were needed for carbon copies. Not Spenserian.
In the late 1860's single sided carbon paper came in. The RR's train orders were one original and 5 carbon copies. The Station Agent/Manager got the last & least readable copy.
The original was given to the $5.00 a day Captain of the Train, while checking 'clocks', the Conductor. The Station Agent/Manager always had a spare good RR pocket watch to give to the Engineer or Conductor should their watch be off. The RR company paid for the repair. Everyone working for the RR from track layer, boiler maker, and up, had a good pocket watch...if he'd fallen so low and sold his, he'd not get a job.
The Conductor was much more than the ticket puncher. He'd worked his way up from the tracks, to brakeman running up and down the roof of the train in all weathers, so was tough. He once welded the 'Staff of Ignorance'. Beating Hobos who hadn't paid the much lower Hobo price. The 'Staff of Ignorance' was used to give leverage when applying the brake wheels, or testing the wagon wheels when the train stopped.They got copy 4&5. The Conductor worked his way from the Freight Trains to the Passenger trains...........and was the Captain of the Train.
Eagle Eyes, the engineer was paid $4.00. He and his apprentice, the fireman....who was never like Hollywood shows an old back. They worked their way up out of the yard. They got the second and third copies. There was always a ledge and a railing along the locomotive. The fireman was in charge of oiling the cylinders, with hot lard or tallow while the train was under way....in blizzards too.
No Engineer could take a run anywhere, with out having done an orientation run with another engineer. That house, that rock, that tree. He had to know where to slow down, and where to speed up and how much. One didn't want to de-rail nor run into another train. One had to be on time.
The fireman, had worked his way up to having driven locomotives in the yard, so was a true apprentice engineer. If I was to direct a Western....I'd have an Eagle Eyes pointing out a marker and going faster or slower, as the stunt man goes out to oil the cylinders.
There was western union and the rail roads for telegraphing.
Carpal tunnel syndrome, was why being a telegrapher was a young man's job. Women were paid 1/3 less and were stuck in saloon less whistle stops. Cowboys would ride 50-70 miles just to stare at that erotic/exotic creature....who had no man telling her what to do..........even if she did nothing....she might!!!! (Sigh cubed.....they never did, they were good girls.)
The Telephone operator, was the start of woman's lib....or to put it correctly, the first job normal women could get that paid more than less than starvation wages of 50cents a 12 hour day. Men Telephone operators had been late to work, rude and gossiped for drinks about the business they had over heard ....in Telephone was to 99% all business. (1876 zero telephones, 1881 - 76,000....and three to four women telephone operators in the world. Three in Colorado, and one perhaps in Kentucky.) You paid for the telephone line from the mast to your business, and the original City Directories of the time..had XXX telephone...." Hello Bob, give me George....George Smith." grumble, like there was another George with a telephone.
Women were on time, cheerful and wouldn't be caught dead in a saloon....the last was the most important of all.
With in the next decade, dexterous women who could type with more than two fingers soon took over the secretary job from men...........................men who had been a secretary were often promoted into management positions. Secretary became a dead end job......after women took it over.
So any argument that nails/manifold nibs came in in the 1930's because of carbon paper is wrong..........single sided carbon paper had been in handwritten use from @ 1867, and used in typewriters from 1872.