22 February 2011

Homage to Typewriters, Machine and Human

There is this thing called the typosphere where aficionados of manual typewriters carry on the tradition of making words in old style fashion.  Bloggers of this ilk post typecasts in which their posts are scans of their typewritten texts. They gather in places such as Yahoo!'s Portable Typewriter Forum.  Some are inspired to organize Type-Ins at local bookstores.  And some creative types establish quasi-formal commemorative events such as ITAM (International Typewriter Appreciation Month).

As part of ITAM, a number of folks are posting pics of their typewriter collections.  Here are mine (clicking on the images will let you see them better).

The Detective
A Smith Corona Clipper

So named because it makes me think of something Philip Marlowe, Raymond Chandler's fictional detective, might use. Actually, The Detective is on loan.  It was the kind gift of Deek at TypeClack, who sent it for my young nephews.  I wrote about that memorable evening here.  The boys are still getting the hang of these machines, though -- tending to smash away despite gentle reminders.  So, for now, I've given them an SC Classic to use, an iron horse of a machine if there ever was.  I look forward to the day when The Detective can be returned. (The inkwell to the left is a "Sengbusch Self-Enclosing Instand" from the early-ish 20th century - made in my own fair city!)

A Corona Four, circa. 1929.

The previous owner of this very smooth, and very clackety typer was a military man and engineer.  He used this machine for school when he got his degree via the GI Bill.  Not surprisingly, he kept it in beautiful condition.

Little Nemo
Labeled "Bradford" on the front and "Brother" on the back.

My first Goodwill find, sea teal in color, with a lovely typing action (and surprisingly heavy for its small size).

Mr. Bond
An Olympia Traveller deLuxe

So named because its case is extremely trim and elegant and reminds me of a well-tailored tuxedo.  Who else would wear such a garment and wear it so well?  The typeface is an elite cursive which I adore.  It came to me by way of the aforementioned, Deek - who really knows how to pack a typewriter well for mailing!

A Smith Corona Super Stirling

A Goodwill find after I swore I would no longer acquire typewriters.  Sigh.  This one is in almost perfect condition, except for the tendency of the 1/! key to hit the metal top when struck.  Its case is one of those tight-fitting zippered models.  My impression was that this was once a student's machine.

A Royal Dart

I am hoping I can figure out the hinky ribbon advance issue for this sweet little machine.  It has a snug, zipper case and types with a clean, quick action. It was my first EBay purchase. (With one exception, all my Ebay buys have gone well.)

The Twins
A Royalite (L) and a Royal Crescent (R)

Both Ebay buys as I searched for the perfect small machine. I rarely use them now. The Twins are up for adoption.  If you are interested in buying or trading for one or both, email me for more specific details about their condition.  (Both have cases, though one case needs some side-stiching.)

The Galileo
An electric Smith Corona SL 470

So named because, when in its sleek-lined, gray plastic case, it reminds me of the shuttle craft of the same name on the original Star Trek series.  It actually belongs to my husband; it was his grandmother's.  I love its smooth action but I get wigged by its speed and the loud sound it makes when in use.

The Iron Duck
An Olivetti Studio 44

I thought I was going to lessen my typewriter load when I gave an old Remington Rand 17 desktop (bought on impulse at an esate sale) to a fellow typewriter person.  We brought it to his office downtown. He loved it, so I felt like I'd done a good deed.  But the karma I'd achieved was instantly returned when he handed me this one in thanks.  He never took a liking to it he said.  The Duck will soon be moving westerly to my brother's house where it will become a working prop in a cool immersion-style theater exeprience for some kids that we are working on for later this summer.

The Boat Anchor
A Smith Corona Galaxie II

Weighs only more than the Iron Duck, above.  It's typeface is small, its action responsive but requiring more force than I am accustomed to.  I love using it but I always get a back spasm when I do.

A Royal Quiet Deluxe

This one had a name at one point, but I use it so rarely that I forgot what it is.  It smells of old nicotine and its innards need a thorough cleaning.  I may spring for a professional rehab for my birthday this Spring!  The item next to it is a 1930s-era Art Deco style Esterbrook 407 inkwell.  It was made for use in post offices, banks, etc. - any public place where people needed to fill out forms.  Sort of the Bic Clic of its time.  A "dip-less" pen was often chained to the well - called dip-less because the nib was designed so that it held more ink.  One can write up to a paragraph before re-dipping.  I have two of them and love using them for my letter writing.

UPDATE - 20 OCT 2011: A new typer has entered the fold! A Smith Corona Silent.  Lovely mocha color with "racing stripes."  Pics soon!

UPDATE - 13 JAN 2012: See this new post for the pics and stories about my latest typewriter acquisitions.

Other Galleries of Typers:

ClickThing (the person who started this wonderfully insane trend!)
Strikethru (in an earlier post I cited her advice on how to buy an old typer - scroll down to notes at the bottom to see the link)
TypeClack (founder of ITAM)
Little Flower Petals (who is also a raging fan of that awesome old tech writing implement, the pencil)
Machines of Loving Grace (a gorgeous reference site - unfortunately so gorgeous that his pics and descriptions are often plagiarized by EBay sellers)

If you've posted your typewriter pics and would like to share them, post the link in the comments section.  Thanks!


  1. I remember reading your post about your nephews awhile back when it was first posted, and very much enjoyed revisiting! Quite a nice collection you have there. I'm particularly enamored of Mr. Bond and The Iron Duck.

    By the way I mentioned this post of yours in a letter I just sent out, but totally misread one piece...you can ignore my comment on that bit. Somehow I was thinking of typecasting rather than the trend of posting pretty typewriter collection photos. I'm a knucklehead. Frequently. ;)

  2. Thanks oodles for the pencils, by the way! I have yet to test drive them -- looking for some good quality paper. ;-)


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