28 September 2012

Twin Typers a Decade (or so) Apart




"Twin Sons of Different Mothers is the fifth album by American singer/songwriter Dan Fogelberg, released in 1978. The album was the first of Fogelberg's two collaborations with jazz flautist Tim Weisberg, [the second was]. . . No Resemblance Whatsoever." [from Wikipedia article]

I thought of these gentlemen when, in the span of only a few weeks, I acquired two Smith Corona Skyriters.




The first (on the right) I found at a fairly run down antiques shop down in Milwaukee's Third Ward. I've been there twice and both times was disappointed at the quality of the wares, the haphazard displays, and the often ridiculous prices.  But I'd been wanting a Skyriter muchly and didn't want to go the online route.  




I found this one tucked under the bulbous cases of a rather dirty 1950s-era Royal Quiet DeLuxe and a swinging 1960s turquoise SC Classic 12.  The Skyriter had taken quite a beating it was plain to see.  But despite the wear and tear, it typed cleanly.  The proprietress wanted $50 for it.  I talked her down to $45 with an old wooden croquet ball and a some other knick-knack thrown in as lagniappes. 




The second one I found via Goodwill's online store.  I was looking for "a friend" don't ya know! (So much for my promise not to look online. . . ) The photos on Goodwill are often blurry and the descriptions none too detailed, but this one had great pics and a description that suggested the owner had taken good care of it.  I put in my bid and crossed myself fingers - and was delighted when no one else wanted it. 

It arrived very well packed. (I Tweeted my thanks to the folks at the Oregon shop and emailed the main Goodwill HQ with a compliment as well.)   

Here are some closer views of the wee beasties. (I haven't dated them precisely, but I believe the older one is from the 1940s and its kin from the 1950s.) 









The case for the older one looks as though it went through some hard times.





The younger machine (probably my age, though, now that I think about it), to my great delight, was in extremely good condition with only a single ding on one side.  It types with a nice snap to the action.










The case for the newer machine is very similar to those of my Royal Crescent and Royalite typewriters - a zip-around closure with a double handle.  The Skyriter's case is much better made however, and has a fabric sleeve in the upper cover (which contained a brush to clean the type slugs and a small product card.) 









I'm thinking that I'll eventually sell the older one, but for now it is fun to see them sitting together.  







12 comments:

  1. Within a couple weeks of each other, I have picked up a Zephyr and Skywriter that look startlingly similar. They were in two antique stores in different towns, but still local, and still inexpensive. The biggest difference is the keys, as the Zephyr has 'glass' keys while the Skywriter is a tiny green-eyed beauty.

    I have named them 'Sid and Nancy'. These are the typers that will go with us on the motorcycles. I should really post about them, and soon.

    Congrats on the great twin finds!

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    1. Sid and Nancy! Though their namesakes were a rather tragic due, somehow the look of the Skywriters matches their thin and scruffy look. "Typewriters that go with motorcycles" - yeah, I definitely wanna read about that!

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  2. To date them precisely, look on the right-hand side of the machine. The serial number is stamped on the metal frame of the typewriter itself, and is partially obscured by the outer shell. A flashlight would not be uncalled for here.

    Shelling Skyriter's is quick and easy, if you're inclined to clean out the works. I have two myself, twins to the ones you picked up, and they're pretty good little machines, considering all the tradeoffs that Smith-Corona made to fit a typewriter in such a tiny package. Respooling is a challenge -- there's a metal clip that holds the ribbon on to the spool shaft -- but you can't beat them on portability.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I must confess, Michael, that while I know all about serial numbers on these beasties, I have the darndest time figuring out the serial number Typewriter Serial Number Database (http://www.tw-db.com for those interested) always defeats me (an embarrassment since I am an information specialist! The layout and labels just don't click somehow.) Any advice appreciated!

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    2. If you post the numbers, they're pretty easy to look up. They'll probably start with a 2Y or a 3Y

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    3. Better yet, teach me to fish! Show me how to find a precise date with a number. Even better, write an awesome blog post about it and teach the Typosphere to fish!

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  3. Very nice! I've been greatly tempted by the Skyriters and the ones I have run across in the wild seem to have good typing action. I'm holding out for first generation, perfect and cheap. I recently acquired a glass key Gossen Tippa to satisfy my portable typing whims.

    I like the case and tags that came with your newer Skyriter. Very spiffy!

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    1. One of these days I want to do an actual typecast - showing examples of the typefaces from all my machines. As for "perfect and cheap" - best of luck there! Pics when you find one. ;-)

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  4. Speed booster? Sounds like something a car company would advertise!

    Nice Skyriters! I have a Tower Chieftain II, a rebranded Skyriter, but have yet to get the proper spools, as it didn't come with any.

    Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yeah, I was wondering about that speed booster thing myself. I find the flatness of the key arrangement makes me type a bit slower - it types well but just doesn't feel as hardy or durable as the larger Smith Coronas models.

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  5. If you're interested in selling, please let me know! I want a skyriter, but I tool am scared of buying Online, and the shops around here haven't given me much hope for what they hold...

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    Replies
    1. Hi Art - I am heading out of town for the weekend . . . could you email me directly and we can talk about this? My email is dantes_wardrobe@yahoo.com

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