10 July 2013

A Tabletop of Typewriters: What Was What

Back in early June, while preparing for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel interview, I posted my pre-event photos of the machines I'd set out for display and asked folks to take a stab at identifying them from the not-so great photos.  

Nick B. pretty much blew us all away with his list! Richard P. had an idea for #10 too.  So here is what they said and what the machines were.  Most of Nick's listings were spot on!

[A few of the machines have an FS notation. Those are for sale. Contact me if you're interested.]

1. Olivetti Studio 44 
A gift machine I unexpectedly received in return when I gave a Remington Rand Seventeen to a local gentleman of the engineering persuasion (he said he loved it and could fix it!). I received a much nicer machine than the one I gave, and much appreciate this unexpected kindness.

 Remington Rand 17 vs Olivetti Studio 44
This RR 17 is not the actual one I gave him; that one had a broken carriage return arm. 
Which makes his gift all the more honorable.

2. Olympia SM3 

This machine has lovely lines and a beautiful cursive font. It was also clean as the proverbial whistle. The doctor who owned it clearly appreciated it and I thank him for that.

3. Smith-Corona Galaxie 10 (Assuming not a 12 since it has a normal carriage) 

Actually this is an SC Galaxie II.  Its 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.

Normal carriage? Okay, I give up and, in doing so, admit that I am not a proper collector even if I am a Typospherian.  I don't check serial numbers as a rule and only get machines that pretty much work.  I use 'em mostly to write letters.  So, what's a normal carriage? (What's an abnormal carriage, for that matter?)

(and extra points for those who know why this image is here)

4. Remington Quiet-Riter Eleven

I have to say Nick B's perspicacity impressed the heck out of me! I had already put all the machines away following the JS interview and was fairly certain I did not own a fourth Remington! But here it was amid cases that looked all Smith Corona-y!


5. Sears Citation
Another Goodwill find and very similar to the other Smith Coronas of that era. I refer to them as my College Collection as they look like the machines so many of us 'of an age' used as undergraduates.


6. Olivetti Underwood 378| FS
Close! When I got it I thought it was another 378, but it has its own number: 319. Robert Messenger of Oz Typewriter has a few nice pics of the 319 in his collection.

And like the 378 (see #10) the case attaches to the machine, making a single carrying unit.

 (L) The 378  (R) The 319

7. Penncrest Caravelle (Smith-Corona)
Penncrest Caravelle! I just love the sound of the name; tres elegante and even Narnian in a way. No doubt the Smith Corona marketing department thought that too. Part of the aforementioned College Collection.

8./12. (I see it down as both!) Royal Quiet De Luxe 

My bad on the numbering! Not sure how I managed that. ;-) Yes, "both" are truly the same machine the Royal QDL! This is the machine preferred by my nephew, Boy1.

9. & 11 Royal Royalite | Royal Royalite | FS
I love that these two were identified as the same machine model. They may as well be.  I call 'em "The Twins." One is indeed a Royal Royalite. The other is a Royal Crescent.  Can't recall now which was which in the JS interview display photo.

10. Nick: (I can't tell :D )| Richard P thought it might be "some sort of Brother" | FS
It was hard to see this machine in the pics, the sunlight from the window above created an overexposure. It is an Underwood 378 (1970s era).  Here's what it looked like when I first got it. (More pics here.)  I haven't had the chance to clean it yet.  You can see what it can look like all shined up at this post of Robert Messenger's (of Oz Typewriter).

12. See #8 above.

13. Smith-Corona Super Sterling

I am not too keen on the Darwinian design progress of the SC Sterlings! See Number 18 below for a model with much more elegant lines.  But that may be just a matter of taste. As an historian, I prefer the older machines.

 14. Remington Quiet-Riter
This one may be a Quiet-Riter, but the only identifying label on it says Remington and nothing more. It has lovely typing action, but is surprisingly heavy for a portable. (Though not as heavy the the Studio 44 above, which I named The Iron Duck for that reason!)


15. One of those really late Olivettis? | FS
This one's label identifies it as a Sperry-Rand -Remington Performer.

It has a cool, zip-around case that reminds me of Mr. Spock's Tricorder

And some very sassy red keys!

16. Royal Quiet De Luxe
This one IS a Royal, but an Arrow rather than the QDL.  I call it The Machine That Waited (back story here).  I love the "tombstone" keys.

17. Smith-Corona Skyriter
This is my favorite go-to machine for en plein air typing, though I often keep it indoors and at the ready in my dining room corner writing desk.  It used to have an older brother. That one (right, below) now resides with fellow Typospherian, Bill M.

18. Smith Corona (speedline... Sterling maybe?)

A Sterling it is, and a lovely one at that! Alan Seaver, on his very grand site Machines of Loving Grace says of his beautiful 1940s-era Sterling "this is one of my favorite typers, both to look at and to use." Mine too! This was a very unexpected surprise at one of our local Goodwill stores.

19. Underwood Universal/Champion

This is my second oldest machine; circa 1930.  Its decals identify it as an Underwood Portable. (Tom Furrier of the Cambridge Typewriter Co. recently posted this 1935 ad - which suggests this is indeed a Champion.)  I found it up in Wausau, WI at an antiques store.  It needs some restoration work but the mechanisms all work fine and the key action is clean and snappy.


20. Corona 4

Date: 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.

21. Remington Quiet-Riter | FS
This was actually a Remington Travel-Riter.  Here is a better pic. The case it came in was rather hip, too, thanks to the stickers applied by the previous owner! Sadly, the feed rollers seem to have flattened out. It types beautifully though.

22. Facit TP1

The "Prince of Typewriters" Robert Messenger of Oz Typewriter named this machine.  I gave this "Prince" an entire post here.

23. Smith-Corona Silent 
Almost, it is an SC Clipper. And virtually identical to the SC Silent (Number 26) but without the "rabbit ears" paper holder-upper. (Okay, what's the official name for those?)

24. Royal Dart
This one reminds me a lot of my Skyriter in its neat, compact lines. Unfortunately, the ribbon jumps ahead when the keys are struck; so I don't use it as I would like.
The fact that all 3 of the smaller Royals have ribbon issues makes me think I may be putting the ribbons in wrong. (I have a kind of visual dyslexia which makes it difficult for me to translate the image from the user's manual to actual practice. Once I sewed a pigeon-toed stuffed dinosaur toy!)

25. Olympia Traveller/Traveller De Luxe | FS
This one was hard to see in all the images, so kudos to Nick for his sharp eyes.  Here's a better pic of the machine I posted some time back. It has a rather stiff typing action. I can't tell if that is the machine or the fact that I don't use it very often so it gets that way.

26.  This one was overlooked in the excitement!
It's a Smith Corona Silent, a virtual twin to Number 23, the SC Clipper. This one has cool racing stripes and for that alone I like it the better of the two!

Thanks for playing along!
Reminded me of the Card Bingo games I played as a kid!


  1. Whew! That's quite an assortment. I'd love to have many of these machines myself. But hey, there's only so much shelf-space.

    1. :-D Only one or two are out at a time; most stay in their cases. And due to space concerns, I am beginning to "thin the herd." I am one of those collectors who thinks the machines should be used!

  2. Replies
    1. Ton! I knew you'd be happy to see that Olivetti 44 at the top! ;-)

  3. I really should have known it was a Travel-Riter not a Quiet-Riter! It was right beside the Corona Four so I should have used the size comparison. Either way this was a lot of fun to do.

    1. Nick, you impressed the be-jeezers out of me! Those were not the best pics that I posted. What a "recognition eye" you have. Thanks again for your list (which made this post all the more fun to write). ;-)

    2. Nick - just checked out your collection (awesome!) Re: your wishlist, have you seen mclemens/Click Things recent posts? There are some machines there that might interest you. URL: http://clickthing.blogspot.com/

  4. Great work cataloging your collection! They are all wonderful, but I especially like the blue SM-3.

    1. That SM-3 is actually more a light mint green; the lighting changed things when I did the pic. The cataloging comes at a very convenient time, too. We just changed insurance companies and need to record stuff like this for our records. (Hope the Nerd Haus Collective is having a good time on vacation!)

  5. Those are some very nice machines! Thanks for sharing all the details with us. You have done one fine job of organizing and logging your collection.

  6. What a careful and entertaining overview, thanks.

  7. Pretty solid collection! I'm jealous of a few. Would love to try a Facit.

    1. Hey Mark, I am trying to 'thin the herd' here and would be willing to sell the Facit. Email me if you are interested (dantes_wardrobe@yahoo.com). p.s. LOVE the photos on your blog. You have a great eye for composition and clearly adore these machines!


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