Tag Archives: typewriters
When my friend came to visit from California, I had to show him my typewriters. Then I forced him to write something, which he did. I then edited it for the blog. Then he forced me to watch the World Series. He now knows the difference between an Olivetti and an Olympia, I think… but I still can’t understand baseball. I have to admit it’s a lot more interesting if you drink a few beers though.
A close inspection of the mechanics of this machine reveals some interesting engineering. There are variations in the lengths of the key levers, spring hooks, and ribbon lifters which would seem to balance the forces and distances traveled by each key. This is unlike most other machines that I have, where all the levers and rods are strictly proportional to their distance from the centre of the basket. Another feature is a lever which opens the ribbon vibrator so that the ribbon does not require threading into the usual contraptions on either side.
The small Brother is very portable, all metal, and works well. It’s not impressive from an aesthetic standpoint, but it feels good and makes very nice clean type. If you want aesthetics then look no further than the Olivetti Lettera 22. This machine is a designers dream. There is beauty in every little part of it, including the arms of the paper bail, and the fact that they choose to put chromed rollers on it instead of rubber ones. Not only does it look great, but it has amazing touch, and types very softly with no sharp whacking sounds or tinny vibrations. Typing on this is like the feeling you get when you slam the door of a Mercedes.
I discovered an advert for the Eaton’s typewriter from the Montreal Gazette c. 1959. As a native Montrealer it was funny that this was the only ad that my searches turned up. When I was a university student I once worked at Eaton’s, selling…..(not typewriters) … luggage.
Notice in the ad they include a touch typing course on records. Well guess what I found:
Another find was a box of ‘Eaton’s Corrasable Onion Skin’. Same name but different companies.
One last detail from the Sears Achiever – the gear shift! Actually the ribbon vibrator/holder release lever. Unofficially that is – I have no idea what they called this, but that’s what it does.
My first typewriter was a Hermes 9. I used it when I was starting out in business in 1983. Then came computers and the typewriter went into the closet, then bye bye. Fast forward to 2003. I bought a little portable for $10 at a thrift shop. I typed a few things on it (including some thoughts about typewriters and where they were going) and got a back ache – so I gave it back. It was pale blue and had a red label on the top right. It may have been a Hermes too, but I can’t recall. Then last June I had an urge to type again, why I cannot imagine. I went to a thrift store and lo and behold here was a pair of Underwood’s. Yes a pair. UnderWOOD. I selected the fancier one, called Golden Touch which had gold trim. It was your basic Universal with all the trimmings c. 1956. We had some fun with it, typing poems and short pieces. However, it had one flaw – the platen advance mechanism did not work perfectly. Clearly some part was missing or installed wrong, but I could not make it work. I took it apart and put it back together – no dice. I was not planning on acquiring more typewriters until one day while on vacation in California I spotted a little package sitting on the floor in an antique mall. I picked it up and opened the case. It was an Adler Tippa S. I left without it, but it was on my mind for a day. The following day I decided to go back. What the heck, it was small enough to carry around in the car, unlike the Underwood. So I bought it. It impressed me right off. So compact, so precise, and so easy to use. I began to look into the whole typewriter blogging world, and was amazed with all the fascinating things related to typewriters! I went back to the thrift stores with my eyes peeled for more. Now I have 11 typewriters. The latest is the other half of the pair of Underwoods from day one last summer. This one could be called the ugly sister, but basically it seems to have the same essential parts. It’s called the Correspondent c. 1952. The good news is that looking at the Correspondent gave me some ideas on how to fix the Golden Touch, so I went at it again and with the use of some heavy wire I got it to advance properly – now it works fine. And I didn’t break it.
from the platen of my Eaton’s Prestige (aka Smith Corona Silent Super c. 1959)
purchased Dec 15, 2011
This typewriter was made like a tank! Plus it has every feature that was available, even the platen is removeable.
It sold for $119.50. I paid $20. In 1959 you could have purchased a Rolex watch for $100. I’m glad typewriters have not appreciated in value to that degree.