Discovered in a thrift shop last week. It’s not exactly a slide rule, although it resembles one. It’s a metric converter, and if the USA ever joins the metric world, these will be in high demand. Get one now while they’re cheap; only 8 Euros on Ebay! This handy tool does a great job and is accurate enough for most applications, unless you are in need of scientific accuracy. To underscore the historical significance of this gadget, the Smithsonian considers it worthy of a webpage. With one moving part, it should last several lifetimes. The sliding cursor is unnecessary, so I don’t count that.
Category Archives: Technology
Instaxography (copyright) is my latest hobby of the week, for this week, until the film pack is gone that is. I picked this baby up at a thrift shop complete with the batteries, several shots left on the pack, and a new pack of 10 pictures, for cheap – about what the film pack costs. I knew I had to have it after I took a test picture of the clerk in the store who showed it to me. They keep these under glass, like gold jewelry, and you must request a showing. They don’t wear white gloves however, which spoils the entire effect. However, it brings me back to the days of Polaroidography (copyright that too) and my old SX70. I thought the film was expensive 35 years ago! Holy crap! Today…. don’t ask! But Fuji is cheaper, and just about as bad as Polaroid was, so why not?
While out for a bike ride we stopped beneath the bridge and I also did a watercolour sketch.
Looking the other way we have a lovely barge and a lot of water and sky, but Instaxography gives it a very artistic feel, don’t you think? Ugly can be beautiful.
Anyhow, I’m not finished this experiment yet, and I have to say it is still a sort of thrill to watch and wait for the image to appear as if by magic. My Dad had a Polaroid, I had a Polaroid, and recently I sent my son in Germany – a Polaroid! I hope the film is cheaper there. If not he can get himself a Instax, or just forget the whole thing. But one day, I know his genes will express themselves and he will take up instant photography, if only now and then. It’s in our blood! Also, I took Polaroids of the babies… you gotta love that.
Now this thing has to be the lightest typewriter I’ve ever come across! It was made in England and sold at Eaton’s as a Playfair Feather Touch. The only metal I saw on it were a few screws, and every other part was plastic, including the type slugs, which have 3 characters each. This you could carry on a backpacking trip, if only it was likely to work. It did seem to work from my testing, but the tiny ribbon, about 1/4″ wide, was not inked enough and was all twisted, so that was an assumption. They were asking a ridiculous price for it too, so I let someone else have it.
This great generosity was well rewarded soon after when I picked up two real typewriters in succession, both very similar to each other and for a good price.
First was this one:
I’ve been lucky this week, I found this at a thrift store for $5.
I had to celebrate this and the fact that 90 years earlier, today in 1868 Sholes received his typewriter patent! From my Scottish made Lettera 22, typed on Baron Erasable Bond 25% cotton content:
Here’s a close look at the adjuster ring, which has 9 settings. The blade pack was empty, but I appreciate that whoever donated this thought to include it with the razor. My Dad shaved with a similar Gillette razor and Wilkinson stainless razor blades, a major advancement in technology in 1962. Gillette knew how to make them but didn’t, because the blades lasted too long!
Last year I missed out on a wonderful old German portable phonograph I saw in a thrift shop but didn’t buy. See that post here.
When I saw this old suitcase phonograph the other day I grabbed it. It worked poorly at first but I was able to remove the stuck platter and clean off the old grease, lubricate it and get it going. It has a BSR automatic turntable which was very common, and there are many videos about fixing them. The amplifier, a mono unit with one vacuum tube, puts out a decent sound through a very small speaker. These units generally had ceramic phono cartridges which although not hi-fi were good enough for their purpose. Here is a video demonstration using one of my old LP’s with the Beatles classic No Reply, from Beatles 65, featuring evocative vocals by John Lennon. The sound, although poor by modern standards, is still thrilling and I even enjoyed the 60 cycle hum!
I have no idea who manufactured this unit, but it was sold by Eaton’s, and made in Canada. It could be an Electrohome, or perhaps RCA Victor.
Anyone have 16 rpm records?
The wiring is stereo but only two wires are connected to the amplifier, and the cartridge is mono too. It has a dual needle stylus type ST8, which is still available, and plays 78’s too.
Yesterday I printed a 10 page manual for my guitar amp, downloaded of course since I didn’t have the original. I went to staple it together with my trusty VICTOR stapler, but that failed miserably. Later on I was passing the office junk aisle in a thrift shop (where else) and spotted this old stapler for $4. It looked rugged, my foremost criterion for a stapler, so I purchased it in the hope it would blasted through 10 pages like “butta”. It didn’t disappoint! I began to wonder how old it was. I was shocked to discover, through circuitous web searching, that the basic design dates from 1936!
One other reason to like this stapler is how well it matches old Smith Coronas, dull greyish crinkle paint and all.
Here’s a US Patent drawing for the same stapler from 1939, filed 1937. This fellow Maynard filed a whole lot of patents, many for staplers, but lots of other stuff. It wouldn’t surprise me if he even designed a typewriter…
Here’s a side view of mine. Dig the background – a vintage George Shearing LP cover. The record itself was awful, but we generally like most of Shearing’s stuff.
The other old item I acquired yesterday was a pink depression glass plate, $2. Someone out there who knows more than I do says this is Federal Windsor button & cane design. Beats me, I like the colour!
Last night I served myself a Peek Frean tea biscuit on this plate, with a beer. Both were delicious!