p.s. although I got some printed I haven’t yet published the book. I sent it to several agents who were too busy to even reject it! Woe to them when it sells a million copies!
Category Archives: Typewriters
I received a reminder today of what photos I had taken exactly one year ago. Google does this, for reasons that escape me. All I wanted was a place to backup my picture files, but this is what you get when you join the big machine. However, it was synchronous with a thought I’ve had mulling in my head for some time, which is the phenomenon of pairs – the duality of things. When you get right down to it, everything started with a singularity, which was simply everything in the universe compressed into a point with no dimension. It had no dimension because there was nothing to measure with. Try to imagine the concept – it floors me, so I avoid thinking about it. Maybe Steven Hawking could have explained it to me, alas, but we shall never meet.
So what happened? It expanded, fast. But, mathematically it had to go from being one thing to two, didn’t it? I mean if mathematics holds true in all universes, then the whole number that follows one is two. So I say that two is thus extremely important. With one, there was nothing, but with two there was instantly something, because the 2nd thing made the first thing a point of reference, before which there was none.
Before this gets too confusing I just want to share some pairs of things that I have recently encountered, just because they were a pair. Some were alive, others man made.
Here we have a pair of Smith Corona Sterling’s; a 1951 and a 1956 – one pica, one elite = a perfect set. Since I had collected a few of these, as wonderful as they are, I decided to sell them both. One sold in 2 days. The other just went on the market. What’s the point of having only one of them? So I have to sell the pair. I’m hanging on to my pair of Silent Supers however.
A pair of Olympia SG1’s, both 1963. Both had the same problems – including a disintegrated right margin stop. How odd – clearly a design defect. One elite, one pica – is this a pattern? One sold, the other still for sale. The advantage of this pair coming along in short order is that I have had a chance to examine the engineering closely, since they both required a fair bit of tweaking.
Buying and fixing these is not only fun, but also is a small contribution to keeping these great old machines from the dump. There are no repair shops left in this town, so when I get a typewriter back on the road I feel like I’m contributing something, and the money I make helps me buy and fix more machines, so I’m not out of pocket. Still, they are cheap when you think about what they are worth and what it would cost to buy one in today’s money.
Now we move on to wildlife. I always thrill to a pair of bald eagles. This pair was first encountered in one tree, then they flew away. Later on my rambles I saw them again in another tree. To see a pair of them take flight up close is a wonder to behold.
Moving on we find some ducks. They tend to hang out in pairs, male and female, but I wonder if they form couples? I think not, but they say geese do.
The Olympics are on again, and everyone knows that those some cheaters (uno who) won’t be there because they were caught using banned performance enhancing drugs. Steroids, mostly, which make muscles bigger and stronger. I get my muscles however from lifting my Olympia SG1 typewriter. That machine has appropriately been described as a typewriter on steroids, for it is larger and stronger by far than most every other typewriter I’ve encountered. I recently brought it home from a thrift shop, where it sat on the floor because the staff found it too heavy to lift up onto a shelf, no doubt. Perhaps that is why it has a removable carriage. It does help to take the carriage off when carrying the thing, but even so the base unit remains one heavy sucker. I only brought this home because it is something to be seen and admired. Under the bodywork, which is thick bulletproof steel, is a cast steel structure that more resembles part of a building or a bridge than any other typewriter. The only real problem I encountered with it was the sliding metal block of the right margin control, a piece that incomprehensibly was made of cheap pot metal. That stuff is infamous for self destructing due to internal oxidation. Why Olympia made those parts from such bad material is puzzling, as everything else on the machine is made of extra large extra strong steel.
I salvaged the part by gluing it back together with JB-Weld and little pieces of scrap steel cut from a tin of canned tuna, the sort that peels open with a ring pull. Lets hope that steel holds up. It works again, and the carriage stops at the set point. However, the space bar releases the margin stop, unlike any other typewriter I’ve known. Inspection of the mechanics indicates to me that this is normal, but it does seem odd. Once I got it all back together I gave the ribbon a rubdown with WD40, which revived the ink very well, and then I wrote the following piece. Forgive the typos, I just dashed this off as a test. The SG1 certainly works well enough, but I see no reason for having such a monstrous typewriter around here, so I will sell it. Whatever I get will not cover the many hours of disassembly, repairs and cleaning, but that was part of the fun of having it here for a while and admiring the engineering that went into it. Among other things I did was to disassemble the tabulator brake to get that working, another marvel to behold as the carriage glides slowly along and gently comes to rest when the tab bar is tapped.
We recently saw the movie The Darkest Hour in which Churchill dictates letters to his lovely young secretary, who types on an Imperial typewriter. Seeing this I knew I had to get an Imperial, but I had no idea it would happen so fast.
It was a week that will live in the history of my typewriter collecting. I sold all 3 of my Olympia Traveller/SFs with script face, and purchased 4 other typewriters. It was all quite by chance. I listed a Traveller script and had multiple inquiries. With all the interest I decided to sell while the market was hot so I could get some cash and also make room in the shop. Little did I suspect what was going to happen next.
Last Monday I put a Traveller in the mail to a fellow in Washington, then on my way to town I put in a bid for a 1954 Imperial Good Companion 3 being auctioned at the Sally Ann. I carried on to hit 2 more thrifts and picked up 3 typewriters: an Olympia SG1, Olympia SF, and a 1949 Remington Noiseless 7. The SG1 was filthy and the typebars stuck with tarry goo. The SF had been dropped and the carriage was detached, the back panel smashed. The Remington was perfect however, and even had the key to the case.
Today I am featuring the Good Companion, which I won, to my surprise, for $22! What an interesting find. It came with the original warranty sheet, instruction manual, brush, wiping cloth, oiler, a few sheets of carbon paper, and typing instruction sheet with finger positions! It has a lovely typeface, similar to the Oliver Courier, and more stylish than most.
The machine was sold in Fiji, in January 1955. The list of dealers in the manual has them all over the globe, but none in the USA.
The case is very fancy, and looks like real leather.
There was one minor issue, the platen clutch was seized. I was able to fix it with a squirt of super lube, but I had to remove the platen to do this. It took about five attempts to reassemble, but at last it went back together and now the clutch works. While it was apart I discovered that the inside of the platen was made of wood.
I wonder what sort of oil that was?
There was no oil in the tube, but the brush works.
The cloth is a bit oily, so I won’t be using it for wiping the typewriter.
I’ll stick to hunting and pecking. Should have learned in high school!
Thank you, C.L. Sohn, for keeping all the paperwork and the accessories.
Last night we watched CALIFORNIA TYPEWRITER on DVD which we found at our library. Needless to say it was riveting. Even my wife thought it was outstanding! Imagine a documentary starring Tom Hanks – what’s not to love? I really dig Tom, too, just as a regular guy. I was thrilled when he talked about his favorite Smith Corona Silent, knowing that I have the same model. It was like we were brothers, briefly. This is not to ignore all the other wonderful characters in the movie. I loved them all! Dr. Polt was magnificent! So ad lib, so cool, so hip, and how he typed the manifesto flawlessly (right Richard?). I could hardly sleep afterwards and even woke up in the middle of the night thinking about Smith Coronas. I have to point out another crazy coincidence, the opening scene in which a Royal 10 gets tossed from a car. My last novel is all about a Royal 10 with magic powers! Here am I looking to find one for myself and there they were casually throwing one out the window to it’s destruction. Ouch!!
So of course the challenge of the day is to try to combine all the things I love into a blog post. One must of course acknowledge this day as the birthday of the incomparable Django Reinhardt, first and foremost. Good thing tomorrow is nothing special, because Thursday is Robbie Burns’ Day, another incomparable character. I can hardly stand the excitement! I have come up with this – an excerpt from the first draft of my novel – An Engineer’s Guide to Paris, (available above from Createspace and Amazon) that was, of course, drafted on a typewriter. It features a scene whereby I imagined my protagonist discovering a letter inside the lining of an old guitar case…
For my whole life I have used coins that said Elizabeth Regina on one side. Rarely I had some that said George, but if I ever did save any they have all vanished. For those who do not live in the Commonwealth, I will explain – Elizabeth is our Queen, Head of State of Canada and the Commonwealth, and Regina is a city in Saskatchewan, where she visited. Olympia, however, is the name of one of the twins in my latest book, THE MAGIC TYPER. The story takes place in some smallish Canadian city, which is like the place I live, Victoria (also named for a Queen) and possibly Regina, too.
However, the Olympia Regina under discussion here is none of the about, it is an electric typewriter sold by a German company but made in Japan. It just seems so Canadian however, which may explain why I recently bought one. Since we never really understand our motives, that is entirely possible. Modern research avows that we make decisions before we are aware of deciding, and furthermore, that we rationalize most of our decisions as a way of making sense of this irrationality. So I’m trying to come up with some more plausible reasons why I now own this new old typewriter, which I most definitely don’t need. I probably need a team of psychologists to help me figure that out and to explain how it is that Star Wars movies invariably use the same recycled plots and subplots, and yet attract millions of viewers! And why does the Supreme Leader look like a creature made from a large over-baked potato? Because his designer once had a favourite toy – Mr. Potato Head! See the connection?
Some of my recent sales: a retired gentleman for his grandson of 7; a young lady who likes to write stories; a lady for her 17 year old daughter who likes to write stories; a collector in his early 20’s; a new father who wants to type his daily journal; a man who is collecting Olympias only; a retired gentleman who wants to write memoirs and who once owned an Olympia SM3 (he bought my SM3); a middle aged man who likes writing stories; a man for his 93 year old father. I conclude from this brief survey that typewriters continue to have an appeal that transcends any particular age group.