Sunday, November 18th, 2012

My Darling B has leveled a challenge: She believes that, if I were to tell anybody how many typewriters I own, I would get an eye-roll from practically everyone.

Well, here is a group shot of every typewriter I own:

that's a lot of typewriters! Or is it?

On the far left: A Smith-Corona Silent, one of the first typewriters I bought from a roadside antique store in a small town back in the 80’s. More than that, I can’t remember. A beautiful machine, I hardly ever use it because the platen’s too hard and slippery to hold paper. The day I get it fixed, I’ll sit down and write my first novel on it.

In the left column, top to bottom: A Smith-Corona Skyriter. I developed an affection for these cute little machines when my son bought one and let me try it out. You really do have to call them “cute.” They’re not fully-functional typewriters but they’re small enough to tuck into a backpack or overnight bag so, if you learned to write on a keyboard and you’re an anachrophile for typewriters (there’s got to be a word for that, but I haven’t found it yet), you really have to take one of these to the coffee shop to annoy all the laptop users. One day I’d like to corner the market on Skyriters, paint them in bright colors and sell them as the novelty items they ought to be.

Below the Skyriter, an LC Smith No. 8. A classic cast-iron desktop, this is the first typewriter I dared to take apart. When I bought it from a thrift shop it was filthy and barely functional. I cleaned it up enough to make it presentable but it’s still barely functional and will probably remain so until I take it apart a couple more times. That’ll have to wait for a long weekend in winter, though.

Below the No. 8, a Smith-Corona Sterling, a five-dollar garage-sale find. A good portable. Was my favorite writing machine until I bought an Olivetti.

Below the Sterling, a Japy I picked up at an auction only because it types in a Cyrillic font. Barely functional, this one’s another project for a long winter weekend.

On the work bench in front of the Japy, a Corona No. 3. Another one of the buys I made when I was going through my first typewriter-hoarding phase back in the 80s. Bought it because it looks very old and because it’s one of the first portable typewriters. Already very small, it becomes positively tiny when you fold the carriage down over the keyboard and close it up in its own little hatbox.

In the center column: a Royal Quiet de Luxe. I don’t collect Royals as a practice, but this is the same model my Dad wrote on. I got an itch one weekend, searched e-bay for a reasonably-priced offering and had this one on my work bench about a week later. Took about a week to de-gunk and un-fungify. Still needs a little tender loving care but is already one of the most useful typers I own.

Below the Royal, a pile of junk. Sort of spoiled the shot. Sorry about that.

Below the pile of junk, an IBM Selectric II. Found this in a Goodwill shop priced at three dollars. My hoarding instinct kicked in and I found myself carrying it out the door before the full import of what I was doing struck me. Selectrics are so well-built and produce such high-quality text that they’re still in use in some offices and sell for hundreds of dollars. Getting a buyer to pay the extortionately high cost of sending a fifty-pound typewriter through the mail or via FedEx is a bit of a problem, though.

On the work bench in front of the Selectric, another Smith-Corona Skyriter. This one’s a little older than the other one and writes in a pica font. And I’m going to paint it navy blue. Just because.

In the right column: an Underwood No. 5. Another of the classic cast-iron desk top typewriters, this is the very first typewriter I bought for fun. I don’t use it much any longer because you have to be in pretty good shape to bang out even two or three pages of copy on a machine like this, and I just don’t have the muscle tone for it. It’s a machine for a young man full of piss and vinegar. Also a good machine to use if you’re very angry; you can mash the keys as hard as you want, you’re not going to break it.

Below the Underwood, a Remington Quiet-Riter. Impulse buy at a thrift store. Pieces missing, but a good working typer. A very noisy machine. Not that I mind, but the name is more than a little ironic.

On the bench in front of the Remington, a Smith-Corona Sterling. I bought this by accident while I was trying to figure out how to use the Goodwill on-line auction web site. No, really. Cost me five bucks plus postage.

Front and center on the work bench, an Olivetti Studio 44, my favorite machine in the harem. Also a thrift store impulse buy, this is the best-built machine I’ve ever seen. The action is smooth and it has a beautiful pica font. The backspace key didn’t work but I fixed that by slipping a washer under the hook that pulls the carriage back. (That’s why it’s still naked.) The return lever is broke and I still haven’t figured out how to fix that, but I still use this machine more than any other.

So, did you roll your eyes? You can be honest with me.

eye roll | 11:09 am CDT
Category: daily drivel, entertainment, hobby, My Darling B, O'Folks, play, typewriters | Tags:
7 Comments | Add a comment


  1. 1 B said at 11:18 am on November 18th, 2012:

    I don’t believe that’s all of them. You’re hiding some.

  2. 2 Dave said at 1:47 pm on November 18th, 2012:

    Nope. This is the whole posse. If I had more I’d proudly show them off. Why would I hide them? To avoid looking crazy? I think you underestimate my willingness to embrace my nerdity.

  3. 3 Gary j said at 1:58 pm on November 18th, 2012:

    Rolled an eyeball so hard it’s stuck up position.

  4. 4 Auntie Susan said at 3:49 pm on November 18th, 2012:

    Jealous! The Selectric…though its ugly as sin…is a wonderful typewriter. I’m still searching for the old, black portable I typed ever so many papers on in high school…would LOVE to own it again. And…of course I’d love to find a ribbon for my Tom Thumb typewriter…which will become part of your collection some day!

  5. 5 Dave said at 4:56 pm on November 18th, 2012:

    Although the Selectric II is ugly as sin, I always thought the original Selectric with its smooth curves was a beautiful machine.

    Do you remember the make & model of your old black portable? Maybe I could help you find one like it.

  6. 6 T. Munk said at 3:43 pm on November 27th, 2012:

    Son, you need to take a look at the Typosphere. There exists an entire subculture of weirdos who will make you feel like your collection of writing machines is an entirely normal pursuit. There is a danger, though – some of these people will make you feel like your collection is entirely too small and will show you machines that will incite a savage aquisitorial lust in your soul. (yeah I just made up a word)

    One of Us!

  7. 7 Dave said at 5:48 am on November 28th, 2012:

    Funny you should say that. I stumbled into the typosphere many moons ago and have been back to visit many times. Your warning comes a bit too late; I thought I had too many typewriters until I discovered the denizens of the typosphere. Now I’m on what I’m sure will be a life-long quest to catch up. But thanks anyway. I suppose you felt it your duty to say something (“Stop. Wait. Come back.”)