Sunday, February 22, 2015

Oscar Typewriter!

Pleased to see that one of the "Team Oscar" 60-second videos featured a young writer and her typewriter. Check out this video by Rhianna Shaheen.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Key Choppers!

I make it a habit to check out the two Goodwill stores near me on my search for more typewriters.  I know I will find a gem one day, but frustration is all that I have found so far.  First I found a case for an Adler only to have my excitement dashed when I saw that it was an empty case.  Who took a typewriter without a case? This week I found something even worse.  When I spied a Royal  KMM in an old drum case I thought I would have a bookend for the same model I had bought a month before.  Again my hopes were dashed when I opened the case only to found that every one of the beautiful glass keys on this machine had been chopped off.  I know why people do this - to create jewelry.  But why donate this mutilated machine to Goodwill?  Richard Polt, the author of the upcoming book "The Typewriter Revolution," has said that using typewriter keys for jewelry is like cooking shark fin soup and I agree.  Look at the photos below to compare the sad machine I found today with my beautiful 1940's Royal in its prime.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lucky Find - Oliver No. 5

I always search my local Craigslist for typewriters to see if there is anything interesting and this past week I got lucky and found an Oliver No. 5 for sale just a few minutes away from my house.  I guess you can call all of my typewriters antiques, but this No. 5 is the genuine article being manufactured in 1906!  As you can see from the photo, this is a very interesting machine with the typefaces coming down from concentric rings on either side of the carriage.  I am just getting to know this machine and will blog more about it later but I can already tell that this one is a beauty in great shape.  Not only was I lucky to find this nice machine so close to my home, but it was sold to me by a very interesting couple.  Paul Garstki and Donna Thomas had been collecting typewriters to find the type of machine that Bram Stoker had used to write Dracula.  A movie had depicted Stoker writing Dracula on an Oliver but this was not the case.  If you ever lifted an Oliver, you could tell that it was too heavy to take with you as you wrote a novel as Stoker did.  Paul and Donna found that Stoker had actually used a Blickensderfer typewriter and gladly showed me the model that they had found.  Again I am finding that typewriters always tell a story and I am glad to have met Paul and Donna.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I Give Away Such Nice Typewriters

When my older daughter saw the Smith-Corona Sterling that I gave my younger daughter, she asked for a typewriter of her own.  I went back on the hunt but finding a vintage typewriter is not always that easy.  I went back to the thrift shop where I had found the Sterling again and again and found nothing.  I checked Craigslist religiously and found nothing until one day, after weeks of checking, I saw a woman's local ad for a typewriter.  This was the first item the woman had ever put on Craigslist and her phone was already ringing.  I said I could stop by that evening and picked up this nice Remington 5 Streamlined.  I didn't know how lucky I was!  I knew nothing of glass keys and pre-WWII portables and this little baby had everything.  It was in very good shape except the case was a little worn.  The woman explained to me that it had belonged to her mother and that she and her brothers and sisters had played with it as kids.  I fixed up the case with some contact cement and a cotter pin for a hinge part.  The typewriter itself cleaned up very nicely with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser - a new must have for my typewriter repair kit.  Now the gloss black paint shined.  The only problem was that the carriage return bell did not ring.  I could see the mechanism that was meant to trip the bell ringer, but it did not seem to have enough spring left.  I took a spring out of an old ballpoint click pen and hooked it up to the ringer and heard the sweet sound of the little bell.  Now that I have learned a lot more about collecting portables, I know how lucky I was to find this gem.  And the price?  Just $40!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Silent Super of my Past

My interest in typewriters was renewed again when I gave my daugher a Smith-Corona Sterling but this was far from the first typewriter that caught my eye.  I became fascinated with typewriters when my mother gave me an old Remington 12 that she bought at a yard sale.  While I was only five years old, I loved that typewriter.  I also remember my parents keeping their old portables from the 1950's up in the attic.  So I was pleased when I visited my parents the other day to learn that they still had the Remington and my dad's Smith-Corona Silent Super which they gave to me.  I'll write more about the Remington once I clean it up and get it typing again.  My dad's Silent Super was much easier to bring back to life.  A little bit of cleaning and a bit of oil and it is ready to type again.  The Silent-Super is known as one of the best portables of the 1950's if not one of the best manual typewriters ever.  It came with some advanced features such as tabs that could be set on the keyboard, a paper guide on the platen, the number "1" and an exclamation point (something that some typewriters did not have even in the 70's).  

My dad was proud of his Silent Super as you can see in this picture taken as he went off to college with a typewriter in one hand and a transistor radio tucked under his arm.  That Smith-Corona sat in the attic ever since my dad came home from college and I'm glad it is sitting with me now and will see some use again.