All posts in Typewriter

Typewriter on Parks & Recreation

I don’t know how many of y’all watch Parks & Recreation (I do, it’s a pretty good show), but there was a funny bit about an Underwood typewriter in a recent episode.

Underwood Standard Champion #4680705

The term “thereabouts” in the above text doesn’t make sense, on second read. But I guess you know what I meant?

Where are my manners, please see links to Olivander (Collapsing World), A Treatise on Pedestrianism, and Manual Entry under “The Typosphere” at left.

And hey, that’s my dad. He’s a swell guy.

The Great Petaluma Haul

I feel compelled to update this post with information from one Olivander, ubercollector, who has set me straight on what the heck this machine actually is. In his words:

The “11” indicates platen length, not the model #. The base unit is that of a No.6 (you can tell by the ribbon selector switch being set up on top of the front plate instead of facing out). Think of how Olivetti turned the Lettera 32 base machine into many, many different models.

The name on the space bar positively identifies the model name as Champion. I don’t what was different about the Champion to separate it from the regular No.6. Maybe it was only marketing. I’ve seen them called Master, too, and they look the same to me.

So what you have is a Champion built around a No.6 chassis.

Thank you Olivander!

Name that typewriter: Viracocha, San Francisco

Viracocha, on Valencia Street in San Francisco’s Mission District, sells typewriters. I sent my envoy Scott over there to check out the offerings a week or two ago, and here’s what he found.

Can you name that ‘writer? No looking anything up. (For encyclopedic types, this will be a no-brainer). I’ll add my lame remarks, this is where you’ll see how little I actually know about typewriter model specifics, only really being familiar with the typewriters I own. This general ignorance is why I never make appearances among the sages on Yahoo’s Portable Typewriter Forum.

Some kind of big ol’ Olympia SG standard. I have never paid any attention to the standard models made by Olympia.

1950’s Remington Quiet Riter. I want one!

An Underwood standard whaaat? It looks 1950’s.

Royal Quiet de Luxe, 1950’s.

A Royal KMS? KM-something? 50’s? 60’s? Man, I don’t know thing one about standards.

What is this?? A Torpedo? Is this a German brand? I only know Torpedos as imposing antique standard type machines, didn’t know they made any in the 60’s or whenever this was made.

Voss… another German brand? If I had to pick one of these ‘writers, I’d take this one. I don’t know anything about Voss machines and have never seen one in the wild.

Smith-Corona clipper. Now I am on more familiar territory. 40’s?

Some kind of early IBM electric typewriter. I know even less about electric typewriters than I do about standards.

What’s that goofy long green lever on the right side? This is a quiet de luxe, right? It’s kind of hard to tell from this picture.


Oh my, that was disgraceful. Please tell me you can do better at identifying these machines.

My typewriters: a catalog

The other day I noticed Clickthing had added a visual catalog of his typewriters. I can’t believe I haven’t done this before. I can’t believe we ALL haven’t done this before. And lastly, I can’t believe how often I have the repetitive thought when reading all of your blogs: “I wonder what so and so’s typewriter collection includes in its entirety?”

And so, here’s all the typewriters I currently own (there’s now a permanent link to this at left, as well). I plan to add a sample of the typefaces shortly (to the copy linked at left, that is).

Consider this an official challenge for you to follow in Clickthing’s lead.

The Collection

I’m in a constant battle to reduce the number of typewriters I own, because let’s face it, you can only store so many typewriters (unless you have a system, like one Olivander). That said, here is the latest roster, which totals 8. Soon I plan to add typeface samples to the image gallery as well.

Here is the story of how I came to acquire this Hermes Rocket at Acme Business Machines in Arkansas. This day I spent with my dad is one of my favorite memories. Thanks Monda. Rest in peace, Ed Cordon.

Found this Lettera 22 at Deluxe Junk in Seattle, a great antique shop that usually has a good selection of typewriters.  It came with the manual and brushes and the whole bit, even a decomposing plastic typewriter cover.  I had another identical Lettera prior to this one, which I gave to Olympiaman.

This cursive Olympia SF is from Cambridge Typewriter, by way of Speculator in Maine. (See the comments of the post to hear the story behind that).  This typewriter has been my holy grail machine for some time, owing to my disappointment with my other cursive machine.

Here is a random post blathering about my Olympia SM-9. Everyone seems to have one. Here’s a scan of the SM9 manual. This is by far my most mechanically superior typewriter, with a resurfaced platen, or perhaps a new one, I forget. I bought it from a refurb place online. The typing action is literally like a new typewriter.

Bought this Hermes Rocket at Blue Moon Camera and Machine in Portland, OR. It used to look like this. Then I spray-painted it pink. People ask about how I painted it, but I really didn’t use any particular technique. Here is a post about it.

This is a really gorgeous typewriter, in person. All the details and writing on the back and whatnot is perfectly intact. It is a 1941 Royal Quiet De Luxe that I got at Deluxe Junk in Seattle, and I had it cleaned and tuned up at Ace Typewriter in Portland, OR.

This Underwood Champion 11 from 1937 is the only typewriter I’ve kept out of seven I got from a shuttered museum in Petaluma, CA. Here is a post about this dubious haul, and here is another. I still have done nothing with this typewriter; it remains in my garage.

Here is the cursed cursive Hermes 3000. Here is a post about it when it was new and I was not yet truly versed in its cursed ways. Thing is, it has a lovely typeface. Otherwise I would rehome it to the bottom of Lake Washington.

Cursive typewriter: the redemption

Thank you Tom! It’s no surprise that you had exactly the typewriter I needed.

Cambridge Typewriter

Mimeographin’ at the IPRC
The curse of the cursive typewriter

The curse of the cursive typewriter

I own but one cursive machine: this Hermes 3000. Here is an example of its typeface. This typewriter, purchased from eBay several years back, puts the curse in cursive: it arrived with shattered platen knobs, which cause me to cut my fingers every time I try and advance the carriage. Whatever that mechanism is that causes the platen to either slide paper or click from one line to the next (techies, help me out here) never seems to stay put. Plus, it’s a Hermes 3000, which is basically a mouse-colored anvil with very complicated tab stop mechanisms. It has not satisfied my dreams of owning a cursive typewriter even a little.

In its place, I dream of an ultra-portable script machine like Clickthing’s Olympia SF. (Retro tech Geneva has one too). At times I rage at the fates for not placing a splendid machine such as this in my path.

Tell me about your cursive machine(s). I must know about life beyond the prison walls of my mouse-colored Swiss anvil. Such talk gives me hope that eventually, I will find the cursive machine of my destiny.

Check out the new Cambridge Typewriter blog!

Head on over to the Cambridge Typewriter web site to read Tom Furrier’s blog — you won’t want to miss the musings of a real typewriter seller and repair technician. posts Hermes 3000 typewriter manual has posted a high-quality scan of a Hermes 3000 manual along with some interesting thoughts about using typewriters. Great post, check it out.

People who take the time to scan and post manuals help a lot of other folks out, so if you have one lying around, get it online! I’ve only scanned two but have a few more I need to work on…

Gucci typewriter tie

If one of you typospheric gentlemen doesn’t bid on the vintage Gucci typewriter tie for your next formalwear occasion, then I just don’t know what.

Tell me about my typewriter. How much is it worth? How do I get it fixed? Where do I buy a typewriter ribbon?

I get asked these questions a lot via e-mail, which exposes a fatal flaw in the overall Strikethru concept: I am not an expert on typewriters. I just like them a lot. However! There are people out there who can help you. You can find out how to contact them on the new Strikethru FAQ page.