All posts in Typewriters

Tricked out typers: the gold rush is on

Amendment to this post: note that it is not a critique or endorsement. It’s an observation about marketing strategy. OK, with that said:

I’m going to officially declare (where are the officials to make this official?) that we’ve arrived at a tipping point in the sale of tricked out typers online with my recent discovery of Kasbah Mod (thanks to a colleague for the tip). “Now the Biggest Retailer of Ace-Quality Vintage Typewriters in New York City.” (The biggest? To set itself apart from the crowded New York market for vintage refurbed typewriters?) Let’s set discussion of prices aside (their prices seem pretty standard for refurbed typewriters aimed at non-collectors) and focus on the hot rod paint jobs (click through to page two for some notable examples, the site doesn’t let one link to specific machines). Typewriters have been marketed as style pieces for some time, but I think New York is taking this to a new level at the moment (Brady & Kowalski is another example), and I’d be shocked if other businesses don’t soon follow suit.

Perhaps the market has been goosed by Jessica Bruder’s New York Times piece with which most typecastinistas are familiar, appearing as it did on the style page. Let me say this: although the typosphere has been painting ‘writers for some time, note that New York has fired the starting gun on a general trend of bucks to be made from refurbished, repainted typewriters, marketed stylishly, and promoted on teh social medias to the young whippersnappers. Mind you, this is a different spin than sturdy machines for serious writers (which is how typewriter resellers have marketed them up to this turning point), and depends upon eye-catching paint jobs and gorgeous web sites (eBay won’t do. Is there a web site, incidentally, that is uglier and more out-of-date looking than eBay?).

If you’re handy with web design, a paint gun and three-in-one oil, I suggest you grab your gold pan and start sifting up big profits in your neck of the woods.

Silent Type 3, and bonus wall collages

It will be a small zine, smaller than the last one perhaps, dimension-wise, so there’s going to be some serious restrictions about the content submissions. Got to think this one out more. Nothing happening yet, just thought I’d throw that traffic jam vision out there… but that said, who’s in? Can I get a witness?

Here are some crappy photos (why don’t I ever take pictures during the considerable part of the day where there is natural light in the room?) of two wall thingies in my office, one of them a cork board collage, and the other a shadow-box, of things typospherian. Surely some of you mail art types have something similar, yet vastly superior, to share.


Snohomish Type-In 2: Pictures

Last weekend, Snohomish WA had its 2nd type-in at Uppercase Books. I took some video in response to a challenge somewhere out in the typosphere to videotape people typing, but didn’t realize the challenge had to do with a specific date in June.

Anyhows, here are still pictures from the videos. I may never get around to editing/uploading the vids, but hoping this will do for now…



Type-in prize: sketchbook (and a side note about copic markers)

Thanks to the Lambs of Snohomish, charming folks indeed, for another fun type-in today.

Since Little Flower Petals was not in attendance, I actually had a shot at the typing speed contest victory, prize of which you’ll see below.

Uppercase books sells these altered-book notebooks, which I recommend as excellent sketchbooks because of the binder rings and hard backs (unless you feel that eviscerating old books in this way is tantamount to key chopping, which I don’t, due to their overwhelming abundance).

I used my prize today to practice drawing with a few copic markers that I picked up on the advice of the visual designer Eva Lotta-Lamm in this excellent presentation on visual note taking, or graphic recording, which is something I’ve been posting about recently.

Copic markers have one end with a tapering, flexible tip, like a paintbrush, and the other end squared off, like a white board marker. They are good for adding drop-shadows and color accents to black and white drawings, and they are as expensive as hell. (Side note, the art shop where I bought mine told me they’d had $2k worth of the markers stolen earlier that week).

They are lots of fun for coloring in doodles and such, and price aside, I highly recommend them.


Microsoft Museum’s retrotech collection

Was passing through the Microsoft Museum yesterday and took a few photos of their collection of retrotech with my crummy cell phone camera. To give you an idea of how the display actually looks, this person’s Flickr photo captures it more effectively. The whole of the museum is devoted to big ol’ Xbox Kinect game stations and Microsoft Surface stuff, and all manner of modern Microtech, but there is a corner when you first walk in devoted to the origins of tech, where you can even pose for a scary 1970’s picture with the founders.

Note: A small favor. Should you be kind enough to leave a comment on the post, please don’t trash the ‘soft. I work there, and trust me, I’ve heard it all before 😉

Interview with Matt McCormack of Ace Typewriter

Just found this interview from last October with Matt McCormack of Ace Typewriter in Portland, OR, done by WORK, which is an internet zine about, well, work.

Relatedly, if you haven’t seen it yet, I made a random video of a visit to Ace a couple years back. Matt appears very briefly behind the counter in a couple frames.

Note: I feel compelled to mention my unauthorized use of the great song “Tomorrow, on the Runway” by the Innocence Mission in this clip.

Pen review: Pilot Plumix fountain pen

Today I am reviewing the Pilot Plumix, a $7-ish fountain pen intended for calligraphy. (Thanks to Jet Pens for giving me this pen to review).

Ok, so, after a third one of these pen reviews (in the review I called it my first, although it’s the third one I’ve posted), it’s clear that I lack the critical chops to be a true pen reviewer. See the links below this post for some examples of how to write a pen review. I will add to my comments below that I rather like the faded blue ink of this pen (picky dark-ink purists won’t like it but it rather reminds me of old blue jeans), and use it every day at work. It combines the fun of writing with a fountain pen with some of the practicalities of cheap pens (it’s not a crisis if you lose it) and the ink flows conservatively and does not bleed through paper (which is a common feature of nicer fountain pens. The cheap ones don’t seem to do this, is it me?)

This review is rather helpful about what this pen is for and how to write with it. A recommended read. As a bonus, here is a critical review of the pen, complete with a creepy doll head.

Pen review: Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen

Currently I’m reviewing some pens kindly sent to me by Jetpens.com for this purpose; my previous installment was about the Mitsubishi Uniball Signo gel pen, and today I’m reviewing the Platinum Preppy fountain pen.

Before now, my experience with fountain pens has been limited to the Lamy Safari and the Pelikan Pelikano. I’ll say right off that the Platinum Preppy is far cheaper than both of these, and better than one of them.

As I’ve already established in my prior review, do check the Office Supply Geek for a more thorough and professional assessment of this pen. He’s a pro. However, if you’re just looking for bad pen drawings of pens, Strikethru’s your (wo)man.

Pen review: Mitsubishi Uni-ball Signo DX

There’s something about pens. You know what I mean. Hunting for the perfect one is a game that never gets old. This is why it pleased me greatly when Jet Pens sent me a few to review on Strikethru. But why should I have all the fun? I am going to post the reviews one at a time, and then when I’m done, have a giveaway of a couple pens. ‘Cause it’s good to get pens in the mail.

I’m going to start out with the Uni-ball Signo DX. It’s a micro-tipped gel pen that comes in a mess o’colors. But first let me stop right here if you’re in the mood for a comprehensive review from a legitimate source, and point you Office Supply Geek. Because let’s face it, my reviews are generally just excuses to write with pens. But that said, here’s mine (I may have referred to this pen as a roller-ball in the scrawls below, when it is actually considered a gel pen. It may be both. Sadly I dropped out of Pen U before earning my PhD in pen taxonomy):

Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper

I plan to contribute something to the Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper. The deadline is Sunday, August 2nd, 5 pm EST.

What about you?