Friday, August 6, 2010

Olivetti Studio 44 Gray/ Beige Portable Manual Typewriter (1960s)

To call this big hulking machine a "portable" is a bit of a misnomer, particularly compared to its kid brother, the classic Lettera 32. Both the Studio 44 and Lettera 32 were produced concurrently in the 60s, and copy from an Olivetti ad featuring both machines reads: "The Olivetti Studio 44 is designed particularly for use in the house, studio, or small office, but is conveniently portable when you desire."


This particular specimen was among those manufactured in the Ivrea plant in Italy, and we were excited to find it in Geneva, but with a Swiss-German keyboard. A sticker on the back indicates that it was originally distributed in Basel. It was in fine condition, save for the usual handful of eraser rubbings that had been sprinkled liberally throughout the case.


There was much rejoicing when this machine joined our Olivetti/ Underwood stable, which includes a Lettera 32, Lettera 35, Dora, Valentine, Underwood 19 (Antares-made), and Underwood 319 (this last is now off to a good home). My Italian husband has a special fondness for Olivetti, predictably, so we had been looking forward to discovering this mid-size Hermes 3000 equivalent, which has received many favorable reviews from Portable Typewriter Forum members.


I have always considered Olivetti cases quite mediocre, and this one is no different. It is an impressive maroon wedge-shaped padded wooden box with a fake leather covering, but the hinge feels rather flimsy in relation to the size and weight of the machine. The handle, also, is rather small and does not particularly inspire confidence:


It looks for all the world like the handles on my plastic Hermes Babies, and I find it hard to believe it would not snap off, especially given the age of the case.


In terms of typing action, the size of the machine lends a long arc to the type slugs, so it writes quite well. As it also has a basket shift, I find a comparison to the Hermes 3000 quite apt. My other minor disappointment is that it has elite font, 12 characters per inch. For some reason, I expect large machines to have large fonts, which is of course hardly true.

In conclusion: Olivetti brand, Italy-made, solid metal construction (but average looks), good typing ability, basket shifted. This one's a keeper.

10 comments:

  1. I can't beliiiieve it... beautiful!

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  2. You are much too kind! Surely, you must have one of these stashed with all the others... you probably just forgot you had it :-)

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  3. Despite its size, the 44 is a very crisp typewriter, though. You can tell that it is of the same lineage at the Lettera. I am always surprised when I pull mine out from its case and type. It's nimble.

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  4. It is such a production to get the 44 out though, don't you think? I like how with the Hermes 3000, you can just lift the lid and start, but these Studio 44s need to be hefted out of their cushy wedge boxes.

    It's a pleasure to write with though, so worth the effort, I suppose.

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  5. Yes, it is a production, and that's why mine stays boxed up more than it gets used right now. Also, it requires a good bit of space once out. Not like the ultra-portables that can go right in your lap in a pinch. Resting a 44 on your lap may give you a nasty bruise!

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  6. OK, so which is better for a working writer the Studio 44 or the Lettera 32? I ask because I have leads on one of each. My Remington Victor is too slow, and the Dora lacks punch. I need a machine that'll work fast ...

    Thanks!

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  7. Paul - if space is not an issue and you are not going to be doing a lot of traveling with the typewriter, then I would absolutely recommend the Studio 44 for a working writer. It is solid, dependable, and fast - but heavy and rather bulky. The advantage of the Lettera 32 is that it is also basket-shifted like the Studio 44, and relatively fast as well. I would take both! :-) One for going on the road with, and the other to sit on my desk at home...

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  8. Thanks for the advice. I'm going to look at the Studio 44 this weekend (the Lettera 32 is going to be bought unseen, but what the heck, it's going for $24, so...)

    I think I'm going to get a second Dora too because the seller says it's never been used. What can I say? I'm a sucker?

    If you're interested in getting more Olivettis really cheaply, here in South Africa we are awash in decent machines selling for nothing. Smiths, Remingtons, Olivettis ... Check out www.junkmail.co.za. Happy to act as your local agent and postman, because I hate to see good technology getting badly treated.

    Cheers and thanks for the inspiration and a great blog.

    Paul

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  9. I recently purchased an Olivetti/Underwood Studio 44. I ordered a new ribbon and am having difficulty changing it. Can you be of any assistance. I've searched for a user's manual online to no avail. The problem is that the ribbon needs to be threaded through the two eyes (not simply set behind metal plates) and there is an eyelet that prevents that from happening. Thanks in advance if you can help.

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  10. I've just been gifted my late father-in-law's Ivrea-made Studio 44, in a nice seafoam blue/green. Same maroon case as above. Unfortunately for me, it's the Vietnamese keyboard, so more than a little awkward...

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