Saturday, July 30, 2011

Report on the First Virtual International Type-In

Summer 2011: Typewriter finds in Geneva II

This was part of the flea market on a cloudy Saturday morning last week. The vendors pull up in their vans and offload their wares on the pavement. Pink Panther seems to be in a rather unfortunate position... The market was not quite as populated, perhaps due to the threat of rain. Nevertheless, somewhere in that jumble, there was a typewriter to be spotted:

Predictable, no? A heart-warming sight, nevertheless, better than not finding anything at all. It occurs to me that I have not had the chance to use one of these Hermes standards, despite knowing my way rather well around their portable line. Maybe if I snuck one home and hid it under the bed, no one would notice?

This Royal flatbed Model 5 was waiting to be discovered a few meters away. The French azerty keyboard scared me off, but it was still a nice find. The only other place I've seen one of these was in  Georg's collection.

What else? Ah, this wholly-plastic Olympia Traveller S. I believe these were still being sold brand new just five or so years ago - has anyone had a chance to give them a try? It's carriage-shifted, I think; I didn't check. I wasn't even slightly tempted to ask about it, but I can see how it would be intriguing given its very recent vintage.

Before pouncing on my Underwood Universal Golden Touch, I found this Facit Privat in the same thrift store. The QWERTY keyboard was a welcome discovery (with additional Swedish letters on the bottom row, though), but the typewriter's keys would not move for love or money - it seemed completely frozen. I was too busy cooing over the Underwood to examine it any further...

Spotted at the flea market a couple of weeks ago: some fellow offering playwriting lessons advertised his services with a picture of a Swissa Junior.

Not too far from Professor Playwright, a handsome Remington standard basked in the sun. With the carriage lever on the "wrong" side and the ruler in front, it reminded me of the Continental standard I used at Herr Wepf's house back in May.

This blue '30s Royal Portable was very lovely. I don't hear much about these, anyone used one?

While this plastic Triumph Gabriele 25 was decidedly unexciting. Clean, though, and well-maintained.

I still look out for globes at the market and find plenty to look at, but I decided to only put up pictures of the more unusual ones. I think this certainly qualifies!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Dog Days That Weren't

View from the top of the Verbois dam: the funny thing is this was not where we were headed when we set out that morning, but we got sort of... well, lost. Turned out ok, though, we just walked around for a bit and then caught the next bus home. Besides, I hadn't seen the dam before, so it was an interesting excursion nevertheless. 

Along the Rhone river, the Cheneviers incineration plant. Right next to the dam, actually.

Somewhere over the Allondon river, a charming railway bridge. This was still at the time when there was an alleged drought, as the water level is low enough that one could practically skip across the stones to the other side.

It's been a while since I brought out this Hermes 3000 with its adorable Epoca typeface, so here we are. And in case you missed the post earlier this year where I showed this off, here is some type slug macro action:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Did someone say gold?: Underwood Universal Golden Touch (1958)

Often overlooked, the Underwood Universal is an excellent typewriter that can hold its own against other highly-recommended workhorses like the Hermes 3000, Olivetti Studio 44 or Lettera 32, and Olympia SM-9.

Side profile: I've always liked the elegant swoop of the carriage lever on the Underwood Universal. The taupe color is not something that would normally catch my fancy, except for...

.. that striking gold panel! (*not real gold, but still pretty darn shiny :-))

On a separate note, we have not had a full day of sun for weeks now, so I am unable to take the usual photos in natural light. Fortunately, someone around here is handy with a fancy camera, tripod, and lights so I hope these new pictures will be as appreciated as the others were. (The orange background will return when the weather cooperates.)

I don't have many U.S.-made typewriters (the only other one being a'40s Smith Corona Clipper), so it is always a joy to welcome one into the collection. After all, many of my American typosphere colleagues have at least one Swiss-made Hermes, so it is only fair that I should try some of their fine innovations as well.

Like the other highly-acclaimed typewriters I mentioned in my first paragraph, the Underwood Universal (and possibly other Underwoods of the same generation) features a light basket shift,  and typing action that is fairly rapid and precise. Unlike the others, particularly the Hermes 3000 and Lettera 32, this has not achieved "cult status" and may still be acquired for a reasonable price. What are you waiting for? (*Not to be held responsible for driving up prices of post-war Underwoods henceforth.*)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Vacation Planning

The flea market - this was in a place called Vanves, I believe - was not exactly bustling since it had just started to rain when we got there. However, we did see a few typewriters including this classic Underwood 5...

... which showed up again on another seller's table, accompanied by a stenographer's typewriter (anyone know how to use one of these? It all seems terribly complex to me.).

A Remington Noiseless that I rather liked.

Speaking of retro tech, a whole horde of these Velib bicycles have invaded Paris over the past few years, but I still haven't worked up the nerve to try one yet. I wouldn't mind the quieter streets, but navigating the grand boulevards with the same level of insouciance French cyclists seem to muster up despite having to fight for space with buses, taxis, cars, trucks, scooters... it's a tall order.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Panoply of Pens from Herr Wepf

This is only about 15% of the total received, and 25% of the total brought home for further exploration.

I could think of no better background for my pen pictures than the beautifully photographed book "Feder, Tinte und Papier" by Eric Le Collen, which I also received from Herr Wepf some time back. Here is the Parker 61, closed. 

... and open. You can just see the outline near the nib where the decorative gold arrow fell off. A distinctive mark, certainly, but the pen writes just as well without it. 

My new favorite work pen - very slim, lovely gold-plated detailing, and I rather like the world map/ time zone design. Elysee was a German pen manufacturer that closed sometime in the late '90s, this pen is marked "West Germany", so it would have been made before '89.

No branding on this fountain pen, but it is a slim piston-fill model that works quite well (used for this pencast, with J. Herbin 1670 Rouge Hematite ink).

Caran d'Ache silver ballpoint pen, in the trademark hexagonal shape that is meant to evoke the classic pencil shape. It took a lot of scrubbing to get that gleam after years of neglect, but that's the nice thing about silver - it looks great now. A timeless design that is still being made and sold; I see them all the time in stores. 

Broad-nibbed Rotring Art Pen. The long tapered stem evokes a classic dip pen, and the nibs can be swapped for other sizes from Rotring. Uses cartridges/ converters, and is perfectly fine for regular writing too.

Thanks again, Herr Wepf! I shall delve back into the box and present some other treasures on the blog from time to time.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Full Circle

One thing I really appreciated about this Hermes Baby was that it was extraordinarily clean when I found it - I haven't had to dip and dunk or get rid of decade-old caked-on grease. It's fun sometimes, but it's also nice not to have to worry about it. Sure, she may not be the best typer mechanically - a rather shallow typebar arc and a plastic feel - but at least I can be fairly sure that I received it in the state Paillard (the manufacturer) intended.

The serial number in the mid-9 millions indicates, as per Georg's write-up, that this dates from circa 1973.

Even then, it seems companies were not likely to gloat about their outsourced manufacturing. While all the Hermes typewriters made in Switzerland in the '50s and '60s proudly declared it, the badge on this just says "A Hermes Precisa International Product". It was most likely made in Brazil, and probably is of the same generation as the very first cursive Hermes Baby I spotted on Flickr and lusted after for so many months.

Here is a link to the first typewriter, a Hermes Baby, that I posted on the blog last July.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The proper care and feeding of your Olivetti Lettera 22

Today, there was a bit of a typewriter mystery at the flea market. I came across the case for an Olivetti Lettera DL/ 33 - you know, one of those fancy silver-and-black Letteras that I have coveted for ages. The case was like that of your average Lettera 32, just with silver instead of blue. So, thinking the typewriter could not be far, I combed the seller's stall hunting for it, and... zilch. I actually asked him, what was in this case? But he seemed to have no idea that it had originally been made to contain anything, and he giggled something fierce and said, "Money! And we're keeping it! Hahaha!" Sigh.

I bought the case anyway, as I have a Lettera 22 exactly like the one Algebra Girl up there is holding, and we discarded the case some time back when it started to fall apart. (That, by the way, is from a postcard that J's mum sent to us more than two years ago. Absolutely prescient.)

This reminded me that I've been shirking my ephemera posting duties lately, so here is an instruction manual for the Hispano Olivetti Pluma 22, a typewriter we acquired at the end of last summer and has been already featured on the blog.

A soft paintbrush is the recommended tool for cleaning off dust.

The proper way to lift off the ribbon cover (oops, I suppose prying it off from the sides was a rather daft idea...).

Of course it makes perfect sense to clean the typebars with a rag underneath to collect debris... why didn't I think of it?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer 2011: Typewriter finds in Geneva

It's been a pretty hot summer. Not today, though - it rained yesterday and has been unseasonably chilly all day. A nice respite from the days of relentless sun, but I hope those return too. I'm not quite ready to rediscover my collection of ragged fleece pullovers.

A favorite weekend activity this summer - as always - is making our rounds of the local markets. In addition to the usual flea market, each neighborhood in Geneva is given a weekend to organize a communal garage sale, and while I haven't yet worked up the nerve to set out my own unwanted items on the sidewalk, I don't mind browsing through others'. We went to quite a few of the markets this year, spotting the occasional Lettera 32, and then once coming across this impressive cluster: an Adler desktop (looks fun to use, look at that huge return lever!), a Hermes standard, and the ubiquitous Lettera 32 (seriously, enough already).

Of course, Lettera 32s are not the only typewriter that show up with unerring regularity in our outdoor markets: here, a Hermes Baby in the local flea market. Made of mint-green plastic, it was admittedly in good condition.

Did someone say Hermes? A '50s green Hermes Media steps out from behind a seller's table to say hello.

The thrift store did not bring many new thrills, but there was this Tippa which I was sorely tempted to bring home. However, the ribbon vibrator did not fall back down after typing each letter, and I didn't want to buy it and discover that it was a problem with no workable solutions. So we moved on.

I usually hesitate to describe typewriters as poorly-made, having shoddy construction, or just plain wretched. After all, they each have their charms and their admirers, even if I don't like them so much myself. This Remington Holiday, though, has tempted me to revise my stance. I have nothing against plastic when done properly, but the fit of the parts on this machine is atrocious. Just take a look at the bottom right-hand corner of the picture, where the ribbon cover starts to gape open.

A rather interesting find was this Underwood Correspondent typewriter, whose label claimed it was made in Canada. I've seen Leader, Star, Champion, Universal, etc, but the Correspondent is new to me. Very handsome - and it would be a stunner with a new coat of brightly-colored paint!

Back to the market, though, there was this shabby (but chic?) maroon Corona 4. And I was sort of interested, a little tempted... until I took in the peeling paint, the generous coating of dust, the mismatched ribbon spools (covers missing), the worn decals... and the seller's hefty quote of $30. Not to mention that a typebar was bent to the extent of blocking two others, and when I pointed this out he hastily proceeded to bend it back in the other direction... well, I couldn't leave his stand fast enough.

Not before taking a picture of his handsome glass-sided Royal 10...

And a less remarkable azerty-keyed brother of unknown vintage.

Also spotted on Saturday was this '70s Consul portable (model 231.3 of '69 according to Beeching). The Consul 232 is on my virtual wish list, but this one didn't do much for me. Too boxy and sharp-cornered; it was easy to pass up.

To conclude, it seems like the most interesting find this time around is the Canadian-made Underwood Correspondent! An internet search reveals nothing quite like this, although it is clearly a relabeled Universal of some sort. Any insights?
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