Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Phenomenal Find: Olivetti Studio 42

While I am - of course - thrilled to have found this beauty (even more so because of its QWERTY keyboard, as this is a British Olivetti from Glasgow, "Made in Italy and Assembled in Great Britain"), there are a few shortcomings I discovered once I had brought it home and the flush of excitement had worn off. The most serious is that this has suffered a considerable impact at some point in its lifetime: from this angle it may look ok, but see this:

Whoa. The funny thing is that this does not affect the typing action in any way, except for an annoying click when the space bar hits the frame as you type. If you can ignore that - which I will learn to, I guess - this typewriter is perfectly functional for producing a page or two of text.

When I found it, it was propped up in such a way as to mask the damaged case, shown above. Fortunately, some glue and a couple of screws have made it whole again, although I would not trust it to fully support the weight of the typewriter. I'm surprised how flimsy it feels, though.

Here it is, as found - just ignore my giant shadow. Not easy to detect the broken case, as you can see, and I was more concerned with making sure it typed properly than checking for a bent frame. Quite impressive that despite the damage sustained, it still works so well.

I haven't cleaned it properly yet - still a bit of dust and eraser shavings to get rid of - but it was in a decent enough state to be photographed.

I think my favorite part is how the typebar cover swings out on a hinge. Beautifully designed.

It's not often that I just happen to stumble across a typewriter I have been coveting, which is why I'm naming this my find of the year (at least so far). I suppose last year's equivalent would be my script Hermes Baby, as script typewriters are notoriously difficult to find in the wild in Switzerland.

After discovering the bent frame, I thought seriously about whether I wanted to keep this or not, but I have decided that I will. It's taken me a couple of years since I first coveted one to come across this, and it has a desirable QWERTY keyboard and a crisp elite typeface (just need to clean the type slugs, though). So until I come across a better one, this will do nicely to fill up the Olivetti Studio gap in the collection (we parted with the 44, and I wouldn't want a 45 or 46). Besides, if I am bothered by how it looks in the front, I can just turn it around and admire it for a while - the back view is just about perfect :).

24 comments:

  1. A great find, Adwoa, congratulations!
    You told me a couple of months ago that you'll find a Studio 42, all you have to do is wait. So here it is! Sorry that it has a flaw (makes me wonder if there's a way to straighten that frame without causing further damage) but hey, it works and it's still generally in good condition. Yes, the typebar cover is cool indeed!

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    1. Oh, now I remember that I did write that... I guess it came to pass after all! Yes, I am hesitant to apply the force needed to straighten (assuming I could even muster it; the metal is really quite dense as you know) for fear of damaging it further.

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  2. Wonderful! What a dramatic day.

    I'm going to bet that you could pull that frame back out into its proper position with a little muscle work.

    I recently got the Hispano-Olivetti version of this model, but haven't had a chance to put it through its paces (I was too busy clearing out my office so it could be remodeled). I'll post on it in due course.

    Congrats!

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    1. I'll give it the old college try, Richard, I have already tugged a bit and it doesn't budge at all. Or maybe it's just me and this is a hint that I should hit the gym :)

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  3. Replies
    1. Don't forget to pack your muscles, Peter! Bill and Richard think this could be straightened and maybe you could take a crack at it - gently, of course... But as you will see, it types fine regardless.

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    2. My muscles are spaghetti after lugging a Galaxie all over NYC, but it was fun.

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    3. You are such a trooper, Peter! Your efforts are much appreciated and we shall have to make sure you leave with an equally intriguing find as well...

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  4. Congratulations! An award for 1 kilometer barefoot.

    Very nice typewriter. I agree with Richard. I have straightened worse and it is not hard. Muscle and sometimes a tool or two and a straight surface to check your work.

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    1. I have a new respect and appreciation for the diligent street sweepers of Geneva; no injuries to report and so I won't be needing tetanus shots, yay!

      I think to straighten this one would need more leverage - a vise of some sort? The metal isn't exactly pliable, so it will be a challenge.

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  5. Great find! This machine begs to be straightened out. I have every confidence that you'll accomplish it!

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  6. Congratulations on your find!
    It looks fantastic and very handsome.
    I, am utterly jealous.

    Haha, you should just go barefoot everywhere and flaunt it.
    Well, not everywhere.

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    1. Luckily I was wearing a long skirt, so I tried to pretend I was a hippie sort who does this all the time - I don't know if I fooled anyone, though!
      I will definitely not be omitting shoes (on purpose) anytime soon after this experience - way too many dogs in Geneva (if you catch my drift...).

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  7. Older Ollivetti's are such a stark contrast to more modern ones, aren't they? My Lettera 32, which my brother bought for $5 at a local thrift, also has a bent frame. Nevermind the missing ribbon spool cover and the broken carriage return bar (I have to weld it back on...). Nice typer as is, however.
    Great find. Local finds are always the best.

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  8. A beautiful machine, even with the bent frame. I was just thinking, two car jacks, two long pieces of wood, one strong doorway (preferably brick), and an assistant. When you've finished laughing, read on.
    Typewriter on the ground in the middle of the doorway, resting on its vented side, with the bent bar facing straight up.
    One jack on one side of the door-frame, in line with the bent bar.
    The other jack on the other side.
    Both pieces of wood on either side of the bent section to prevent scratches.
    Start tightening both jacks so that they sandwich the bar between the two bits of wood.
    Go slowly and stop (obviously) if you find it isn't working.
    It's the best idea I have.
    I didn't say it was a GOOD one.
    Still, might work.

    Either way, congratulations, Miss, on a great typewriter.

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    1. What a plan! I don't have a car (hence no car jacks) and I am afraid the doorway of my apartment seems to be made from cardboard. But I think your operation would work; it is certainly ingenious!

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  9. Nice find! I think you should invite Miguel to come to Geneva - I'm sure you've seen the Dalì-Corona 3. :)

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  10. Lucky you took the walk! I did some metal straightening on an old canoe. Strangely, it had been for a flying lesson in a tornado and landed badly. Anyway, I tried to straighten it. Brute force is a great asset, but not where typewriters are concerned. My solution involved a small collection of pieces of wood clamped together and with packing between woodworkers' C-clamps. It is possible to apply a LOT of force very gently and evenly this way. It should be as reasonable approach for steel as for aluminium frames, though not for cast iron. If it bent one way, it should bend back OK the other way, at least enough to clear the spacebar. PS: Missing your wallpaper.

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    1. Indeed, I quickly concluded that brute force was not helping in this case. Not sure what the frame is made of here, but it so happens that a tiny bit of give in the other direction (a couple of millimeters) will leave the space bar clear. Perhaps we can manage that... we'll see.

      P.S. I did away with the wallpaper! I felt in the mood for a fresh, clean look, and this icy blue is growing on me. I think it probably loads faster, too.

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  11. An amazing find, and a beautiful typewriter, even with a few flaws. (:

    You may have escaped getting a suntan, but I did not. I forgot the inescapable brutality of the sun here in the desert and went swimming during the day. (foolish, I know). now my shoulders are as red as lobsters, and I'm just waiting for the pain and peeling to start. :P

    Another high-five to you for your typewriter-hunting prowess!

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    1. You poor thing! It is not normally so hot here, but it has been unbearable these past couple of days (and this coming from someone who grew up in the tropics). I am secretly looking forward to the rain that is expected sometime in the next day or so...

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  12. This is a little trick that worked really nicely when I straightened the frame of my Corona 3 typewriter Ton nicknamed the "Dali": place it on the floor, standing on its back, with the keyboard frame facing up. Put your legs on each side of the machine, hold the bent frame with your hands located exactly on the bend, and pull gently but firmly up. This *should* help you get more leverage and make the straightening easier. Repeat as needed, or until the spacebar no longer hits the frame.

    A fantastic find, indeed! I'll have to look for one of these beauties around here... I wonder if there ever was a Studio 43?

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    1. Great job on the Dali Corona 3; just caught up with those posts on your blog! I like the sound of your method and have given it a try, with no luck so far, but I'll keep at it.

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  13. Great find. I have a Studio 42 (circa 1938) made in Italy. I have had it for over 35 years - was given it as a present when I was a young teenager and spent many an hour banging away at the keys. Despite this abuse I gave it in my younger days it is still in mint condition, complete with carry case.

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