Thursday, October 18, 2012

An Enchanting Find: Olivetti Lettera 22 (Pink)

Yikes, *celebrate* is what I meant to type.

Here is the Lettera 22 as spotted in the wild; the blue board bears the name of the flea market seller I purchased it from. (Behind it you can catch a little glimpse of an Elna Grasshopper I left behind; I have one already that I will show off soon.)


Thank you all for your guesses, by the way - some very interesting choices! I think an Olympia SF would have been more likely to find overall (since it's European-made and generally more common here). But a Royal QDL, as lovely as that may have been, would have been too large for me to carry home (while stopping to grocery shop on the way) - not that it would have stopped me from trying!
Here is the case, still very well preserved. Is it just me, or is the zipper pink as well? Talk about attention to detail!

When I brought this home, I immediately looked up "pink Lettera 22" to see how many there were out there. Turns out: not very many, at least in this shade of pink. There have been a few sold on eBay UK in the past few years, and Robert Messenger also has one that he sold earlier this year.

The thing about all those eBay UK and Robert's pink Letteras, is that they were made in the Glasgow factory (by British Olivetti). Now, it seems they had a vat of paint that was significantly darker than what their colleagues in Ivrea were using. As you can see, Robert's Lettera is a dark salmon pink, too different to be merely a change in lighting conditions.

It's been a while since we found an Olivetti made in Ivrea; a lot of Barcelona makes have passed through our hands more recently. Nothing against Spain, of course, but I like to be authentic and so this was a welcome bonus.

A closer look at the bubblegum-pink color (more of a dusky rose, actually) and classic round keys ( I have noticed that the Lettera 22s made in Glasgow had square keys for some reason).

In the interest of full disclosure, these pictures have been over-exposed ever so slightly, as the light was rapidly fading when I had time for a photoshoot. Still, the end result shows the color of the typewriter as it would be in full daylight (take a look at the market picture for comparison).

The original guarantee dated 30 June 1960, showing the serial number (it matches up) and the place of purchase: Grands Magasins Innovation SA. I looked up the store and found out it was in the center of Geneva on the Rue du Rhône (present day Globus) and went bankrupt after a fire ravaged the premises in December 1995.

Instructions for first use: "How to free the machine from the cardboard and paper packing."

Front page of the brochure that came with it, showing two other colors of the Lettera 22. This makes four that I know of: pistachio green, blue, pale pink, and taupe/ tan. However, the Glasgow factory also produced salmon pink and teal Letteras, which I will take to be variations of the pale pink and pale blue.


Another page of the brochure shows an ad for the Lettera 22.

And the last page shows the typewriter's special features, as well as the list price (I think) of CHF 328.- The 198 written in pencil is - I believe - referring to the list price of the Skyriter (written on the brochure I found in the case, which I shall post later), and so the buyer probably made the note in order to compare the two.

A couple of pages from the manual here -

No need to post the whole thing since it is in French and the English version can be found easily online (for example on this site).

Whew! And now that she has made her debut, little Miss Lettera is packed safely off to rest. As you may have noticed from the typecast, she came with an ordinary pica typeface and I have fitted a blue cotton ribbon. It would have been just too perfect to find a portable that was both pink and script, but as I have other lovely script machines to use, I don't mind too much.

It has been a while since I came across a find this thrilling - well worth breaking my vows of typewriter chastity! Now fingers crossed that Retro Technica this weekend will not test my resolve any further...

25 comments:

  1. pink with envy! :) congratulations! it's every gal's dream to own a pink tappy. <3!

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  2. It's ironic that I did not guess an Olivetti at all, and it's a Lettera 22 at that! I didn't realize that the particular shade of pink- "blush" or "flamingo pink" is how I'd describe it -occurred in nature for the L22. And the ephemera are the coolest, that's always a welcome bonus.

    Congratulations, Adwoa!
    Really happy to know that you've found an Olivetti that makes you blush. (:

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  3. Nice score! My tan one has that kind of case as well - it mounts on the bike very well with that configuration of handles. It's stiking how much darker the other pink is, maybe they mixed it themselves.

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  4. Well, I think you got the best deal, with pica and all:)

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  5. What a beautiful machine! I must confess that, if I came across a pink Lettera 22, I'd be more than happy to buy it. XD Alas, in my country I've only seen them in the nice, but oh-so-common bluish green shade.

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  6. A lovely find, indeed! I *LOVE* this kind of typewriter success story.

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  7. Excellent!! She looks great, and the paperwork is very nice too. Congrats.

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  8. Congratulations! It´s the first time I see a pink Lettera 22.

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  9. @shordzi: Never say never, indeed :)

    @aitypes: Indeed; I always wondered if I would be fortunate enough to come across one!

    @Ton: I didn't know how to give you a wink and a nudge without giving the whole game away :) Nevertheless, I am glad to be able to teach you something new about Olivettis - you know so much now!

    @notagain: Yes, I could see how well this would fit on a bike.. not that I'll be trying it anytime soon myself!

    @Deek: You know, I don't mind it too much - it is getting to the point where I look around and wonder if I have any machines that just write in plain pica! And here comes a lovely specimen...

    @Miguel: Before this weekend, I would have said also that I had never come across any pink Letteras! So you see, you can never tell what will come your way someday.

    @Cameron: As do I, but happy tales have been few and far between on this blog lately! Glad I have one to post today.

    @Richard: The paperwork makes it that much more special - I am glad the original owner kept so much of it.

    @Uriel: Believe it or not, it was my first time too. I once came across a pink Lettera 32 in a collector's house, but it was a much darker pink, almost red.

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  10. Congratulations!!! I have never come across one that color, not even a picture.

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  11. What a lovely buy Adwoa! I was eagerly checking into your blog constantly for the past 2 days to see which pinky you actually bought!

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  12. Congrats!!! I am still hunting for my pink dream...now that I know the lettera 22 comes in pink too...i can widen my search...hehehe.
    And the case is gorgeous!!!!

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  13. A very nice presentation; thanks for showing the contents of the paperwork!

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  14. Well...it's not the Olympia I had hoped you found, but it is a most lovely typewriter! I, too, had never seen a 22 in this color. I imagine Ton's cheeks are near this same color with envy over such a beautiful Olivetti! I love finding paperwork with a typewriter. Gives it so much more history...

    Congrats!

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  15. Awesome!!!
    I actually have one pink typewriter and it is a L22. If I remember right it's made in Glasgow which I somewhat minded bc I had read that the scots made an inferior product. My wife is half scotch-Irish so this made her want me to get it even more so I got it for a good price too considering most pink typewriters go for at least a couple hundred dollars.
    I tried it and compared it to my Italian L22 and I have to say I could t tell a difference. Perhaps I got lucky and they are both perfect or maybe they both are equally flawed haha.
    Congrats on your newest prized piece! Those extras are breathtaking and make your new acquisition all the sweeter!

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  16. Sweet!

    Those prices are particularly interesting: The Lettera would cost Fr. 1370 today, the Skyriter Fr. 830.

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  17. Congratulations!, What a great find at a great price! And in great condition yet. I recently saw a pink lettera 22 go on eBay for some £120. Thanks for sharing the ephemera too. I really love the illustrations in the brochure.

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  18. Very nice. In italy a Pink 22 is sold more than 200 Euros.

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  19. Beautiful. I wish I can go typewriter hunting in Switzerland!

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  20. Beautiful. I wish I can go typewriter hunting in Switzerland!

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  21. Beautiful. I wish I can go typewriter hunting in Switzerland!

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  22. Hi all, I have just bought a Lettera 22 Ivrea - looks the same as this one but it blue. The typewriter has the number '1' key which doesn't seem to be on any of the others I have seen online. Does anyone know if they came out with the '1' key.. or perhaps it was added at a later date.. but it looks authentic... so not sure? Thanks!

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  23. What a lovely pink for a lovely and nice lady like you! thanks for sharing. :)

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  24. Hi, your Lettera 22 is wonderful! Unfortunately, here in Italy there are many fake pink ones. Do you know if the bottom must be pink too?

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