Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Chicago

You can't beat a Chicago for looks. I wish it were easier to type on. The action is kind of stiff and clunky, and my type cylinder doesn't always rotate to the right position. If it worked better, I'd be plugging away at it!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Monarch 101 typewriter

One of my little summer projects, in between travels, has been restoring my Monarch 101. This was an eBay find, circa 2003, which I was excited to recognize and which no one else saw, so I got it for just $20 or so. Here's the original eBay photo that thrilled me.

And here's what the machine looks like today.

This rare model is a bulbous, office-sized machine that uses the Remington noiseless portable mechanism. Remington records say it was "also referred to as Model 5 1/2." So you can get an idea of the dimensions of the typewriter, here it is next to a Remington Noiseless 8, another attempt to create a larger writing machine using the noiseless portable mechanism. 

The Monarch 101 may also be found finished in wrinkle paint, and (particularly for export) marked "Smith Premier." Serial numbers range from A10000 to A11077. It was manufactured Dec. 1937-Apr. 1942.

When I got this typewriter, it was in rough condition. It had been exposed to decades of neglect in Florida, and was shipped with inadequate packing. The frame was cracked, the drawband was tangled, it was musty and rusty and dusty. Nothing worked.

Here are a few views of the restoration in progress.

I managed to untangle and reattach the drawband, and to get the typing more or less functional. It still won't grip the paper right and doesn't space correctly, but you can type a line.

I fixed the cracks in the frame using J-B Weld, touched up the paint with black marker and auto paint, and went over everything with Pledge furniture polish and a soft cloth, again and again and again. Pledge leaves an especially shiny, though not super-durable finish if you let it dry for a couple of minutes before you wipe.

Someday I hope I'll get this typewriter working well enough that it can type letters. Meanwhile, it has finally become a good-looking, eye-catching object.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Revolution in the Mailbox: From Linköping to Christiansburg and more

Many goodies were waiting in my real mailbox when I returned from London. Here's a sample. And to my correspondents, please excuse my tardiness in replying; more plans and responsibilities this month will probably make it a while before I get down to typing letters.

First, there's good news from Linköping, Sweden:

Next, and speaking of telegrams, the good news continues with an impressive mill-typed message from a certain typospherian. (A mill, for those who don't know, is a capitals-only typewriter used for transcribing telegrams.)

Also in my mailbox was this "antholozine" from Poems While You Wait, a dynamic team of street poets in Chicago.

The book collects some of the group's best poetry, all typewritten, and also includes a reflection by Eric Plattner on the demise of Chicago's Independence Business Machines. I'll extract one page here.

Finally, my thanks go to the correspondent who sent me a copy of the first issue of Footnotes, a new Swiss periodical about type design. Among other things, this issue includes a 1962 article by Alan Bartram on typewriter typefaces. Here is one page that includes some very interesting proportional typefaces used by Underwood on its rare Raphael.