Here are a few moments in my initial exploration of my new Sholes Visible. (See overall photos of it in my previous entry.)
I've gotten my worktable ready, with the typewriter resting on my lazy susan and a fresh length of white paper to help me see tiny parts and tools:
A glimpse of mysterious and filthy parts, which I began to dust off with toothbrush, Q-tips, and a wire brush:
The serial number looks like it's painted on. Very unusual. You can also see remnants of the gold-and-blue pinstripes typical of early typewriters. With fresh black paint and fresh pinstripes, a Sholes Visible is spectacular. (Check out Juan Ramón Gracia's completely restored example.)
A pretty little plaque from the front of the typewriter. You can check out the patents here, here, and here. The first two are clearly for this typewriter and were filed by George B. Sholes on behalf of his deceased father, the famous Christopher Latham Sholes. The third, oddly, is for a guard to protect people from pinching their fingers in doors. -- UPDATE: A resourceful reader has discovered that there's an error on the plaque. The correct third patent number is 474,533, filed by Christopher's son Frederick Sholes, in Frederick's own name.
I wanted to understand how the machine is put together and get access to some interesting parts of the mechanism -- in order to clean them, and in order to gawk at them. First I tried something easy, removing the ribbon cups.
More is coming off:
Naturally, it's very important to keep track of all parts, including screws. (The best thing is to screw them back where they belong immediately, when possible.)
Here's another part coming off, a thick cast-iron shelf. Under it there is the usual assortment of insect corpses.
Over a century ago, a worker scratched the serial number into the bottom of the cast iron shelf:
Now I know how Howard Carter felt when he discovered the tomb of King Tut. This is the magic mechanism! Completely different from any other typewriter, the Sholes Visible operates roughly as follows. Each horizontal rod forms a single piece with a projecting small rod and a typebar. When you depress a key, the rod slides toward the center, then pivots to swing the typebar to the platen. This motion is controlled by the guide plate which I've now removed.
This is the back of the guide plate. Made of copper (or brass?), it is a work of art in itself, reminiscent of some Frank Lloyd Wright creation.
When you wet and wipe the front of the guide plate, you can see not only that it's pinstriped, but also that the diagonal areas have been treated with bluing.
I put everything back together before calling it a day. Slowly, tentatively, the dignity and beauty of this typewriter are emerging.