Wednesday, July 31, 2013

They're everywhere!

In the London borough of Islington, in your typical Persian-Ethiopian-Cypriot-Vietnamese neighborhood ...

... there's an office above a print shop, full of glorious clutter ...

... with text-producing machines from the early 20th century to the early 21st lurking everywhere ... 

 ... and Jim Pennington is in the midst of them.

 Jim came to London type-ins no. 2 and no. 3 a few days ago. I thought the least I could do was pay him a visit at his digs in return. It was well worth it.

Jim's Imperial 70 was a new experience for me -- these just don't exist in the States -- and it has a very unusual character ... 

... which lends itself to some creative poetry by Jim: 

Under a dust cover was hiding a British Oliver no. 9. Jim had attached the carriage using string especially made for Maltese hunters to tie to the leg of a decoy bird. Of course!

This ultra-wide-carriage Olympia SM3 with sub-elite type ...

... may make it possible for Jim to type "Howl" on a single line.

 ... And when he talks about the Beats, he knows what he's talking about. Yesterday I picked up this copy of Naked Lunch ...

... and today I found out that Jim actually met Burroughs on more than one occasion, and printed a collection of his stories!

Other typewriters in Jim's office include a French-Swiss-keyboard Remington Noiseless Portable, the Arabic Optima and Smith-Corona Clipper shown in my previous post ...

... two Glasgow-made Olivetti Lexikon 80's ...

... and an Italian-made Lexikon 80E.

I've been jealous of Ryan Adney's 80E and was excited to have a go at this one. 

It makes a racket when the carriage returns and needs some other work too, but you can tell that when working 100% it is a very fast, very easy typewriter. I'm impressed.

Thanks, Jim, for a great visit.

After Jim's, I decided on a whim to visit the British Library.

What do I find in the gift shop, paces away from the Magna Carta, a Gutenberg Bible, and Leonardo manuscripts?

Adler no. 7

A Kolibri just like mine!

ca. 1930 Underwood portable

Olympia SM8 next to I Could Pee on This

Remington Quiet-Riter

I think it's great not only that typewriters are recognized as cool props for a library shop, but also that they have to be protected from curious fingers by being kept in plexiglas cases or marked "Please do not touch." Our favorite machines have magnetic power.


  1. I too am curious about the Lexikon 80e.

    Ugh, the Groma Kolibri is so stunning, I don't think I can resist hunting for one.

  2. I concur. The Kolibri is very tempting...

  3. Ton, you're an Olivetti man! Resist the the siren call of the Kolibri! (that would make it harder for me to find one, dagnabbit)

    Isn't it great to have instant access to a wide variety of wonderful machines that other people have to look at under plexiglass and not touch? :D

  4. That Olivetti 80E is the strangest-looking typewriter they ever put out!

    It must be wonderful to see typewriters out and about like that.

  5. Do you have any pictures of the SG3's 'sub-elite' typeface? I would very much like to see it.

    What an interesting collection of machines Jim has. The and/or key on that Imperial is simply amazing. Lust!

    1. I didn't take a picture of the typeface, sorry.

    2. Here you are... I've put it up in the Typewriters Yahoo group photos. I'd have done this sooner but work got in the way..

      It really is tiny but beautifully crisp (though I think that's because it has a carbon ribbon fitted). There was a note from the previous owner that said it was for use in newspaper printing and that it may well have been on board a Royal Navy ship.

      and Richard.. thanks for coming by .. it was a pleasure to have you visit and this post was a treat for me to see.

    3. Thanks, Jim, I've added your image of the Olympia's typing to this post.

  6. An arm and a leg I would give unto thee, but to own my own Lexikon 80E. What a picture of joy I would be, I would be if I owned my own Lexikon 80E....

    Children's poetry aside, what is Jim's proffession? I would like to be employed in his field if it involves as many Lexikon 80's as your photos suggest.

    1. He is a printer, and works in the printshop downstairs.

  7. What a great post! Those Lexikons are very eye-catching, I wonder if I'll ever come across one.

  8. Great post, wonderful finds. I thank you especially for the video.

  9. Ha ha, you all want a Lexikon Electrika but just try lifting one! Think heavy and then add a bit more... and a carriage that crashes back..the next model was the MS84 which was not any lighter. To be fair all the standard office electrics weighed a ton, I know because I had to carry them,lol.
    From memory, the little lever on the right was a repeat lever, so if you struck the Underscore or Fullstop that lever would make those keys repeat....

  10. That small print was called Micro Elite. I sold one to a photography business who used to print in the bottom margin the names of the people in the photo.. I think it was 20 pitch but I am not sure.

  11. Jim has quite a collection. His place must be a fantastic place to visit. My wife gets mad at my sick left over from broadcasting sense of humor -- I love that display of 'Don't Pee on This' beside the typewriter protected by the cover just as if the library expects someone or something to come along and --- well you get the picture. I do home it is meant for the tie even if that is a Japanese Olympia,

    I'd love to have that old Adler or a Lexicon 80, or a Kolibri or a (the list goes on)

    Glad you are enjoying your trip Richard. Thanks for sharing.

  12. What a fun post to read first thing in the morning! I am all chuckling with entertained amusement! Love these vicarious experiences you are offering to us Stateside!

    1. Well, I just got back to the States -- currently I'm in the Detroit airport -- so that's the end of it, except for one leftover typecast that will be coming up next. I'm glad that you've enjoyed the stuff.

  13. Looks like typewriter heaven to me! Thanks for sharing so many great photos!

  14. I may just get you be an official guide to a city I know less than I should. You'll be home by now and I hope you had a safe and comfortable trip.