Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Smith-Corona Deluxe Secretarial typewriter

On the road to Milwaukee I picked up a big Smith-Corona for $15. The glossy gray finish appealed to me and the name wasn't familiar, so I thought there might be something unusual about it.

It must be unusual indeed, because I can find hardly any references to this model. One other blogger (not a typospherian) mentions that she owns one, some ribbons were sold with the name, and there is this little ad from January 30, 1959.

Note that the Deluxe Secretarial doesn't get top billing here, as if the dealer hardly expects that anyone will want it. The difference in price between the DS and the Pacemaker was a significant $35.50 (comparable to $300 today). I wonder whether the DS was designed as a model that would make other models look like good deals by comparison; in other words, it was not expected to sell, but to drive consumer interests to other Smith-Coronas.

So what was "deluxe" about this model? Other than the glossy paint, I can find only one feature:

At the printing point, a plastic lens enlarges the readings on the scale. A good idea, I think, but is it worth $39.50 in 1959 dollars? You be the judge.

My machine has serial number 6B3081243-11. The serial number records available on The Typewriter Database don't include any "6B" series, so I can only guess at the date of manufacture. The ad reproduced above suggests 1958 or 1959.

This typewriter needed a good cleaning and some work on the escapement. The right platen knob, as you can see, has been smashed in an odd way (anyone have a replacement?).
In my opinion, the Smith-Corona standards of this time have an attractive, streamlined design, which is brought out even more by the shiny paint.

The front "control panel" looks great.

Now, who has one of these or can tell me more?


  1. Very nice looking typewriter. It looks like it just came from the factory. I hope you enjoy typing on it.

  2. Based on a quick search of some ads, a Smith-Corona "88" Secretarial was introduced in 1953, and the Pacemaker in 1956. The Secretarial 88 looks a lot like your Deluxe --

    In 1958, ads for a "new" Secretarial -- sans "88" -- appear:

    The last two appear to have that interesting left/right margin control on the right side of the carriage.

    1. Thanks, Mark. The Deluxe Secretarial is certainly similar to the 88 and the Pacemaker, but I think it's not the same.

      The name "Secretarial" was used by Smith-Corona on its standard typewriters for quite a few years, and the automatic margin setting also appeared on several models.

    2. I was going to note how similar it is in appearance to my 88. Obviously the same basic machine, with enhancements. Yours is in much nicer shape.

  3. I have a much older Smith Corona 8-10 Secretarial (vintage 1938), painted in a shiny olive green. Perhaps its most useful feature would be a decimal tabulator; other than that, it looks pretty much like the standard 8-10 typewriters of the era, except for the color, of course.

    If I were to risk a guess, the name "secretarial" could be an indicator of the kind of usage the machines were meant to do; I mean, with features that allow for easy formatting of text (decimal tabulators, lenses with guides at the printing point, etc) I would think that they were meant for a more professional use than merely typing correspondence.

  4. This is actually a quite attractive typewriter… now if there were only rare deluxe versions of the Super 5 series with glossy paint!

  5. Sorry, never seen one in person, but it seems to have some features of the Super Speeds, which I love. I've never been that wild about the Corona smalls - but the L C Smith (Corona) standards are great, and super typers. Yours looks like a beauty!

  6. This looks to me in all the world like a '53 Smith-Corona 88. The keys are like the ones they used in the early fifties, plus the design of the feet are like one I have that was built in '53. Also, the paint job, a very good one, looks decidedly aftermarket. Good luck in finding a right-hand platen knob. You've got a nice looker there!!

    1. I did find a knob, thanks. I have no doubt that the paint is original.

    2. My 88 Secretarial just jammed the belt, needs replacing. Anyone have experience with this one? Love the blog, Richard!

  7. I just uncovered an 88 Secretarial, gummed up pretty badly. Winchester Gun Wash freed it up. Alas, the return belt jammed. Any tips on how to replace it? I have several typers that need that fix, like my nice Hermes 2000.
    Love the site, Richard!

    1. Thanks!

      Try the Ames manuals at the bottom of this page for tips on LC Smith / Smith-Corona standard typewriters:

      Drawbands on these typewriters can get jammed up if the mainspring is not turning independently from the big, flat gears in front of it (on the side towards the user). These parts can get stuck together when the old lubricant gums up. Try using a degreaser to get them to move independently.

      Here is some general advice on replacing drawbands, from my book The Typewriter Revolution:

      Normally the mainspring pulls the carriage via a drawband—a cord or strap that winds around the mainspring housing, or drum, and attaches to the bottom right end of the carriage. ... It may well be that your drawband has snapped after decades of use. You can use fishing line or a flat shoelace as a replacement. If the shoelace frays when it’s cut, some super glue can stop further fraying; the lace can be folded over and stapled if a loop is needed.
      The drawband is attached to the spring and to the right end of the carriage with knots, hooks, or screws; there may be some hardware on either end of the band that you can remove and attach to your new band. The trickiest part of this repair is usually passing the drawband under the carriage; you may want to find or fashion a long, straight rod with a hook on the end to help you do this. (Part of a wire clothes hanger may work.) You can also use a wooden skewer with a slit cut in one end that can hold the cord. Once you have attached the new cord or strap, tighten the mainspring as explained above.