Monday, November 26, 2012

The paper-grading dream team

Hermes 2000
This 1939 typewriter was the sole '30s machine in my lineup -- I love the looks of typewriters from the '30s but tend to favor later ones for heavy use. This one is precise, effective, but not a great pleasure to write on. With a little help from stick-on bits of felt, the spacing is extremely quiet. The Teflon lubricant also had a great effect on this machine. There was some gummy stuff in the segment that I could not seem to eliminate, not even after removing and individually cleaning all the typebars. Some Du Pont Teflon dry lubricant did the trick. (See here for Scott's experience with a similar product.)

Remington Quiet-Riter
It's chunky, it's kinda clunky, it's not the fastest horse in the stable, but I'm still very fond of this machine. It has lots of features, is robust, and feels satisfying to me. These must have been popular in Cincinnati in the ’50s, since for a while I was finding one every couple of weeks in the thrift store. Sadly the supply has now dried up.

Torpedo 18 (purple)
This is the legendary (?) Purple Prose Producer. It's a fun rat-a-tat-tat typer that grades in purple, of course.

Torpedo 18 (black)
Here's the Purple Prose Producer's sober and rational brother. This one has a professionally recovered platen and is very smooth. I could use it for a long time. My only complaint is the return lever, which I don't find totally ergonomic.

Royal Administrator
This typewriter (the wide-carriage version of the Royal Diana) is a good, snappy writer. It's kind of noisy, though, as the Magic Margin springs musically sing along with every step you take.

Voss DeLuxe Silver Surfer
I just love Vosses. The carriage return has the perfect feel. It is a carriage-shifted typewriter so it's a little harder to handle than most of the other machines in the lineup, and while the typeface is beautiful on this one, the alignment isn't perfect.

Smith-Corona Silent-Super
Smith-Corona at its best. The parallel key action (which keeps the keys horizontal as you type) makes the feeling very nice. The return sounds kind of rattly, and I think this typewriter deserves a Polt Silencer.

Adler Special
This big baby types along with a satisfying pocketa-pocketa. But even with Teflon, it is not the smooth and snappy Adler that I dream about.

Olympia SM3/9 (Twolympia)
This is my most elaborate typewriter-modification project ever, an SM9 squeezed into an SM3 body. With a carbon ribbon and its fancy Congressional typeface, it produces beautiful work.

Hermes 3000 Silver Surfer
Damn, this looks good! Once you remove the dull gray-green Hermes paint, this model is really a stunner, I must say. The Teflon helped to improve the typing experience on this machine and it was fun to use, although it is not particularly fast compared to an Olympia or Torpedo.

Hispano Olivetti Studio 46
I was most surprised by the performance of this machine: it has a very light, very quick touch. Made in 1940 (approximately), it has some retrograde features compared to later machines, including carriage shift and a rumbly carriage return, but it is a very practical writing machine -- except for the fact that it doesn't have an apostrophe. I had to use the acute accent ´  and remember to space after it, since it's a dead key.

Royal KMM
This 1947 gray workhorse isn't flashy, but nothing beats it for speed and snap.

I have other favorite typers, but these are the ones I used for my grading extravaganza. I enjoyed them all. Which was best? I'd say the black Torpedo, the Twolympia, or the KMM. Which was perfect? None. I am glad to say that I'm still looking for the Platonic form of a typewriter. The search keeps this hobby interesting!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The quest for an Adler Universal

Postscript: Since writing this post, I have actually acquired two Adler Universals! So I am no longer in search of one. You can read about mine here.


As some of my regular readers may recall, I have developed an obsession with getting an Adler Universal. Some other typospherians have one, why oh why can't I?

(This October post shows my Adler Special -- good typewriter, but definitely not a Universal.)

I thought my ship had come in when I spotted an eBay listing for a Universal in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, only about half an hour away. I contacted the seller to make sure it would be OK to pick it up in person. But the next time I checked, the auction had mysteriously ended because the item was "no longer available"!

A followup message to the seller, expressing my disappointment, got no answer. Now, some of the other photos on the auction were at a tiny thumbnail size, which raised my suspicions. Could it be that the seller had copied photos from elsewhere, knew that her typewriter did not match the photos, and withdrew her auction in embarrassment? Do any of you recognize this photo from some other source?

Be that as it may, this morning I was glumly wishing I could find another for sale -- when what do I see on the local craigslist but this?


I called the seller and found out that she lives just a couple of miles away. I have an appointment to see the machine at 4 pm today.

But ... take a look at that photo: it's the same one as the one on eBay! Even the date, 1961, is the same. It's obvious that this seller got her information from eBay and did not take a picture of her actual machine.

I asked the seller whether the photo is the model on offer, and she said yes. But I am bracing myself to discover that it's in fact a completely different Adler model.

This post is a cliffhanger. I will update it as soon as I can, either with a triumphant picture of my new Universal or with a sad disappointment. To be continued in about 5 hours after the asterisks ...


OK, the story has ended sooner than I expected. The "seller" called back to say she doesn't even have the typewriter (whatever it was) anymore! She thought that it hadn't sold when they auctioned off most of their property, but in fact it did.

So my quest continues.

This is a typical craigslist story -- the sellers are even flakier than on eBay. Sometimes, though, I've found very nice things on craigslist, like this and this.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Diamant 28 typewriter

... The most eye-catching part of the Diamant 28 is its slotted segment -- a high, substantial piece.

The designers of the machine seem to have been obsessed with stability and security. On each side of the machine there's a rotating metal piece (A) and together they immobilize the carriage. Furthermore, the more conventional carriage lock (B) stops the carriage, prevents shifting, and locks the keyboard. The typewriter is definitely designed to be used on its base; in order to remove it from the base you have to unscrew the 4 feet from the bottom, and unscrew a further tab (C) on each side.

DSF stands for Diamant-Schreibmaschinenfabrik. The company was based in Frankfurt.

The earlier Diamant (model 1) was a three-bank portable reminiscent of the Corona, but not folding. Here's an example (not mine, but seen on eBay a few years ago). Some of these were exported to England and named "Diamond."

According to Leonhard Dingwerth's history of German typewriter manufacturers, Diamant was bought out by Kappel in 1930. The factory then produced a few Diamant-style portables with the Kappel name, but these are also hard to find. The example below is from Herman Price's collection.

I'd be interested in hearing from anyone else who has a Diamant 28. My serial number is 16545.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The generous typosphere

My generous readers have given great gifts to WordPlay Cincy, the typingest place in Cincinnati, Ohio.

First, thanks to Nicole for her cash gift to the organization! (You can donate too.)

Thanks to Ton for donating his Jetson-y Olivetti Studio 46! It's a sturdy and bold typewriter from the '70s, busily typing away in green here under the skilled fingers of a WordPlay volunteer. (You can also see the Smith-Corona I donated, and if you look closely, the Underwood no. 5 I cleaned up.)

Thanks to Nat of natslaptaps for donating this bright blue Royal Sahara! I may have to get one of these myself -- it's light, smooth, and precise. This young man's eyes lit up as soon as I brought it in the door, and right away he was taking a look under the hood. (Nat is Australian, but the typewriter did not travel all the way from Australia; she paid for an American-to-American transaction via US eBay.)

Thank you, donors!

Here are three more views of the activity at WordPlay today.

Typewriters and smartphones in symbiosis. We can all get along!

Typewriters are for everyone: here's a grownup at an Underwood Junior and a not-so-grown-up at an Underwood Noiseless Portable.

Even electronic wedges can get some love:

And here are some pictures I think you'll enjoy from WordPlay's Facebook page.