Friday, January 31, 2014

The elephant in the room

Well, I found a place for the elephantine Lorenz teletype that I picked up yesterday (at risk to my T11 and T12 vertebrae, as Scott Kernaghan pointed out).

Some of you will have thought of this before it occurred to me, but that's why I need a smartphone. It dawned on me only when I was there: this object belongs in WordPlay's Urban Legend Institute. So it's now on extended loan to the ULI.

Here's the machine ensconced in its nice wooden cabinet:

... with the top open:

... and with the central part open too, so you can admire the machinery:

Now for some panoramic shots of the room (thanks, iPhone). If a teletype belongs anywhere in the year 2014, maybe this is it. (Click to enlarge.)

And finally, a view through the shop window from the street. Sleep tight, Lorenz!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Lorenz Lo15 teletype: the elephant in the back seat

I thought that my library exhibit might lead to some tips on typewriters, but no one contacted me until yesterday, just before the closing of the show. Her brother-in-law was moving and had to sell some stuff, she said, including a typewriter called a Lorenz.

The name rang a distant bell and I recognized it as a brand of teletype, or teleprinter. I was curious and agreed to come out and see it (it was located just 15 minutes from my daughter's school). That's how I ended up with a 60-pound passenger in my back seat.

I don't know where I'm going to put this, and can't imagine that I'll keep it permanently, but how could I resist? They offered to give it to me, but I insisted on paying them a little something.

This is the case, or cabinet, that fits over the mechanism. It's all very clean. The owner got the whole thing for free from a business that was ready to throw it out years ago.

I don't think this label is correct. This page dates a similar machine at 1955, which fits my impression of the paint, keys, and styling. However, the model was in fact in use during the war, according to the German Wikipedia page on C. Lorenz AG, which claims that the Lo15 model was introduced in 1932, based on an American design.

Here's a video from someone who hooked a Lorenz up to a laptop and made it work. That's well beyond my skills!

My machine is a Blattschreiber or "page printer." Collector Michael Brandes has a more elaborate machine, the Lo15B, including a phone dial. Was the Blattschreiber intended only for receiving messages, not for sending them?

I welcome information from readers who understand this device better than I do.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

January's safari and guessing game

There wasn't much new in the antique mall since last month's safari, but I did see the following typewriters. Can you guess which one(s), if any, I bought? The first person to guess correctly will receive a genuine typewriter-themed postcard.

Brother Charger Correction, $25 (on sale for 20% off). You can't make it out in this photo, but where the red ribbon color selection mark usually is, on this typewriter it's white; the stencil mark is not white but silver. So this typewriter was intended to be used with a ribbon that includes a correction strip.

L.C. Smith no. 8, $99:

Remington Portable no. 1:

Price tag on the Remington. The staff at the antique mall said, "People come in and buy them for the keys, to make jewelry ..." I replied, "Isn't that a shame?!"

Royal P, $45:

Underwood Universal, $75:

By the way, these are among the first photos I've taken with my new iPhone. Yes, I have joined the hordes. It was time for a change after I dropped my old dumbphone, didn't notice that the SIM card popped out, and (as best I can reconstruct the events) vacuumed it up while cleaning house. 

I need all the help with smarts that I can get!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

We have our winners!

Mark Petersen wrote about 
Universal Typewriter Shop in Houston, Texas:

Mark's dimensional ditty goes like this:

How many typewriters would fit in a shop,
That comes up to my knees if you take off the top?

You say 'five, tops' and mutter it's tragic..,
But I'm sure there are hundreds, it's probably magic!

Reine Nust was intrigued by 
Executive Business Systems (EBS) in Kansas City, Kansas:

Reine imagines a narrative that connects KC to Amsterdam:

Steve Kuterescz has his eye on 
Allstate Business Machines in Manchester, Connecticut:

Steve's imagined dialogue reminds me of Abbott & Costello:

As for me, the shop I find most intriguing is Ken & Ray's, in Baltimore:

I imagine their typewriters saying something like this:

Another Google Street View image:

Ken & Ray's website

Thanks and congratulations to the winners, who will get $50 certificates from PrintKEG.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Let's have a contest

So, which of the typewriter shops we've seen look most intriguing to you?

Let's have a contest. Write a little something about any shop that catches your eye. It can be a poem, a pithy description, a snippet of fiction ... be creative. I'll publish your entries on this blog, and republish the photos of the shops along with your text.

PrintKEG, a printing company in South Carolina, has offered to sponsor this contest. The three people who submit the most interesting entries, in my judgment, will each receive $50 credit toward PrintKEG products such as custom postcards, t-shirts, flyers, or stickers.

Send your entry to by 11 pm US Eastern time on January 23. Preferably it will be typewritten, but it can also be handwritten or word processed. Make sure to say which shop your piece is about (the name of the shop is the name of the image, which you can see if you click on it and check the URL).

Meanwhile, here are a few thoughts on my experience of digitally touring the typewriter shops of America.

PS: This is my 250th typecast. Yay.

PPS: To make my point of view less simplistic, I should add that small businesses, including typewriter shops, that are the least bit savvy have taken advantage of the Internet to find new customers. Getting quirky individualists together is something the digital world can do very well.

PPPS: This is the Selectric I picked up at the thrift store a while ago. It's balky—it tends to backspace without cause—and its fate is to go, along with some utterly defunct Selectrics, to a high school that's going to use them in a production of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." I am in awe of people like Ted who can teach themselves how to fix one of these daunting machines!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Typewriter shops of America: Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin

This is our last installment, but keep your eye on this blog tomorrow for a followup event.

As before, for contact information, see the list of typewriter repair shops on The Classic Typewriter Page.






Precision Office Machines is housed in Suite 100 of this lovely building in La Crosse, according to recent information: