Monday, July 31, 2017

House call

Chase Public is a Cincinnati cultural center that, among other things, organizes street typing events (they call it Short Order Poetry and Short Order Stories). I've had the pleasure of participating in street typing with Chase Public a couple of times. You can see Short Order Poetry in action in this post, and Short Order Stories in this one.

Today I stopped by to service the Chase Public typewriters, which needed a little cleaning, a couple of ribbons, and a few adjustments.

For this "house call" I prepared a bag with everything I thought I might need, including screwdrivers, screw starter, 3 rags, Soft Scrub, mineral spirits, Scrubbing Bubbles, Pledge, PB Blaster, toothbrush, dental pick, Q-tips, compressed air, and pliers. I believe I used all of those things, and needed nothing else. I also donated a copy of my book.

It's good to support this organization. Executive Director Scott Holzman told me that Short Order Poems has been very popular, and the Chase Public poets have been invited to events around the country. What great ambassadors they are for both poetry and typewriting!

Scott also mentioned that the recent New York City Poetry Festival included The Typewriter Project:

The Typewriter Project, The Poetry Society of New York’s latest concept, is a series of site specific literary installations which encourage users to go analog. These typewriter installations—wooden booths with a seat, desk, and typewriter inside—allow professional writers and first time typists alike to join in a citywide linguistic exchange. Each booth is outfitted with a 100-foot scroll of paper and a USB typewriter kit, which allows every written entry to be collected, stored, and posted online for users to read, share, and comment upon. The Typewriter Project intends to investigate the subconscious of the city by creating unique spaces designed for contemplation.

Our insurgency marches on!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A late Kappel portable typewriter

Some history, condensed from Leonhard Dingwerth's book Die Geschichte der deutschen Schreibmaschinenfabriken, vol. 2:

The Kappel factory in Chemnitz was founded in 1860 to produce embroidery machines and other textile equipment. Its first typewriter, an Underwood-like machine, appeared in January 1914. By the time of the start of the war in August 1914, the factory had 1600 workers. The company did well in the 1920s. In order to offer a small typewriter, Kappel bought the rights to the Diamant four-bank portable in 1930.

In 1931, the company declared bankruptcy, but it survived to reemerge as a limited liability company in 1932. Later that year it announced the Klein-Kappel—which turned out to be a relabeled Olympia portable, made by Europa Schreibmaschinen in Erfurt. In 1933 the Kappel Privat, a cheaper version, came on the market. In 1934 the Olympia Filia appeared under the Kappel label, with the amusing model name Knirps, soon changed to Fips (the words mean, roughly, tyke and shrimp). The VA model, short for Vereinfachte Ausführung (I almost got the word right in my typecast) or "Simplified Version," was also introduced in 1934. Meanwhile, standard Kappel typewriters continued to be produced in Chemnitz, with the model 75 appearing in 1939.

The Kappel machine tool factory was mostly destroyed near the end of the Second World War, and its other facilities were largely dismantled. In the immediate postwar period, a little industry continued in the form of typewriter repair and the manufacture of replacement parts. By 1949 the company was a Volkseigener Betrieb, or socialized "people's enterprise." However, there is no further news about its fate. Dingwerth speculates that the authorities decided that Kappel typewriters were not important enough to be revived under the challenging postwar economic circumstances.

Meanwhile, the Olympia factory in Erfurt had been severely bombed on April 13-15, 1945. The further Olympia story gets complicated, with the resumption of manufacture in Erfurt under Communist rule while a rival Olympia factory was founded in Wilhelmshaven, West Germany. Eventually the Western company gained the right to the Olympia name, and the Eastern factory became Optima.

When was my Kappel manufactured? Records list the first serial number for 1944 as 289000, and there is no information after that. My 325652 is considerably higher, but my guess is that it was made in Erfurt in 1945, shortly before the factory was bombed.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

New “California Typewriter" poster

Here's the new poster for "California Typewriter."

Eye-catching, no doubt. The website also has a new look:

The film will be showing in some theaters next month (such as the Metrograph in New York) and is available now for pre-order on iTunes.

Monday, July 17, 2017

A glimpse of the Mantelli collection (6 and last)

Some final views of Flavio's wonderful collection. 

Briggs prototype, Visible Index, Picht:

Fontana Baby, Baby, unknown tiny typewriter, Dactylette, Taurus:


Unknown machine with illustration of a gnome:

And finally, not one but two Automatics:

Flavio doesn't use any of these typewriters, for pretty obvious reasons, but when I see them I can't resist imagining typing on them. If I had a Fontana Baby, I would create at least one typecast with it. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A glimpse of the Mantelli collection (5): Blick Electric

Feast your eyes on one of the rarest and most desirable typewriters ever.

Friday, July 14, 2017

A glimpse of the Mantelli collection (4)

I forgot to post this shot of the back of the Sholes:

Two different kinds of Jackson and a Yetman:


Adler 9 (very rare and unlike all other Adlers):

Alexis, Sampo, Cantelo, Phönix:

Sampson Permagraph:


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A glimpse of the Mantelli collection (3)

Here are Flavio's beautiful examples of the first two writing machines successfully produced in series: the Malling-Hansen Writing Ball and the Sholes & Glidden Type Writer. This Sholes was sold in Vienna. 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

A glimpse of the Mantelli collection (2)

New Sholes, invented by Zalmon Sholes:

Blickensderfer no. 4 with two-row telegrapher's typewheel:

Blickensderfer Niagara #125:

Pearl, small and large Darlings, and an unrelated Darling:

More rare index typewriters:


Saturday, July 8, 2017

A glimpse of the Mantelli collection (1)

Yesterday I got to see my friend and typewriter collector extraordinaire Flavio Mantelli. With his permission, I'm sharing some photos of his mind-boggling collection, in installments. 

Here are some rare index typewriters, the Macchina Baby (Simplex look-alike from Italy) and St. Louis World's Fair Simplex:

Baby Simplex (credit card size):


Unknown non-Braille device for the blind:

Michela stenograph:

Wide-carriage Monofix:

More soon!