Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Friday, April 26, 2019

Optimizing the Optima

This is the Optima Super that I call The Belle of the Insurgency. You may recognize her from my book.

When I found her in 2011, she was a sorry sight and needed a long bath in Evaporust before she could be used and repainted.

Recently, I keep noticing Kia Optimas ... and this gave me an idea.

You can easily find an Optima emblem on eBay.

Not bad, huh?

This got me thinking: how many other names are shared by typewriters and cars?

I came up with the following list. Can you add to it?


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Free Breker catalogue

As usual, in my capacity as editor of ETCetera I received a copy of the latest catalogue from Auction Team Breker in Cologne, Germany. And as usual, I would like to give it away to an interested reader of this blog.

The beautifully printed catalogue (it smells good, too) includes hundreds and hundreds of fine photos of mechanical antiques that will be auctioned by Breker on May 18, including a few antique typewriters. The most special one is a Malling-Hansen Writing Ball, serial number 103, which may bring $100,000.

To get this catalogue, simply be the first person to e-mail me with your address. US mailing addresses only, please.

UPDATE: Taken! The catalogue is going to a reader in California.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Melancholy safari

This eerie factory on Cincinnati's West Side sums up my current mood.

"LUNKENHEIMER: The One GREAT Name in Valves"

My peregrinations through the city and neighboring towns on Saturday yielded a few typewriter sightings:

$125 for a Brother-made Sears portable, "as seen on Etsy for $275." No, at that price I certainly will "Not Play with typwriter."

$25 for this Smith-Corona Silent with a disconnected "I" typebar link and a bit of rust. The case is missing some hardware and is not quite like any SC case I've seen before; it's like the '50s "Holiday" cases, but is made of brown plastic. 

$75 for a wide-carriage Underwood no. 6 with a dealer's ad in an unusual place.

$85 for the notorious "Satanic" Brother-made Remington, the 666. 

$34 for this L.C. Smith Super-Speed that has seen happier days.

$125 for a wide-carriage Royal.

$175 for this "rare" olive-green L.C. Smith Secretarial.

Being a cheapskate, I bought the $25 Smith-Corona. It can be restored to support WordPlay.

Saturday, April 20, 2019


Just some views of a 1924 Royal 10 that I finished servicing today. It needed cleaning and new feed rollers. This typewriter belonged to my customer's great-grandmother. At some point it was rebuilt by Regal. (I would guess in the 1930s, since later rebuilds tended to alter the typewriters with plastic keys, wrinkle paint, and other "modern" touches.)

Monday, April 15, 2019

An encouraging letter and a mutual surprise

I haven't posted anything on this blog for a couple of weeks, due to lots of academic activities and personal matters. But here is a lovely letter I received today, which I thought I'd post in case my readers would enjoy it. I'm particularly happy to see a typewriter lover who's inspired to spread the love.

On another note, I invited Christian humanist Alan Jacobs to speak at Xavier, and this afternoon we had a mutual pleasant surprise. I found out that he follows this blog (hi, Alan)—and he had not realized that I was its author!