Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Tuxedo typer

Here are some views of the latest machine that I've rescued from the basement, cleaned up, and put back into rotation. This model has been referred to as the tuxedo, the cop car, or the penguin. (OK, I just made up that last nickname.)


This black-and-white version of the Underwood De Luxe Quiet Tab is the rarest variation. Here are two other variants from my collection (all three typewriters were built in 1956). Their designer was Paul A. Braginetz (see Robert Messenger's post on Braginetz).


I think the tan-and-brown variant usually comes with a standard pica typeface. The turquoise-and-gray variant usually comes with a quirky typeface that Underwood called Continental, in pica pitch. The tuxedo variant usually comes with with elite Continental type.
If you like Continental, you can download a digital version here.

Like all Underwood portables of the '50s, these machines are a bit rattly and do not show the best quality overall. But if you're going to get a '50s Underwood, I'd say these are the finest: they have the most features, the most striking design, and (at least in two variants) the most interesting typeface.

Here are a few more views of my tuxedo. I've equipped it, by the way, with a ribbon from Ribbons Unlimited that will type either in black or in a deep blue-black which is really attractive. (My previous post was typed on this machine, in that color.)



8 comments:

  1. Richard, these are one of the most attractive typewriters designed. The colours are perfect for the 1950s. Mechanically, as things go, they were excellent also, but where they fell down was in the quality area. Very poor would be my asessement and not at all that easy to work on. I must admit here that I did not have much experience with the Underwood portable range. In fact, as an "outside" mechanic, I dealt with standard machines 99% of the time. Of course, since I have retired and started to collect typewriters I have encountered quite a few Underwoods. I have always had a feeling of affection for the Underwood brand, stemming from my first encounter with the famous model NO.5.

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    1. Thanks for commenting. I find Underwood portables to be pretty challenging to work on, too. The mechanisms are crammed together tightly, and sometimes seem awkward. Aside from changing from carriage to basket shift, Underwood stuck with the same mechanical design from the 1920s through the 1950s, and one could argue that many obsolete ideas persisted for too long.

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    2. Agree. I only have one Underwood F-Model based portable, and it runs fine. Ones that haven't run fine got given away to someone needing parts. I just don't have the patience for them. On a side note, Typeface books I have seem to indicate that Underwood called their distinctive typeface "Stymie". I don't recall seeing it called "Continental", but they might have called it different things at different times.

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    3. Hmmm, yes, I remember your post now with the news about "Stymie." At the moment I can't recall who showed me a document with the evidence for the "Continental" name. Maybe Olivetti renamed it Stymie after buying Underwood??

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  2. I've often wondered how much these influenced the first version of the H3k machines. Sleek, rounded, attractive typewriters.

    I still do not have one of these in my collection. I have typed on one owned by someone in our typewriter group. The tan and brown combination, It was like new and a great typer.

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    1. I would guess that the DQT and the H3K are independent designs, both incorporating the typical mid-century bulbous aesthetic. But I really don't know!

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  3. Back when I was a new collector, back when I had fewer than 5 typewriters, one of these popped up at a local Goodwill for $5 and I passed on it, because it was one of the ugliest typewriters I had ever seen. I wish I could go back and tell myself to buy it because it would be great to trade with now!!

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  4. Love both my Underwood portables, and use more than my Olympias. A few weeks from fifty, I’m a bit rattlie myself, so there is that I reckon...

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