Sunday, July 25, 2021

Shirley Jackson and Stanley Hyman's typewriters

Shirley Jackson is best known for her story "The Lottery." She also wrote many other stories and several novels before her untimely death. Recently her work has been more widely appreciated. Her husband, Stanley Hyman, was a literary critic, New Yorker staff writer, and professor at Bennington College.

This photo is blurry, but Jackson's typewriter may be a Royal portable.

Drawing by Jackson (the letter to the editor of The New Yorker is meant to be from Stanley Hyman, but it's possible that Jackson drew herself typing the letter, trying to get a raise for her husband).

The interview:


My interview with Barbara DeMarco-Barrett:

Congratulations to Barbara on this new anthology!

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Revolution in the mailbox: typewriters and border collies

A gratifying volume of letters, cards, and longer typescripts have been reaching me recently. Among them is a letter from a recent recruit to the insurgency. 

He includes an extensive meditation on typewriting and typewriters.

I was especially surprised and delighted to read this passage on the agency of typewriters:

The simile struck me because there's a new addition to my household: Della, a 10-week-old border collie. She's sweet, inquisitive, and playful. Border collies grow up to be so smart that I fully expect her to beat my words per minute—if only I can find a typewriter whose keyboard is adapted to a dog's paws.


Thursday, July 8, 2021

Dead Keys around the world

Pinamar, Argentina:


Missouri, USA:

Ontario, Canada:

Los Angeles:


Tuesday, July 6, 2021

A fake Lego fake typewriter?

Everyone knows about the Lego typewriter by now. Only one typebar moves, but the keys go down and the carriage advances. It's a cute tribute to an increasingly popular device, but in a sense, it is a fake: it can't actually type.

Today I spotted a fake of this fake typewriter! Well, that's not quite fair. The makers of this Chinese knockoff have taken care to make it different from the original Lego in several ways. It has four rows of keys, for one.

I won't be getting either of these toys, but they do have their charm and I'm sure they will be fun to build for those who enjoy Lego-style construction.

Both of these things have a ways to go in catching up with Herman Price—check out his homemade Lego versions of historic typewriters.

PS: Here are some more, as found on AliExpress!

Friday, June 25, 2021

Dead Keys now available

Here's the new volume in the series I edit with Fred Durbin and Andrew McFeaters.

Cold Hard Type IV
Dead Keys: Typewritten Tales of Terror

Can a writing machine become a weapon against evil—or a tool for it? Can it type exquisite tales of terror? Find out—if you dare—in this collection of fiction, poetry, and art. 

Contributors include Merinda Boekhoudt, Ryan Buchanan, Ken Coghlan III, Shelley K. Davenport, Séafra Duffy, Frederic S. Durbin, Gabe Dybing, David Freeman, Ian Gillespie, Sondra Holtzman, Joseph M. Jablonski, Kelye Kneeland, L. B. Kolmas, Cassandra Leoncini, Timothy Ley, Bryan Mahoney, Andrew V. McFeaters, Erich J. Noack, David W. Pedersen, Richard Polt, Kim e Revay, Heriberto Roselló, André Gene Samson, Marni Scofidio, David Tellet, Denise Terriah, Fred Von Drasek, Matthew Weaver, and Matt Wixey.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

The Cincinnati Type & Print Museum

The TrimOsaw is designed to help printers who need precisely cut wooden blocks. 

This Monitor machine inserts staples in the spines of printed booklets.

Thanks for showing me around, guys!

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Typewriter buddies

After dropping off seven boxfuls at Half Price Books today, I peeked into a nearby stationery store. It was mostly greeting cards (never knew there was a "sorry for your infertility" card) and wedding stationery. I bought a variety of colorful envelopes, and then spotted these at the counter. Had to get them!

You can get some too if you like (from Ganz).

Monday, June 14, 2021


Long live SCFACMs! Visit on Instagram to see more variations and request a hi-res file. (And yes, Instagram/Facebook is a supreme example of surveillance capitalism, but we can work within the system to undermine it...)

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Smith-Corona Vantage typewriter

The ribbon is found under a cover that swings up and forward.

The top part of the plastic shell is a bit tricky to get off.

The way the mechanism works is less than obvious.

A couple of months ago I bought this Lexikon 82 on eBay and was frustrated to discover that several characters just wouldn't print. I have no idea what to do about that, except clean the mechanism (which did nothing). So this is now a parts machine. 

The Lexikon 82 is simpler than the Vantage in a few ways: the Vantage includes two plastic paper guides, a swinging cover for the ribbon (shown above), and a half-spacer.

When I was a kid, I got a book of Milton Glaser posters, and I was fascinated by his posters for this machine, which celebrate the sheer coolness of the interchangeable typing ball. 

And yes, I still think it's cool!

Let's take a look:

Too quick for you? OK, let's slow it down:

You've got to admit it's pretty neat.

PS: Love this ad for the Lexikon 82, featuring journalist and novelist Jimmy Breslin writing a letter to "Dear Norman [Mailer]." Thanks to The Philosophy Teacher for the tip on the video!