Sunday, May 30, 2021

Typewriter Hawaiian shirts

Would you wear this?
How about this?

If the answer is yes, search for “typewriter unisex Hawaiian shirt” on eBay right now and you’re in luck. Also available from the manufacturer, Aloha Sunrise

Wednesday, May 26, 2021


I’m very touched by this hand-drawn thank-you card from one of my favorite students, based on one of my favorite typewriters.


Saturday, May 22, 2021

Post-pandemic safari

The pandemic is over!

Well, no. But for those of us lucky enough to be fully vaccinated, life can return to a semblance of what it once was. That, of course, includes hunting for typewriters.

So I can now revive a game I've played many times before on this blog. Here are the typewriters I saw today at the antique mall. I bought at least one. Can you guess which typewriter(s) I brought home? I'll post the answer in the comments tomorrow.

Royal KMM, $114.95:

Junior Dial, $28; Tom Thumb, $30:

Remington Travel-Riter, $85:

Underwood Leader, $49.95:

Royal KMG, $19.99:

Smith-Corona Sterling, $48:

Smith-Corona Vantage, $19:

Royal Arrow, $90:

This Arrow had a user's manual I'd never seen before. Of course, I have photographed it and added it to the collection on my website; here's the PDF.

Webster XL-500, $195:

Underwood Champion, $175:

Friday, May 14, 2021

Typewriters at the Wende Museum

Yesterday my family and I visited the Wende Museum of the Cold War in Culver City, California. My son, who's about to graduate from college, had an internship here—virtually. He worked cataloguing items online, but this was his first chance to visit the place in person.

The museum focuses on artifacts of daily life and propaganda from behind the Iron Curtain, especially East Germany. As we know, that state produced an abundance of typewriters—the best in the Communist bloc.

The museum includes a large collection of Soviet books ...

... and eye-catching Communist technology.

The current exhibit shows a Mercedes typewriter as it supposedly would have been used from day to day (although I doubt that these expensive items were actually used in family homes).

Another section of the exhibit shows a 1950s Optima Super and a 1970s Robotron Cella as they might have appeared at a flea market after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Robotron was the name for a socialist conglomerate that eventually absorbed the traditional East German typewriter factories. It made computers, electronics, and business machines.

Typewriters in the Communist bloc were not just expressions of the power of socialized production; they were also threats to state power, because they could be used to produce samizdat, unauthorized publications. (See the film "The Lives of Others" for a dramatization of this situation.) Despite Communist states' efforts to document and supervise every typewriter within their borders, some machines were mobilized by dissidents. The museum includes these examples of Polish samizdat from the period of the Solidarity movement.

This unusual museum is well worth a visit if you're in the LA area.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Women & typewriters will rule in 1998

As I wandered through Half Price Books today, I ran across a typewriter reference in an unexpected context.

In the year 1998, women will rule the world, according to The Girls from Planet 5 by Richard Wilson (1955). But typewriters will still rule the newsroom! 

Here's an older cover for this book, which seems to be a silly, possibly misogynistic take on the "battle of the sexes." In 1998, the State of Texas is the lone holdout against the new gynarchy.

PS: Thanks to Robert Messenger for uncovering this 1987 obit that tells us a little more about the author (including his mother's remarkable name):

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Typewriters of the Times: Ozick, Abernethy, hacking

As usual, this Sunday's New York Times is sprinkled with typewriters. 

An obituary for NBC and PBS journalist Bob Abernethy shows him with his Underwood.

A review of 93-year-old writer Cynthia Ozick's latest novel includes this bit:

But the main thing that made me think of typewriters—not as tools of old and bygone writers, but as necessary equipment for the 21st century—was this front-page story.

It's just the latest reminder of how digital equipment is vulnerable to prying, hostile incursions—in a way that typewriters are not.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Royal Quiet repaint (before)


I snapped up this 1938 Royal Quiet at an antique mall in 2014 (here's my original post about it). I could see right away that the paint was flaking and ought to be redone, at least on the top and in the back.

But it's such a pretty machine, and not common. I love its details.

Well, this weekend a professional typewriter restorer and seller offered to repaint the whole thing for me, preserving the chrome and the Dick Hoyt decal. I am jumping at the opportunity.

If it comes out well, you will see an "after" post on this blog.