Sunday, January 30, 2022

The insurgency strikes

 These images from an anonymous sender appeared in my inbox. 

Yes, the Typewriter Insurgency Manifesto is still making the rounds of our overdigitized world ... even shopping malls. Thank you, brave insurgent!

Saturday, January 29, 2022

AMC (Japy) with a special feature

AMC was an American company that sold imported typewriters under its name. You can find AMC-branded Alpinas as well as machines like this one—made in France by Japy. 
I've found several of them around Cincinnati over the years. Here's one that was brought in to Urban Legend Typewriters for service. I didn't spot what makes it special immediately. Can you?
It has a tabulator, which I've never seen on one of these little machines before. 

Tab stops are set and cleared with this lever that sticks up to the left side of the paper table. You push it back to set a stop, and pull it forward to clear. It is connected directly to the tab rack, and simply makes it swivel.
This gear in the back connects the carriage to the tabulator brake, which keeps the carriage from moving dangerously fast when you tabulate.
Here's a view with the shell off.
Removing the shell gave me a chance to clean the typewriter better and understand several mechanisms.
This typewriter came with a case I haven't seen before, with an extra zippered compartment for papers.
All told, this is a fine little typewriter, solidly built and well designed. It does have three Achilles' heels, though. The carriage can get jammed in the shifted position. The ribbon vibrator can get disengaged from the lever that moves it up and down; there is a pin in the vibrator that simply fits into a hole in the lever. Finally, the plastic keys degrade over time and can shrivel and get ugly; I had to replace six keys on this machine with keys from a parts AMC and a couple of Royals (which required a little grinding of the key stems).

As you may know, this is one of the typewriters based closely on the Swiss Patria from the 1930s, manufactured in several European countries into the 1970s. Did other typewriters in this family have the same tabulator mechanism?

Here's a roundup of these machines that I published several years ago in ETCetera.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Grants 737 Deluxe typewriter

It was over a decade ago that I last saw a Grants 737 in person—a thrift-store find. Now a customer of Urban Legend Typewriters has brought in one that needs cleaning. This typewriter was made in Japan by Nakajima for Grants stores in the 1970s. (For more information, see my post on the Grants 707 electric.)

This is a good typewriter! It's smooth, snappy, precise, and solid. It is actually a pleasure to type on—unlike the far more common Smith-Corona Corsair and its ilk, which it superficially resembles. The Corsair is smaller and lighter (not necessarily an advantage), rattly, imprecise, and easily bent out of shape. There's no contest.

If you enjoy turquoise plastic—and I do, since it somehow evokes my childhood—then I advise you to hold out for one of these. 

Sunday, January 16, 2022

What's an Andretti typewriter?

I am looking forward to watching “The French Dispatch” when it streams and I can pause to ogle all the typewriters. 

Here are 3 sizes of the “Andretti Ribbon-Mate,” based on Max Bill’s 1944 design for the Patria (also used for Swissa, Voss Privat, Japy, Byron, Oliver, and Amaya—see p. 11 of ETCetera no. 89). (This isn’t an image from the film, but a photo posted by a blogger who visited an exhibit of props from the movie.)

The “Andretti” in this poster (designed by Pascal Blanchet) is obviously based on the Hermès Baby. 

The following two posters for the film reference the Olympia Traveller 

How quickly can you find the typewriter here?

PS: Visit Robert Messenger's blog for a look at the real-life background for the film.