Sunday, January 29, 2023

ᛏᚼᛁ ᛏᛁᛒᛁᚢᚱᛁᛏᛁᚱ ᛘᛅᚾᛁᚠᛁᛋᛏᚬ

Now I've seen it all. 

Lukasz K. in Sweden contributes this version of the Typewriter Manifesto in runes.* Not just that, but runes typed on a typewriter!

*There are several different runic alphabets. This one, I believe, is the alphabet used on the Rök runestone, the origin of Swedish literature. For my post title, I used a different alphabet, the Younger Futhark.

Where do you get a typewriter that types runes??

You build one. More precisely, you print a runic typewheel for your Blickensderfer. Lukasz was inspired by Leonard Chau's 3D-printed typewheels to create his own, with tips from Leonard. I just love these international, collaborative innovations in typewriter technology!

You can read Lukasz's account of creating his own Blick typewheels here, and read about his runic typewheel here. He also has other fascinating posts about typewriters.

Now ... who will be the first to identify the language of the manifesto Lukasz typed?  ;)

Thursday, January 26, 2023

The Siemag portable typewriter

The Express and the Siemag:

Skeleton shift on the Siemag:

You can forget about easy access to the escapement (the Express is the same):

The problem I ran into with the ribbon mechanism is that it depends on a hook that hooks around a tiny screw. On my Siemag, this hook kept sliding right off. 

Interestingly, the corresponding hook on the Express curves around more, so that it can't possibly get detached from the screw—a much better design. Could it be that this tiny difference made Siemag portables less reliable and contributed to their swift demise??

I was able to connect these two pieces by wrapping the hook in some shrink tubing, puncturing the tubing, and running a wire through the puncture and the screw hole. Ridiculous, but functional. The ribbon color change doesn't work, but at least you can type.

Click here for more examples of Siemag portables on The Typewriter Database.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

New typewheels for the Blickensderfer typewriter

You are looking at a revolution in retro writing technology.

Those who know antique typewriters will recognize this as a typewheel for a Blickensderfer ("Blick"), invented by George C. Blickensderfer and made in Stamford, Connecticut. This design was made in several models from 1894 to about 1919. (See the details on The Typewriter Database). It features interchangeable typewheels, a three-bank keyboard (usually arranged in the "Scientific" layout with the most common letters on the bottom row), and inking by roller.

The design was briefly revived by Remington as the Rem-Blick (aka Baby Rem), mostly manufactured in 1928. But for nearly a century, Blicks have been "obsolete" collectors' items and curiosities.

Here are some Blicks I've had in my collection over the years.

no. 5 (Polish DWIAMENSOR "Scientific" keyboard)
no. 6 (aluminum, QWERTY)
no. 7 (English DHIATENSOR "Scientific" keyboard)
no. 7 (aluminum, DHIATENSOR)
no. 8 (aluminum, DHIATENSOR)
Rem-Blick (QWERTY)

Blicks are very clever, but also relatively slow and tiring compared to a typebar typewriter. If only it were easy to find a Blick Electric, a 1902 model (available in a few variants) that anticipated the IBM Selectric! But these machines are extremely rare.

But let's get back to that revolution in retro writing technology:

This is a brand new, made in 2023, interchangeable type element for Blicks. Not only that, but it is equipped with a typeface that was never available for Blicks before: Steile Zierschrift, a decorative type, as pictured here in the 1928 Ransmayer-Rodrian (RaRo) catalogue.

And here's a new typewheel that features an extremely rare italic Remington typeface designed by the famous Frederic Goudy. (This one has been used, so there's ink on it.)

They even come in their own neat containers with screw-on tops.

But do they really work? 

Yes, they do work!

The new typewheels use the font design skills of Brent Carter and the 3D printing wizardry of Leonard Chau. This is the most precise 3D printing I've personally seen — there's no "pixelation" on these small, fine shapes. They're available in several more typefaces, and either in the Blick DHIATENSOR layout or in QWERTY. (QWERTY seems most likely to be found on the aluminum model 6.)

Here are some wheels getting cured after 3D printing. Yes, you see script and Vogue!

Maybe your Blick needs a little attention before it's ready to type. Do you need ink rollers? Buy a box of gun cleaning felts (7mm) and ink them with Bates Numbering Machine ink. Are your feed rollers flat? Recover them with automotive tubing or heat shrink tubing.

Now are you ready to order your own new typewheels? Leonard Chau can be reached via email (, Instagram (@blick_elements), or Facebook (Leonard Chau).

Backward and onward!

(Video by Leonard.)


Monday, January 23, 2023

Typewriters bridging generations

With permission, I'm sharing an enjoyable story sent to me by Tom Rehkopf:

In addition to reducing inventory, one of the fun things about selling a few typewriters at Christmas time is meeting new friends. Kennedy (age 14) was having ribbon issues on her Dreyfuss QDL*, so her mom drove her to the local Starbucks, where, amongst all the laptop computer crowd, we held a brief ribbon seminar (and drew a few bemused onlookers I might add). 

 *Royal Quiet De Luxe designed by Henry Dreyfuss

All fixed, apparently just in the nick of time, she immediately started typing away with a big smile on her face. Great fun. Kennedy watched the ribbon changing ceremonies intently, asking questions as I moved along. When I finished, I moved the typewriter over to her to take it for a test ride, and she immediately banged out the text you see, typing at a nice crisp controlled pace, much to my amazement.

I thought she was going to get a round of applause from the laptop crowd, but they just watched fascinated. Truly an unexpected, fun moment. BTW, I gave her a round of applause even if nobody else did. It got me that smile you see.

Nice going, Kennedy and Tom! 

By the way, Tom is a highly accomplished mathematician, engineer, and IT expert. You can read more about him and his love of typewriters in this fine story by Jeffrey Albertson.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

A new case for a Noiseless Portable

I have a lovely example of a Noiseless Portable, which came to me from the estate of Australian collector Emeric Somlo nine years ago. This little three-bank machine was made in 1924 by the Noiseless Typewriter Company, shortly before it was absorbed by Remington. Remington adapted some of the mechanisms of this typewriter to create its own four-bank noiseless portable, which was successful in various models throughout the 1930s and into the 1950s.

The Noiseless Portable is a small device ...

... which gets even smaller when you fold its spacebar and carriage return lever, and flip the paper support down to make it a carriage lock.

It's all set to fit into a neat little case—but I've never had one.

So I got the idea to try to find a new case which would fit the Noiseless's dimensions.

On eBay and Amazon you can find hundreds of Chinese-made carrying cases for various kinds of tools and devices. They have black side panels and aluminum edge strips. They aren't generally of top quality, but they look good enough and they can protect your typewriter. They also often come with foam inside, which can be cut or picked apart to make a cozy space for your machine.

It took me a lot of searching before I found a case that was just big enough: 12 x 10 x 6 inches. This was a case that had been used to protect some unknown items.

When it arrived, I cut the foam into a shape that would hold the base of the typewriter snugly. I also lined the larger part of the case with felt, cut from a big old typewriter pad that had been sitting uselessly in my basement. This thick felt would interfere with the carriage, so I covered the parts of the case that had to fit around the carriage with some self-adhesive thin felt.

The finishing touch? A Noiseless logo, of course!

From a touched-up photo of the logo on this typewriter, Sticker Mule made 10 die-cut stickers for a bargain introductory price.

I stuck two of these stickers onto self-adhesive felt, which then provided good adhesion to the textured surfaces of the two largest sides of the case. Now it's perfect!

I couldn't resist also improving my laptop ...

... and my phone.

Would you like to do the same? Feel free to click on this image and download a nice, high-resolution version of the Noiseless logo for your own use.

So now I'm ready to go out into the world with my Noiseless in its neat little case and type up a storm, right?

No. My mainspring has a problem I need to solve first. The little protrusion inside the housing which catches the end of the spring has broken off, so the spring spins around without gathering enough tension.

However, I did manage to get a typing sample, and I'm looking forward to solving this problem before long so that I can put this soft-spoken gang of characters to work:

Friday, January 20, 2023


Another language (and alphabet) joins the worldwide insurgency! Dimitris Nikou has just published this Greek translation on his blog, Grapho Ex Machina (link goes to an English translation of his post).

A collection of international versions of the manifesto can be found here.