Saturday, October 5, 2013

Which Three?

You have visitors. One remarks on a typewriter you have on your desk. Perhaps they are genuinely interested, because it resonates with some memory of theirs, or maybe they are already aware of Your Problem and are curious what makes you tick. Based on their few words and with a speed and set of algorithms that would put to shame the fastest computer, you size them up and make your decision.  The decision is not trivial; you've painfully experienced the blank stares and stifled yawns of non-believers. But this time you sense some genuine light there, and decide to usher them further into your sanctum and reveal a few of your precious pretties. Say, three of them.

Which three?

Think it over. You have machines that are important for their font, or they represent a transition or period of design. Perhaps some that simply do their job very, very well. But let's say your visitor is younger than 50. That means that their experience with actually having used typewriters would have been very fleeting, if they'd had any at all. What would engage their interest?

OK, I'll go first.

1. My old Royal 10. The thing is majestic in its black glossiness and beveled glass, and the epitome of typewriter vintageness. Plus it works well, and folks have fun typing on it and hearing its clear bell sound.

2.  Olivetti Valentine. Folks are often surprised at the bright colors used on typewriters, and the Valentine has that covered, along with Ferrari styling. And the integrated case thing is intriguing.

3.  My just arrived Oliver No. 9. Those typebars flying through the air like a deranged cheese slicer just have to be impressive. Plus it has the whole funky steampunk thing going on.

So I've shown you mine - now it's your turn.


  1. I have shown some visitors the 1928 alligator red Royal Portable, to show how these things are still working after 80+ years, the 1945 Smith-Corona Sterling because of its spackle paint job, glass-topped black keys and its sleek design, and the 1958 Groma Kolibri to illustrate how slim these things could get.
    Sometimes, I've brought out the 1936 Smith-Corona Standard flat-top because the glossy black paint job shines like The Maltese Falcon.
    However, I am a little wary with regard to whom I show these machines to. Some of them know I collect wristwatches and fountain pens and I don't want to come across as too much of a Luddite.
    Between you and me, Tony, these things were better built than anything of the last twenty or thirty years.

  2. Ah yes, I always do the same thing. Imperial D, for it's different mechanism. One of the Sperry Remingtons, for color and easy writing. And either the S&N Erika 5, the Underwood 3-bank or the Olivetti Studio 42. This depends on where I'm taking them, how I'm traveling and in which mood I am.

    And when you meet me at the house, I will probably tell you about the Diamant 1, but you cannot touch it! ;-)

  3. From my (somewhat) meager collection, it would be the 1925 Corona 4, the 1936 Underwood Universal and the Olivetti Lettera 22.

  4. Your 3 are very fine choices.

    I have 100+ typewriters in my office, so whenever anyone comes in, I get a chance to observe their reactions. Sometimes, believe it or not, they don't care at all. You could show them a pristine New Model Crandall and they'd shrug their shoulders.

    When they do show curiosity, though, they typically want to know which is my oldest (in the office it's a Hammond #1), the first one I got (Remington Noiseless Portable #7), and the one I like to use the most (probably the Olivetti Lexikon). Those 3 would be material for a long conversation ... but hardly anyone is up for that. I can't wait for Robert Messenger's arrival so we can geek out together!

    1. A webcam video stream from this geeking out would be too much to ask? ;)

  5. I vote Valentine. I bet they've never a seen a typewriter that cool, it's the best choice to usher the curious to typospheria.

  6. I only have three with me, so it's them... Skyriter, sm3, and remigton 3. If i had it here, i'd throw in my prewar qdl--the hemingway typer.

  7. Tough call! I think I would show them one desktop, one semi-portable, and one portable design; say, Remington 12 (I love that machine!), Olympia SM-9 (life in pink!) and Olivetti Lettera 32... depending on what's on my desk at the moment.

  8. If I was your visitor, you would show me out the door with one less typewriter than you had before, as I would have stolen your gorgeous Oliver 9.

  9. I'm crazy about your Royal 10. I have a good one once, sold it thinking I'd find another like it, never did. Bought 3-4 more, but never the same.

  10. As Triumph Perfekt sits on my desk constantly lately it would draw the attention (and the striking shape of Oliver no.9 is not that far away either) - from my miniscule set: Remington Noiseless Portable (for its beauty and condition and as a pre-war example), Kolibri (for its beauty and size and as a post-war example) and Valentine (for its design and funkiness).