Sunday, February 27, 2011

Three's a Crowd

I've a collection of manual typewriters that numbers just three. Some folks in the Typosphere own dozens. I'd probably have dozens myself if I had the room, and my wife permitted, and if I didn't already have too much photographic gear taking up space at home.

The thing about my camera gear is that I try to use as much of it as I can, from my modern Lumix G1 micro-four-thirds digital to my WWII-era Anniversay Speed Graphic. Digital, roll-film, large-format sheet film or alternative media like paper negatives and pinhole cameras, I like them all.

The same can be said about typewriters, I like all kinds but especially portable manual machines. This first machine in the top photo is an Underwood Universal from the mid-1930s. It has that classic crinkled enamel finish, has a very smooth action and exudes that warm smell of machine oil, and has the original case. Its round keys and classic lines make it a great object to exhibit on one's desk, but it's also entirely useful for writing with, not just as decoration. I purchased it here in Albuquerque, from Brown & Smith.

The next machine is my true travel typer, a Royal Mercury. Not seen in the picture is the plastic, snap-on lid that seals up the machine nicely. I've taken this little guy on vacation the last few years, and have sat in a beach chair at Oceanside, California and typed blog entries. Its action is not as smooth as the Underwood, but it's a lot smaller and lighter. Purchased from Business Systems & Machines, also here in Albuquerque.

This last machine, an Olivetti Underwood 21, is my most recent find, acquired at a thrift shop that itself disappeared a few months after the purchase. The original owner of this machine came to Albuquerque in the early 1970s, from "back east," on a motorcycle, and traded the bike in for the Olivetti, with which he hoped to be a writer. He owned it up until just a few years ago. At least, that was the story the thrift shop owner told me. When I got the machine home, after paying my $20, I found the original owner's manual, inside of which was the receipt for the typewriter, indicating a trade-in between car lot and office supply store. It types very smooth and precisely, and has not needed any service. In fact, I don't believe it's been serviced since new.

Well, there you have it, Joe's manual typewriter round-up. Three may not be a large collection, but they take up enough space, and are all that I can justify using on a regular basis.

I should also mention that there's a third typewriter store in Albuquerque, Duke City Typewriter, that I've never visited. Perhaps a field trip is in the near future, after which I may have to find room for a fourth member of my manual typewriter family!


Blogger rino breebaart said...

Classic Underwood. Put them all to good use, I say.

And nice prop/framing too.

1:34 AM  
Blogger Richard P said...

What gorgeous lighting and background -- your shots bring out the best in your typewriters.

There is a master typewriter restorer in Albuquerque, John Lewis:

6:05 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth H. said...

Luscious photographs! Just beautiful. Thanks for sharing with us!

11:14 AM  
Blogger deek said...

I envy your assisted self-restraint.

I could live happily with just three, one stationed permanently at home, one light traveller and one luggable portable.

Of my eight, I'd say five get regular usage and the other three, despite being of high quality and comfort, are stored most of the time.

That Underwood is very attractive!

2:13 PM  
Blogger Strikethru said...

Gorgeous photos (what's new). I am partial to your Mercury although the Underwood is obviously the classiest of the three.

11:11 PM  

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