Tuesday, April 13, 2021

How Come One More?

Singer Electric
How Come One More?

I think the replacement cloth-covered retro-style power cord adds to the aesthetic, rather than detract, as would a standard black cord. Embrace the wires!

Singer Electric

I like the yellowish color to the front bezel. Though I've always thought "bezel" was a funny word.

Singer Electric

If this thing's a Singer, and canary-yellow, should it be named after a bird ... Tweety Bird?

Singer Electric

A machine to fit into the decor? Perhaps!

Singer Electric

As an adult, I don't necessarily need to justify my collection, except to myself and my spouse. She's okay with a controlled, contained, modest collection, as long as it doesn't overwhelm the house. Myself, I'm more interested in machines I enjoy using, not being as interested in a collection merely to look at. Some I do enjoy using, some I don't, and many are just so-so. I think it's like a bell-curve distribution in statistics. I've had a lot of machines that fall into that wide middle range of not being overtly terrible, but not exciting either. Do typewriters have to be exciting in order to be used? That's an interesting question.

For me, they shouldn't present some obvious distraction during their use, like operational issues (skipping, poor imprint, et cetera); nor should they be hard to use, with obvious ergonomic issues (crowded keyboard, hard touch, et cetera). Machines that fall into this category are on the low end of the bell curve distribution. I'll pass, thank you.

On the other end of the curve are machines with no obvious flaws, but also just "disappear" into the background when you begin to use them. They offer comfort, efficiency and, before you know it, a page or two has been written and you've suddenly discovered that you'd "zoned out" into the work itself, not overtly aware of the typewriter itself. Like when you become proficient at a manual transmission car, and can drive across town in city traffic and not even remember shifting, it just becomes muscle memory. That's how a good typewriter should be.

Not every typebar electric machine falls into this latter category. In spite of their ease of use, some are just a bit too irritating, like a pet who constantly has to be petted, needing attention. Your workhorse typer shouldn't need attention. But having a featherlight touch, rapid response and dark imprint independant of finger pressure goes a long way toward making typebar electrics that ideal workhorse writing tool.

Personally, I prefer standard 9-inch-wide carriages, and manual carriage return. The auto-return machines sling the carriage with considerable force, which tends to distract me momentarily with thoughts that it's going to break itself any minute, or jump off the table mid-return. Illogical, perhaps, but that's how my mind works. Not so illogical is the fact that there are extra complications to the auto-return mechanism, a clutch and secondary draw band system that performs the carriage return: more parts to break.

I like the rhythmic pattern of a momentary pause to return the carriage by hand, as I ponder what I've just written, or where the piece is headed. It feels natural to me, like the cycles of nature, the ebb and flow of the hand-thrown carriage, the reaper's scythe harvesting words.

Over the years I've seen a number of typebar electrics in secondhand thrift and antique stores, but very few met all the criteria for me to seriously consider; either they had wide carriages, auto-carriage return or some obscure, outdated cartridge ribbon system -- or they were totally thrashed to pieces. But there's also the fact that I haven't always looked at typebar electrics with an interested eye. But now I'm coming around to really appreciating them for what they potentially can offer the writer, in terms of speedy operation with excellent, featherlight ergonomics combined with a dark imprint, all for a typically low price, as manual typers seem to attract the attention of the high-bidders these days.

I'm not a Hermes snob, nor am I anti-Hermes, but it's fun to think about a machine costing one tenth of a Hermes 3000 that sports a softer touch and faster operation. The only hitch is the power cord, the need to plug 'er in. Unless you have one of those SCM Poweriters, but that's a story for another day.

There's also one feature of typebar electrics that I'm absolutely thrilled about, which is the apostrophe being lowercase and adjacent to the L, in the home row (instead of a shifted 8 in the upper row, in the case of most manual machines). This makes the writing of contractions a breeze, crucial to written dialog with its idioms of speech.

Stay well and keep creating!



Anonymous Bill G said...

Joe, the way you go about choosing what typewriters to use/keep sounds very familiar to me. I think a lot of it has to do with the word "use". Rarer, more collectible machines are certainly wonderful to find, experience and look at. But for me it all comes down to which machines I actually enjoy using the most.

I actually really like the look of this Singer by the way.

7:54 PM  
Blogger SteveK said...

Such a weird choice and combination of colours, but that's what makes it all the more attractive. I like it too. The new cord goes well with it.

1:31 AM  
Blogger Bill M said...

Nice looking typewriter.
I often wonder about which machines to keep and which to use and which to display. Most of mine are able to be used. Many old ones though are not comfortable to use, those generally are displayed. The good ones are stored in my closet and rotated into and out of use through the year. I have only added one in the past year, an IBM Selectric-II to see if I can repair it.

8:30 AM  
Blogger Ted said...

suggestion: link the sentence "Unless you have one of those SCM Poweriters, but that's a story for another day." to the Poweriter post & video you've already done - as that "another day" is already in the past :D

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Spider Webz said...

There's always room for something more if it's the right one for that one moment. Everything changes as life changes. This Tweety Bird would not be a choice I made but I do like the looks of it a lot. The bright yellow is something different. It brings a smile. :-)

7:06 AM  
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