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Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The Exodus Continues - 82 Typewriters Will Stay

I'm pleased to say the process of significantly downsizing my typewriter collection goes on unabated.  So far it's been quite painless. Two friends arrived today and left with 12 typewriters, making 57 that have left here in the past 10 days. By Friday evening I'm hoping to have reached the 100 mark.
I'm glad this pair took the chance today to see the museum close to how it was earlier in the year, with more than 200 typewriters on display. The way things are going, it won't look like this for much longer. Shelves are already starting to empty.
One of the friends who visited commented, "Downsizing a typewriter collection is like trying to keep an inflated balloon under water. It keeps bouncing back, still inflated." He also said, "You can't seriously expect to get your collection down to 82 typewriters. There are far too many great machines here."
Well, I am serious, and below is the list of the 82 typewriters I have earmarked to hold on to. It will be much easier for me to handle a collection of 82 than 367 (now down to 310).

Alpina (grey-cream)
Astoria (Dunera Boys)
Bar-Let portable (Sherwood Forest green)
Barr portable (black, gift from Richard Polt)
4 Bennetts (including 2 Juniors)
4 Bijou/Erika portables
12 Blickenderfers (models 5 to 9, Featherweight, Home, Rem-Blick)
Continental portable (faux woodgrain)
7 Corona portables (including 4 Specials, Miles Franklin, gold-plated model 3, red model 4)
Everest Model 90 portable (burgundy)
Fox folding portable (gift from Richard Polt)
Gossen Tippa (red)
2 Groma portables (black model N and burgundy Kolibri)
Hall (Salem)
2 Hammonds (Ideal No 2, square keyboard No 2)
2 Hermes (Featherweight and black 2000)
Imperial Model B portable
Imperial Good Companion
Invicta portable (green)
Masspro (green)
New Yost
2 Noiseless portables
Oliver 5
2 Olivettis ( red ICO MP1, green Valentine)
5 Remington portables (models 1, 4, 5; Remette; Remington-Rand Model 1)
Remington 2 Standard
4 Royal portables (Signet, red-black Model O, sunburst Model P, grey-black QDL) 
Royal Standard 1 
2 Smith-Corona Series 5 portable (pink, 5TE electric)
Smith Premier portable (green)
4 Standard Foldings
Sun No 2
Torpedo 18
Tradition (Olympia)
6 Underwoods black, red Universal/Champion; Model 3, black, faux woodgrain model 4, Noiseless 77)
Voss Learnette
Winsor (gift from Richard Polt)

Monday, 1 September 2014

Halberg Portable Typewriter

David Lawrence, the only typewriter repairman in Auckland, New Zealand (he's at Environ Printers on Mount Eden, if you ever happen to visit God's Own Country), this morning alerted me to this Halberg portable typewriter (serial number 1705X) for sale on eBay in Germany ("buy it now" $US399; #311036541350).
This Halberg looks to be the same model as the Halberg Junior that Spider Webz blogged on at the end of last December. See her post here. Spider gave us a peep under the ribbon spools cover and also included this ad, which she linked to Georg Sommeregger's site:
A month ago David had a very pleasant experience on acquiring an Antares Parva, and made some interesting remarks about it. "It has the most amazing action, shorter keystrokes than the Hermes Baby, fine, crisp and snappy printing, and a cadence that just rings my bell. It has never been touched by a screwdriver, and yet every single key works perfectly, the ribbon control is perfect, the alignment is perfect, the bell rings and all I had to do was fit a new ribbon and roll in paper. It has shot to the top of my go-to, grab-and-use machines. There were no bids on this, until mine, and I got it for a song, but would [now] be happy paying more for such a brilliant typer. Olivetti Lettera 22-32 machines garner lots of interest and often high bidding, but I just cannot get comfortable with the action, it's just too soft and genteel and delicate and the keys are too crowded with the 32. But this machine ... I just want to type and type and type."
I mention this because, photographed from above, the Halberg immediately reminds one of the Antares Parva. For one thing, the keytops and top plate are almost identical.
If I could still afford to buy typewriters, I might have been interested in the Halberg, even at this elevated price (Spider, seemingly, got hers for a lot less). I've always been fascinated by how closely related the Halberg is to the Royalite and the later Nippo portable typewriters (at least mechanically, if not so much outwardly). The case for the Halberg looks like it belongs to a Corona Zephyr or Skyriter, but from the side the Halberg does resemble the size and basic shape of a Royalite. There are obvious comparisons, too, to the Hermes Baby/Rocket. At a quick glance, the Halberg looks like a hotch-potch of them all, although the Parva obviously came later.
Nippo Atlas
Under the cover of Spider's Halberg Junior
Under the cover of Georg's Halberg
 Under the cover of a Royalite
Underneath the Nippo Atlas, left, and a Royalite
 Under the cover of a Nippo
Under the cover of a Nippo P-200
The Halberg was made by Halberg Machinefabriek NV, Cuyk, Holland. Founded in Limburg in 1941, the company started making typewriters in 1952, but the factory was taken over by Royal in November, 1954. 

Sunday, 31 August 2014

The Giger Underwood

Inspired (and distracted) by overnight comments and ideas from Richard Polt, Erik Jaros and Ted Munk, the Naked Underwood has indeed turned into the Giger Underwood. Thanks for pointing me in this direction, you three visionaries. I was wondering what I would do with it next. I love it, now for a few keytops.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

The Naked Underwood

The last of the booty typewriters I've tackled is this Underwood, which, apart from having been badly neglected, had a snapped paper bail, a broken drawband and several missing keytops, including a shift key. The typebasket was totally jammed up. I took the machine apart completely and stripped every trace of dirty grey paint off it before reassembling it. I'm experimenting with a number of different products to get a nice, smooth and even shine all over. One thing I found worked well in cleaning up the segment and typebars was oven cleaner. I've jury rigged a paper bail from an earlier model, a spare parts machine, and used the drawband off that to get this one working again. Still plenty to do yet, including finding some keytops, but I like the way it's looking. Better naked, I say, than in shabby clothes:

The $340 million Typewriter

There appears to be no middle ground when it comes to opinions about the IBM Selectric-lookalike Remington SR-101 typewriter. Typewriter enthusiasts familiar with the machine are either vehemently in favour of whatever virtues it had or regard the SR-101 with the utmost loathing. Comments from an overwhelming majority of disgruntled users range from a mild "unreliable" to "a nightmare" and "horrible quality" to "the SR-101 fell apart from just being looked at. A most terrible piece of equipment!"
One theory has it that the failings of the SR-101 were the result of an IBM "payback". It was claimed Remington had filed a lawsuit against IBM at the time of the launch of the Selectric, in 1961. IBM allegedly settled by agreeing to supply specifications. IBM was said to have "taken their revenge" by delivering altered plans on required materials. "The materials used in the manufacture of the SR- 101 were indeed largely the cause of the machine's many ailments," wrote one critic.
Sperry-Remington released the SR-101 in June 1975:
It was one of the last desperate throws of the dice by the one-proud Remington typewriter company. Within six years of the SR-101's launch, Remington was in deep trouble. In 1978, Remington acquired the proprietary technology for producing the SR-101 from Sperry. The next year Remington licensed this technology to its Dutch manufacturing subsidiary, Remington Rand Business Systems BV. The licensing agreement required Remington BV to pay Remington a royalty of about $50 a typewriter for, among other things, the use of the technology. The licensing agreement also contained a confidentiality clause that required Remington BV to treat all information "with reasonable confidence" and to prevent disclosures to third parties.
During 1980-81, Remington Rand New Jersey was selling these "electromechanical typewriters" under the Remington Rand logo. Remington Rand Delaware, as the parent company, collected royalties on the sale and production of the typewriters. The Remington companies also included two wholly-owned subsidiaries: Remington Rand Business Systems BV in DenBosch, Holland, and Remington Systems Italiana SPA in Naples, Italy. All typewriters sold by Remington New Jersey were manufactured at these two sites: the Naples plant produced virtually all typewriters sold in Remington's North American market, while the DenBosch plant produced typewriters for sale in Remington's other markets.
Two earthquakes that struck first Irpinia east of Naples, on November 23, 1980 (6.89 on the Richter scale), then Ferentino, north of Naples, on January 10, 1981 (4.4), both seriously damaged the Remington plant in Naples. In November typewriter production ceased for five working days. It resumed on December 2, 1980. The second earthquake again stopped operations. Production resumed on February 17, 1981. But on March 25, 1981, the Naples subsidiary was closed as a result of an Italian bankruptcy proceeding that was not related to the earthquakes. As a consequence, Remington lost all control over, and received no more typewriters from, its Italian plant.
Almost concurrently, Remington's Holland plant went into bankruptcy and stopped shipping typewriters. Remington's United States companies also filed for bankruptcy. After the bankruptcy of its European subsidiaries, Remington was not able to locate alternative typewriter production facilities. As a result, the company went into a passive marketing mode in an effort to stretch its US inventory of typewriters until it could switch to an alternative product. In November 1980 it held 32,500 typewriters and satisfied its ordinary sales obligations, selling 5400 typewriters. Inventory increased to 34,000 typewriters in December, 35,052 in January and dipped only slightly to 28,334 in February 1981. But between March-June 1981, Remington's inventory decreased from 27,364 to 11,814 typewriters. Remington was able to acquire 14,500 typewriters from an outside source (Brother in Japan) between September-November 1981.
The company reorganised in December 1981 and changed its focus to the electronic SR-101 typewriter.
In 1984, the Remington Rand Corporation (which changed its name that year to the Kilbarr Corporation; it was also later known as the Pennbarr Corporation) took successful court action in New Jersey against Dutch company Business Systems Incorporated International (BSI), and was awarded damages of $221.4 million for misappropriation of trade secrets in relation to the SR-101.
The damages comprised $4.95 million for injury to the value of Remington's trademark, $38 million in lost royalty payments and Remington's estimate of almost $178 million lost profits from sales of machines, parts and supplies for the time that it would take Remington to develop an alternate source of supply of electronic typewriters. Remington asserted it would have made $209.67 per machine on sales of 100,000 machines per year for eight years.
However, in 1994-95, a US Court of Appeals found against Remington, and questioned the “speculative nature of Remington's unchallenged proffers that were embodied in the first judgment. The findings were based on Remington's unchallenged proofs that:
“(1) it would have needed eight years to find an alternate source of supply [of electronic typewriters].
“(2) Remington would have made profits of $209.67 per machine on sales, parts and supplies; and
“(3) Remington's market share and sales would have remained constant from 1982 through 1989, at a level of 100,000 units per year. Given that Remington was unprofitable and in bankruptcy at the time of the sale, BSI might have questioned the level of Remington's assumed profits. Furthermore, Remington's assumption that it would have sold 100,000 typewriters per year from 1982 to 1989 invites rebuttal based on the huge growth in the use of word processing computers in place of typewriters during that period.”
The litigation focused on the transfer and use of proprietary technology for the production of the SR-101.
After the initial finding, BSI went into insolvency, preventing Remington from collecting the judgment. Remington then won a subsequent judgment, awarding it damages of more than $339.4 million, against Amsterdam-Rotterdam Bank and another Dutch bank, Pierson, Heldring & Pierson. Remington asserted that the banks were responsible for BSI's misappropriation of SR-101 trade secrets and were liable for the judgment against BSI by virtue of their complicity in the misappropriation and their control over BSI's defence of the New Jersey litigation.
The jury rejected the claim of the banks that they were protected by releases executed by Remington, finding that the releases were fraudulently induced. The district court held the banks liable for the damages previously found in Remington's suit against BSI, barring the banks from contesting the amount of Remington's damages. Interest of $118 million was added to the original judgment, taking the total to $339.4 million.
The banks appealed against this judgment in 1994-95, saying the district court erred in failing to give effect to the releases executed in their favour by Remington, and in precluding the banks from contesting the amount of Remington's damages. The court of appeals agreed with the banks.
The contracts between Remington and Remington BV provided that Remington BV would manufacture the SR-101 and supply Remington with the typewriters. To provide working capital for this venture, Remington BV obtained loans of $10 million from the banks, secured by liens on Remington BV's assets.
Both Remington and Remington BV soon began experiencing financial difficulty. By the end of March 1981, Remington sought bankruptcy protection, while Remington BV had defaulted on its loans and entered "suspension of payments" proceedings in Holland under Dutch insolvency laws. Remington BV was declared bankrupt on May 26, 1981. Its assets, including the technology licensed from Remington, were subsequently sold by the Dutch bankruptcy to BSI, which had been formed by a group of Middle Eastern investors to acquire Remington BV's business, with financing provided in part by the banks.
 Remington contended that the sale of Remington BV was the result of a conspiracy formed on May 11, 1981, between the banks, the trustees and the investors to misappropriate Remington's typewriter technology. Remington claimed the conspirators plotted to distract it by an insincere proposal to buy Remington's stock while they put Remington BV into bankruptcy and arranged to sell its assets to BSI.
With this objective, the trustees sent an ultimatum to Remington on May 12, 1981, demanding that the shares of Remington itself be sold to the investors by May 20, 1981, failing which Remington BV would be forced into bankruptcy on that date. Remington sought to negotiate this demand, but the investors, who never intended to purchase Remington, refused and secretly pursued independent negotiations with the trustees to acquire Remington BV. On May 19, 1981, Remington sent a telex to the trustees and the banks stating its willingness to negotiate a sale of Remington. This forestalled the bankruptcy of Remington BV.
Meanwhile, negotiations for the sale of Remington BV continued between the banks, the trustees and the investors. On May 25, 1981, the investors tendered an offer to the trustees. The next day, May 26, 1981, on the petition of the trustees, Remington BV was declared bankrupt. That same day, the trustees asked the Dutch bankruptcy judge overseeing the Remington BV proceedings for permission to conduct a private sale. Remington learned of these developments on May 27 through its Dutch counsel, Allard Voute, who read of the bankruptcy and impending sale in Dutch newspapers.
On June 1, 1981, the Dutch bankruptcy judge approved the sale. The Dutch judge's approval was based in part on the trustees' representations that a sale of Remington itself was impossible, because of the licensing agreement. As proof of this, the trustees had submitted the May 12 ultimatum without revealing the existence of Remington's May 19 reply. On June 4, 1981, the trustees sold Remington BV's assets to the newly created BSI. The sale had the effect of transferring and disclosing the SR-101 know-how to BSI. About $8 million, or 90 per cent, of the sale proceeds went to the banks as payment for loans extended to Remington BV. The banks subsequently entered into new loan agreements with BSI.
This left Remington without product source. BSI, on the other hand, began efforts to develop a distribution network in the United States, independent of Remington.
Remington negotiated with BSI to receive BSI's typewriters for sale in the US. In August 1981, after these negotiations failed, Remington filed suit against BSI in the US bankruptcy court for New Jersey. Remington accused BSI of trademark infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets. Remington sought a preliminary injunction preventing BSI from selling typewriters in the US.
Remington began articulating suspicions about the banks’s involvement in BSI's affairs. In December 1981, Remington asserted is efforts to secure a typewriter supply from Remington BV in April 1981 had been defeated by interference from the investors, with "either the cooperation of or the support of or the trickery and deceit of the Dutch banks". In April 1982, Remington claimed the banks, the investors, and the trustees had worked together to frustrate Remington's efforts to maintain an ongoing relationship with its Dutch subsidiary.
In September 1984, the New Jersey district court imposed liability on BSI for using the SR-101 technology without compensating Remington. The court held a separate trial to determine damages. Before the trial, however, BSI entered suspension of payments proceedings in Holland and was declared bankrupt. The trial on damages proceeded in April 1985.
Remington then took further action against the banks, in New Jersey and New York, charging them with participation in BSI's misappropriation and continued use of Remington's trade secrets and seeking to hold the banks liable for the judgment Remington had won against BSI. The special verdict contained findings that the banks had conspired with others to acquire and operate Remington BV's business by "fraud, trickery and deceit", and that the banks had fraudulently concealed material facts to induce Remington to sign releases. The jury found that the banks were liable for the damages awarded by the New Jersey court against BSI because they substantially participated in the control of BSI's earlier litigation.
In 1994-95, a US Court of Appeals found against Remington’s argument that the releases were fraudulently obtained. “There was no showing that Remington signed the releases while labouring under mistaken assumptions about the banks' involvement in BSI's acquisition of Remington BV. Remington was well aware there was a close relationship between the banks and BSI.”

Friday, 29 August 2014

Repairing a Blickensderfer Typewriter Case

This Blickensderfer typewriter case had suffered some severe water damage on the watch of a previous owner. Blick cases are such beautiful things and I hated seeing it in the terrible state it was in. Every time I look at it, I cringed.
Neglect had caused the thin wood veneer to "bubble", break and lift off the core panels. The top sheet of wood veneer had warped completely away from the front section, above the leather handle strap. As well, the panels had seriously buckled in parts. The back of the case and both front edges nearest the handle were the worst affected. 
Would I do any further damage if I attempted to at least partially restore the case? Well, maybe, but anything would be better than the way it was.
As it turned out, the yawning gaps around the edges and elsewhere could be closed, and the wood veneer reapplied to the straightened core panels, with the use of plastic wood and clips. I should have taken a "before" photo, but didn't think about photographing the process until I was more than halfway through it.
Once the plastic wood had dried and hardened, I was able to sand it back, apply a smooth surface of matching wood putty, and colour it with wax touch-up crayon and a darkening coat of tan boot polish. Then I rubbed in furniture polish to give the whole surface a consistent look, and sealed it all off with a satin stain spray paint. I also carefully took the deep rust off the clasps and handle grips with a wire brush on an electric drill.
So it's back looking pretty presentable, even if the top coat is still drying ... Indeed, compared to what it was like, it now looks absolutely fabulous - these "after" photos don't do it justice. One thing I have been able to do successfully over the years is restore typewriter cases, if not always the machines inside them!
I must have just about every size and shape of wooden Blick case by now - but boy, I wish I had one of these: