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Monday, 10 September 2012

Corona Standard Speedline Portable Typewriter

Richard Polt was right when he said there would be a rewarding upside to moving hundreds of typewriters. Inevitably, at least one absolute beauty will emerge from the bottom of the pile.
On the first of five visits to the larger of two storage units in Fyshwick, to clean it out of all typewriters and their cases, just such a thing happened.
Earlier in the year, I well recall wondering, for one reason or another, whether I had a “Speedline” Smith-Corona in my collection.
After moving the first 15 or 16 typewriters, there it was, a real black beauty, a 1938 Corona Standard.
Once I got it home, there was of course an irresistible urge to type with it. I grabbed the first ribbon that came to hand. 
Unfortunately, the day before, someone had given me six pale blue plastic boxes containing “Mastertype black film ribbon” – and I happened to put one of those in the old Corona. Not a good idea. The Corona’s razor sharp typeslugs bit into and spat out pieces of “film ribbon” like ravenous lions.
It’s clear from the typecast that bits of ribbon were flying in all directions. Still, I think it scans OK. Regardless of it not being the most suitable ribbon, the Corona typed magnificently.
The L.C.Smith & Corona “Speedline” series, designed by Al Avery, was introduced in 1938. Corona’s conversion of its Syracuse and Groton factories to armaments-making in late 1942 meant typewriters were put on hold. But after the war Corona resumed full production of the "Speedline" series, before it was superseded at the end of 1949 by the 5 Series.
In March 1942 the US Government stopped the sale and delivery of typewriters, and in October of that year production ended. It resumed at Syracuse in February 1944. In the meantime, Corona had many models assembled at its  Canadian “branch plant”.
Corona established the “branch plant” in Toronto in 1929, just three years after the merger of L.C.Smith and Corona.
The Toronto plant was initially an assembly point, with parts shipped across the border. The idea was to beat import restrictions in other parts of what was then known as the British Empire, including Australia and New Zealand. In Australia, Remington did the same thing at the same time, starting a "branch plant" in Sydney.
Many Corona portable typewriters continued to be labelled “Made in Canada” until well into the 1950s, before Corona eventually moved production to West Bromwich in England in the early 60s. The Toronto company was known as “L.C.Smith & Corona Typewriters of Canada Limited”.
My Corona Standard has the serial number 2C188473, which means it was made in 1938. This was the year A.O.Dawson took over as vice-president of Corona's Canadian operation - he became president in 1952.
The Typewriter Age Guide states the Corona Standard 2C line went to  2C198000 in 1938 and to 2C202000 in 1939. It adds that the Standard then became the Clipper. However, Dirk Shumann's Typewriter Database gives slighter higher figures: 2C200284 in 1938 and 2C223542 in 1939. The database numbers of this series, including the Standard (and Clipper?), Silent and Sterling, are given below,
Alan Seaver describes the “Speedline” design as “somewhat belatedly reflecting the futuristic, organic Art Nouveau style that had begun to move from architecture into industrial products in the 1930s.”
Alan Seaver Collection, 2A40715
Alan says his Speedline Sterling (above) is “one of my favourite typers, both to look at and to use”.
Here is Richard Polt's similar Speedline Sterling:
Richard Polt Collection, 2A51871

Corona Standard ("C") (Floating Shift)
To 2C 200284 1938
2C 223542 1939
2C 250439 1940 (Clipper?)
2C 251475 1941
3C 242600 1940
3C 269927 1941
3C 282618 1942
3C 300600 1943
3C 318300 1944
3C 348593 1945
4C 112627 1945
4C 142253 1946
4C 188264 1947
4C 241798 1948
Corona Silent ("S") (Floating Shift)
2S 71813 1939
2S 79519 1939
2S 83687 1940
3S 90045 1940
2S 83999 1941
3S 98577 1941
3S 102148 1942
3S 102159 1944
4S 101500 1945
4S 119969 1946
4S 151433 1947
4S 195646 1948
4S 209057 1949
Corona Sterling ("A") (Floating Shift)
2A 50694 1938
2A 52335 1939
2A 72812 1940
2A 73257 1941
3A 74288 1940
3A 97291 1941
3A 107499 1942
3A 107506 1945
4A 106881 1945
4A 161854 1946
4A 227084 1947
4A 292044 1948
4A 307060 1949


wordrebel said...

She's been on my Wish List for years now - and in maroon at that! You have (as you know) a fantastic machine there. A great find if ever there was one! Thanks for sharing!!

teeritz said...

My circa 1946 Sterling is one of my favourites, both to use and to stare at. That's a great machine you have there, Robert. And the glossy paint-job really sets it off.

Richard P said...

The lines of this typewriter are so simple and so beautiful, they are classic. I see that the carriage return lever on yours is straighter than on mine and Alan's, though.

I did not know about the Canadian plant.

Dwayne F. said...

This is a beautiful machine. I had seen the one on Alan's site and have admired it from afar. A maroon one showed up in a local antique mall with the case missing (probably moldy) and mechanical issues. There will be others.

Ryan Adney said...

I have one waiting to be restored to her former glory. They do have a very nice body. Truly sophisticated typewriters.

Tom Furrier said...

Thanks for highlighting one of my favorite machines. It's simple elegant design is a thing of beauty. For years I've preached about it's great touch and feel as much as it's beauty. Thanks!

heuristik said...

I just picked up one of these today, and the serial number is very close to yours: 2C188025. It's beautiful like my Remington 7 Noiseless. The seller didn't realize that it was quite easy to reconnect the "stirrup" to the keys -- spread them out and reconnect the little bar. And a couple of little springs. what a great site you have.

Dallion said...

I'm a cartoonist, and am looking for Typewriter pictures as reference for a book I'm working on. This looks like a sexy typewriter to draw, and I'm super grateful for all the different angled photos you've taken. Thanks a bunch!

Danai Lamb said...

I have quite a few old typewriters including an old Hammond that I cannot figure out. The serial number on my Corona standard, however, is: 2C169893, and is seems to partially resemble the paper bale-less design of the Corona Sterling. Do you have knowledge of a "hybrid?" Danai Lamb

Danai Lamb said...

P.S. My Corona Silent has a serial number 1S24998. I do not see it in the S series numbers, but should I assume it is pre-1938? I am new at tracking the histories of my (relatively) few (compared to previous stmt. of "quite a few") typewriters. Thanks in advance for any info.

Robert Messenger said...

The green Corona Standard I posted on yesterday has no paper bail and is definitely not a hybrid. Most of these models are like this, though some do have a paper bail. It may have been an optional extra at point of sale. Your standard was made in 1938 and the Silent in 1937.

Karen Kenney said...

I believe that I have one of these beautiful maroon Corona Standard Speedline Portable Typewriters - but I'm unable to locate the serial number. Can you please advise on where I might find it? Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

Karen Kenney said...

I believe that I have one of these beautiful maroon Corona Standard Speedline Portable Typewriters - but I'm unable to find the serial number. Can you please advise as where to look? Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

Spindoggie said...

I have managed to acquire "in the wild", a Made in Canada 2C Corona Standard, in black, just like the one pictured. It does not have a paper bail, and the platen and feet are rather hard, but it functions wonderfully. It's lines and it's minimal decoration make it lovely to look at.
At $50 Canadian, it was a steal. WooHoo!

Jamie Ziegler said...

I found a Corona Sterling floating shift serial number 3A 74405 with 10 043B on the bottom. It was in the attic. It has the case,key,instructions and a good ribbon. Every moving part works and it seems to be in mint condition. I can't find it listed anywhere. Help?

Paula Kent said...

I am now the proud owner of my mother's Corona Standard.
Where will I find the serial number?