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Saturday, 15 February 2014

What Comes Around Goes Around: Typewriters Return to CFM

Yesterday my friend Elizabeth let me know that the owner of the house next to hers was renovating and the driveway was stacked up with shelves which the owner was offering for free.
Elizabeth wasn't thinking in terms of typewriter display shelving. She hoped I'd find something there that might replace the temporary water tanks pumphouse I had built for her about six years ago. Back then I had recycled the trunk of an old silver birch tree which was already dead, and now the pumphouse legs had rotted and were collapsing. This time I did manage to build a more permanent structure. 
But I could also see there were many shelves which would be excellent for displaying typewriters. I told the house owner so, and he couldn't have been less interested. He just wanted the shelves taken away.
Three short round trips in the Typomobile later, the shelves were stacked in my downstairs entrance, waiting for son Danny to help me lift them upstairs to the typewriter exhibit area. I'd estimate I will be able to put at least another 30 or so typewriters on display, taking the total number up to close to 300.
It was just as well I did this yesterday. Overnight the heavens opened and Canberra's heat wave-drought finally ended. I think it's the first time I have seen any decent rain in about two months.
Anyway, to the point of this story: As I sorted through the shelving, I noticed that each piece was labelled as having been manufactured by CFM.
CFM, which at one time was headquartered in Sunshine in Victoria, stands for Currie Furniture Manufacturing.
It is the very same company which in the 1970s imported tens of thousands of fully assembled Nakajima portable typewriters (as well as sewing machines) and sold them in Australia under a variety of model names.
The most common names to be found today are Craftamatic and Pinnock.
Pinnock was a trade name CFM Industries bought in the late 1960s. It had been a South Australian sewing machine manufacturer in the mid-1930s, and even though the company was no longer around, CFM wisely recognised there was enduring goodwill attached to the brand name from which CFM could benefit.
As with CFM portable typewriters, today people collect and use Pinnock sewing machines in the mistaken belief they are Australian made. (What are worth collecting are the original Australian-made Pinnock machines, which are still around). But like the typewriters, the later Pinnock sewing machines are no more than rebranded Japanese machines. CFM went to extraordinary lengths to disguise that fact. 
It is for me a delicious thought that the company which imported so many typewriters into Australia had also inadvertently made shelving which would one day display typewriters. But it only seems fair.




6 comments:

TonysVision said...

Good score, Robert. They look perfect for typewriter display. Regarding the lack of interest by the former owner, I try to be circumspect about my typewriter problem. They might have called the folks with the butterfly nets.

Bill M said...

Very generous offer of some great shelves. Good you were able to get them before the deluge.

Interesting history of CFM. I thought of Adwoa at the mention of sewing machines.

I get the not interested view of typewriters quite often when I talk about them. Most people think computers can do everything. (unfortunately so do the schools)

Richard P said...

Neat coincidence and nifty shelves!

Mark C said...

My father was the owner and Managing Director of the entire group of companies (13 in all), he sold out in the '80s due to poor health.

Bernadette said...

Hi Robert,
Found your blog while researching sewing machines - you are right, Pinnock never manufactured any sewing machines, they were all imported and re-badged. The closest they came to the truth with 'Australian Made' was the short time that they used machines made by the Lithgow Small Arms Factory in NSW. The majority of the coloured electric machines are Toyotas. The Pinnock factory had workers grind off the Japanese markings on the machines at one stage.
I can understand your 'typewriter obsession' - they tempt me too when I'm looking at antique shops :D

Rebecca said...

Hi! I have a Pinnock typewriter and my daughter loves it. Do you happen to know where I can get a replacement ribbon from?