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Monday, 16 February 2015

Typewriters in the News

The Typewriter Revolution appears to be gathering pace, evidenced by a flurry of news stories relating to typewriter use.  Here are a few:
On - "Watch: The typewriter is the machine of poetry at Staten Island Museum's 'Love Fest'." Travelling poet Billimarie Robinson creates poems on the spot on Valentine's Day. Typewriters, poetry and Valentine's Day made for the perfect mix at Betty's Typewriter Love Fest in the Staten Island Museum. "Betty" is minimalist artist Betty Bressi, who died last year at the age of 96. The museum has mounted a retrospective that is up until April 8.
In The Independent - Tim Key: "I have bought a typewriter and it is a thing of beauty and joy." I bought a typewriter last week so this week's column will be about that. And, in other news, I'm also writing it on my typewriter – though I'm sure when it comes down to it my editor will insist that I 'type it up' as a Word document; we'll exchange two or three emails about this before I will fall on my sword and do as he says and send it to him as an attachment. That's for later though; right now, I'm smashing it out on my typewriter and it is very loud and the results are a bloody mess because I'm not used to it and I'm not on top of things like capital letters, and I haven't been letting the Tipp-Ex dry enough before smacking my next letter into it. It looks horrible, but it feels great. I have always loved typewriters, so this is a dream come true. I finally own one, and am literally banging out my column on it. I got this beast from a Quaint Little Shop in east London. There were a few dotted around the emporium, and I welled up looking at them.
On Bustle. "5 Typewriters (And Typewriter-ish Apps) That Are Fit For 21st Century Writers To Compose Their Masterpieces On" by Lindsay Harrison. "Ray Bradbury once said, 'the great fun in my life has been getting up every morning and rushing to the typewriter because some new idea has hit me'. And he wasn’t exaggerating. Bradbury wrote the first draft of Fahrenheit 451 on a rented typewriter in the basement of the UCLA library. He paid 10 cents for every 30 minutes of typing time, which took him nine days, or $9.80 in dimes. Less than 10 bucks to go down in literary history? Sign me up, please."
On the ABC. "A typewriter and a canary: a celebration of writing and music" by Bill Brown. The sound of Neilma Sidney's typewriter made her canaries sing. Writing and music will be celebrated at Four Winds: Four Writers, at which Ms Sidney will be joined by Nicholas Jose, Hannie Rayson and Rodney Hall. Ms Sidney is better known as Neilma Gantner, a founder of Four Winds, a festival held every two years on an outdoor stage in a spectacular bush amphitheatre near a beach south of Bermagui on the New South Wales south coast - a venue described as nature's concert hall.
In the News Tribune, Tacoma, Washington. "Typewriter exhibit in Bend features art, story writing" by David Jasper. Long before the advent of tablets, laptops and, heck, fax machines, the sound of clacking typewriters, with their telltale DINGs and whooshing carriage returns, filled offices across the land. Not so much anymore. However, the nearly obsolete machines are getting some love - and a chance to make some old-school racket - this month at Atelier 6000 Printmaking Studio and Gallery in the Old Mill District of Bend. Manual typewriters including Underwoods, Smith-Coronas and Remingtons were on display when 'The Typewriter Returns!' - see what they did there? - opened during First Friday Gallery Walk.
In Marianas Variety: "Damn the typewriters" by Zaldy Dandan. The great actor Tom Hanks likes typewriters so much that he has lent his name to an app, Hanx Writer, which is for those 'who are nostalgic for the clickety-clack of keystrokes and ‘ding!’ of the carriage return…' My first reaction was, WDP?! (I’m Filipino.) It was like hearing someone gush about the long-forgotten thrill of surgery before the invention of anaesthesia. I’ve been making a living as a writer for close to a quarter of a century now, and in college, it seemed like I had to write an essay or a term paper every day, but the only thing I disliked about the writing process was the typewriter."
See here on - "Typewriters are making a comeback with millennials". By Lindley Estest. There’s a new demand for old typewriters. Ronnie Stevenson, the area’s only typewriter repairman, works on a machine at his office in Goldvein on Friday. Without typing and proper repair being taught, people forget to oil the more than 2000 moving parts. He also has to replace ribbons or make his own out of calculator ribbons. Ronnie Stevenson owns 62 typewriters. That’s about 3,100 keys, 124 ribbon spools and roughly 1612 typebars. Stevenson is the last typewriter repairman left in the Fredericksburg region. Most of the machines he has are used for scrap parts. But there are two typewriters he won’t dismantle or sell for any price: a Royal carried by a doctor on the battlefields of World War II and a 1951 Hermes Baby that’s as rare as it is compact. There’s something about the manual typewriter that hearkens back to a simpler time, he said. And young people agree with him."
On WMTV. "Junk or Gem: Vintage Typewriter" by Meredith Barack. Is this vintage typewriter a piece of junk, or a gem?[It] is something that many people owned decades ago, but with the invention of the computer has become obsolete. Once vital for work and school, typewriters were a staple for all households and offices, so we were curious to see if one man's vintage typewriter would be worth anything. "I brought in my grandfather's typewriter. When he was in the Army he learned how to type, in World War I. And he was a staff sergeant, so he had to type a lot of requisitions and stuff like that," explains Bill Whipple, who now owns the typewriter, "When he got back and out of service, he worked at a bank and he got this typewriter." Whipple says eventually, he took this typewriter with him to college and has had it ever since.
From the Guelph Mercury. "Typewriter revival music to columnist’s fingertips" by Deirdre Healey. When I was younger and would go over to my grandparents' house for a visit, one of my favourite things to do was to sneak upstairs into my grandfather's office. I would wait until all the adults were distracted by conversation before quietly climbing the stairs and darting towards the room. Usually I was alone, but sometimes one of my siblings would catch sight of me and follow, giggling and whispering all the way. It wasn't that we weren't allowed up there. It was more that it was an office, not a playroom, so the adults thought there were more appropriate places for us to be. However, to us it was better than any playroom. There were stamps, graph paper, highlighters, sticky notes and fancy pens. But all that fun stuff wasn't nearly as enticing as my grandfather's typewriter. When you first stepped into the room, you could see it perched on top of its own small table by the window, just waiting to be played with.
I have no idea why this was so, but someone took a beautiful old typewriter apart and photographed the parts. Can anyone guess what it is? Clues: It's not American, British or German, and it dates from 1911.


Bill M said...

Good to know typewriters are making the news during ITAM. In a way I kind of wish they weren't though--it drives up the prices too high.

Richard P said...

Lots of good stories here. Billimarie is delightful.

That dismantled typewriter is an Olivetti. I certainly hope it's an M20 or something and not an M1, which is super-rare!

Robert Messenger said...

Thanks Bill and Richard.
Well picked Richard, but sad to say it is a 1911 M1! Can't explain why this was done to it.Images don't justify taking an M1 apart.

Richard P said...

Wow. The M1 is worth $1000+.

In Milwaukee I met an Italian collector who has disassembled several M1's and painstakingly restored every piece, then reassembled them. Maybe (I hope) that's what we see in these photos.