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Friday, 29 April 2011

Typewriter Posers: Fleeting Fun with Names

I imagine I'm no different to many of you, in that when I get a spare few minutes in my life, I like to scroll through the various eBays and other online auctions, just to see what's on offer in the way of typewriters and typewriter emphemera. It can, of course, be quite a dispiriting thing to do. It's frustrating to see an item I'd really like to own but can't afford, either to buy or to ship into Australia. Like this Orga Privat that came up for sale on British eBay some time ago:
Or this Creelman Brothers Blick:
More especially this Toshiba Japanese-language typewriter, possibly from the late 1950s, which sold on Australian eBay this week for $365. It seems to me that parts of a Remington were used in putting it together:
But what I do often get out of this exercise is the fleeting fun of spotting a typewriter listed under an unfamiliar name and trying to identify what it is: in other words, to work out what it is under a more usual guise. Given the range of typewriters offered by the like of Sears, Montgomery Ward, KMart and other chain stores over the years, and the Japanese practise of putting so many different model names on the same typewriters, this is not always as easy as it may seem. Often it will require reference to those excellent sites the Portable Typewriter Reference Site (Will Davis)
and Machines of Loving Grace (Alan Seaver),
as well as of course The Classic Typewriter Page (Richard Polt)
Here are a few examples:
This Sears portable came up for sale. It's an Olympiette, but with the colour, so like the Brazilian-made Olivetti Tropical. Compare:
Less easy to identify is this Nagoya-made Montgomery Ward Signature 511 which sold for $57 on US eBay this week:
It's a Nakajima, looking almost like a scaled-down Royal Safari. I'm pretty sure I have a Lemair which is the same as this, but I'd have to dig it out of storage to be sure.
On my post about the British Typewriter Company family tree, I mentioned SCM Empire-Coronas. Here's one which is a much more obvious SCM rebranding - this one sold this week on British eBay:
Another nice machine which sold (for $51) on US eBay this week was this Underwood 319 (which Alan Seaver on his site indicates is an Olivetti Lettera 92, a model I don't I've ever seen in the flesh). It may have made by Olivetti in Spain, or is it Japanese? Below it is an Underwood 378, as well as a Sears Achiever, from Will's site, and, at the bottom, from Alan's site, one of the typewriters of my dreams, one with similar swooping lines, front and back, a Montgomery Ward Escort 55 (which Alan says is a Barcelona-made clone of the Lettera 32):
On the subject of Underwoods, this Underwood 10 on Australian eBay is new to me. How it differs from the 18 I don't know, except that for once (in this line, anyway) Olivetti-Underwood seem to be have used a somewhat livier colour:
This Citizen, which was for sale on New Zealand's Trade Me, looks an awful like the Underwood 450 (which remains something of a mysery to me, as explained on an earlier post):
Another Citizen (?) looks like an Antares (Capri)-Mercedes variation. It's a Seville 3000, also from Trade Me:
And talking of the Antares, this (maybe Japanese-made) Antares 310 sold for almost $100 on US eBay this week:
Will's site has an Anatares 135:
A Boots typewriter (from the British chemist chain) sold on British eBay. It is an Erika, from the Robotron-East German factory:
A Nakajima ALL as a Majestic in Australia:
As well as yet another variation of the Nippo-Atlas:
And then, as the fun begins to wear off, some machines so non-descript I had temporarily forgotten what they were called - but the first one is a Montana masquerading under some other name, and the second is yet another version of the Nakajima ALL, this time as a Pinnock Craftomatic. Pinnock and Craftomatic were common Australian rebrandings:


Richard P said...

My head is swimming!

The Signature 511 looks good and substantial, particularly if that's a metal body. I have never run into one of these. Could it be a Brother? Compare the Signature 510 here:

Robert Messenger said...

Yes, Richard, you're right. Of course. That's why I thought it looked like my Lemair (which is possibly the 510?). Yes, it is metal. A surprisingly durable looking machine for a Lemair, but semmingly prone to rust (as some Japanese machines are). Thanks for that.