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Friday 8 June 2012

Marty Monkeys Around with Typewriters

ETCetera, the journal of the Early Typewriter Collectors' Association, has been lightened yet again in its latest edition, with another amusing letter from Martin A.Rice Jr, director and curator of the Johnstown Typewriter Conservatory in Pennsylvania.
Martin expressed his delight that in one of Peter Weil's Ephemera spreads, mention is made of a Reverend McConnell "coming to his senses" in exchanging a Blickensderfer typewriter for an "obviously superior" Oliver - "the flagship machine of conservatory". 
Yes, the Oliver is certainly the preferred machine for many, even for Monkees.
But I think Martin might be stretching it a bit in suggesting the Oliver is unique in "improving the lot of the differently able" - a reference to a photo in the previous issue of ETCetera, in which Carl Hermann Unthan, the famous German violinist who was born with no arms, is shown typing on an Oliver with his toes.
The Royal flatbed could surely make a similar claim on behalf of Miss Kittie M.Smith, of Chicago:
Kitty, like Unthan, had managed overcame her handicap (which, tragically, was not a birth defect) by becoming adept at many things.
Also, Getty has an image of what it calls "an apparently armless man" typing on what looks to be a Smith Premier, but dating it from 1920:
As well, it appears that some clever lady (at least I think it's a lady) can type with her toes on a Hermes 3000 - while lying down (presumably):
In a previous letter to ETCetera, which appeared in the June edition last year, Martin drew the attention of readers to the opening scene of the 1945 Hollywood classic I Remember Mama, in which an Oliver is used. Sadly, while there are many clips from this movie on YouTube, none appear to feature the Oliver (If such a thing as a clip had existed, I was hoping to be able to load it here).
As far as I can see, the same (that is, a lack of a suitable clip) applies to last year's Oscar-winning best picture, The King's Speech, in which Australian actor Geoffrey Rush, playing compatriot Lionel Logue, uses an Oliver. I can't say how accurate this is, and whether Logue indeed used an Oliver.
But while on the subject of British royals, some may have noted that England's Queen has been celebrating her Diamond Jubilee, in this case 60 years as a monarch. Did you know you could mark the occasion by typing her face, as it was when she was crowned?
But back to Olivers ... and Monkees, not all of whom, it seems, prefer Olivers, but in some cases Remingtons, Yosts and ... yes ... Royals!


Rob Bowker said...

Some of those people pictured above would get better results if they wound a sheet of bond round their platen. One of my first typing memories was diligently copying that portrait of the queen on dad's old Remington Model 5. I can't think of the occasion - it was before the silver jubilee - but it must have been the early 1970s. For better or worse, she's your Queen too, not just England's.

Richard P said...

Very entertaining!

Another ETCetera reader wrote me (by typewriter) to say that he's expecting an indignant response from Marty to Flavio Mantelli's claim in the June issue that the Fontana Baby is the only portable typewriter with U-shaped typebars. We will see ...

I think that "apparently armless man" may be Unthan himself!

Finally, don't miss the lovely portrait of the Queen just put up by Keira Rathbone on her blog.

Martin A. Rice, Jr. said...

My, I must be losing my touch to just come across this blog entry and of course I have to make a response, since Robert flattered me with such attention in his blog, which really should be a "Tlog" for "type writer log". I did reply to Flavio's piece but in praise since I believe he corrected his obvious error about the only portable with U-shaped typebars. And I must point out that for people who type with their toes, the Oliver is still superior since there are only 3 banks of keys making less of a demand on dexterity and less chance of striking the wrong key. Thus the Oliver is still the champion for the true connoisseur.

Marty Rice