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Saturday 12 January 2013

Home to a Remington Home Portable Typewriter

A very special 'thank you' for their best wishes during my hospital sojourn this week to:
and Scott
I'm back at home again now, alive and well (for the time being) and ready to start blogging once more. I really appreciated your comments during this testing time.
The Remington Home Portable Typewriter was assembled by "British labourfrom parts made in the US. The typewriters were assembled at Remington's factory in London, starting in 1930. Remington did the same thing in Australia during the 1930s, with US-made parts assembled at a "branch plant" in Sydney.
This model has the serial number ES172714. The Typewriter Age Guide notes the "Home" model had a prefix of "ES" but its numbers start "to 176,000 1933-34", so I'm guessing this is a 1933 machine. British-assembled Remington portables had six-figure serial numbers. It seems to me that the earlier Remington portable, with the lifting typebasket, had the "Assembled by British labour" decal on the tray under the typebars. In Australia, assembled typewriters were simply decaled as "Australian-built". Here's an example of the earlier model from Rob Bowker's collection:
Remington's headquarters in London, dating right back to the days of Wyckoff, Seamans & Benedict in the 1880s, were at 100 Gracechurch Street, EC3.  The London factory where these "Home" portables were assembled, however, was nearby at 16 Crutched Friars, EC3N, close to the Fenchurch Street Station (it's on the Monopoly board, along with the Liverpool Street, Marylebone and King's Cross stations). The street name comes from the Roman Catholic religious order Fratres Cruciferi, or Brethren of the Cross. The name refers to the staff carried by the brothers, surmounted by a crucifix.
Gracechurch Street in 1908
Crutched Friars on Crutched Friars
In February last year I mentioned one of these British-assembled Remington portables, in this case a "Compact", in what I described as the most idyllic setting imaginable for a typewriter. The typewriter belonged to the Australian humanitarian Joice NanKivell Loch.  It is on display in a museum in Loch's former home in the Byzantine Ouranoupolis Tower, looking out over Siggiticos Bay from the top of the Mount Athos peninsula in Greece.
A "Home" Remington portable which belonged to a well-known British author was auctioned in London by Bonham's on June 26, 2007. Quentin Crisp (born Denis Charles Pratt, Christmas Day 1908; died November 21, 1999) was a writer and raconteur. He had used the typewriter to write The Naked Civil Servant. It was bought at auction by Paul Frecker for £1600.  Included in the lot was Crisp's passport, which he took to the US, Canada and Australia with his one-man show, An Evening with Quentin Crisp. He became one of New York City's most famous "Resident Aliens" when he moved to the US in 1981.
In the spring of 1999, Crisp sold his typewriter to Louis Colaianni, of Kansas City, Missouri, for $300. It was later sold to Stephen Milverton. The typewriter has the name tag "Crisp, 129 Beaufort St, London, England" [this was the famously squalid bedsit, where Crisp wrote The Naked Civil Servant and which inspired Harold Pinter's first play, The Room].
Crisp at his typewriter
Crisp wrote of his typewriter: "Many long, dark years ago, my career as a writer was launched on and with this typewriter. Painfully it spelt out The Naked Civil Servant and many more trivial works. As you will find, this machine is still operable. It is only I who am broken by time, useless, defunct."
Colaianni wrote: "Quentin Crisp ... brought it from England to America when he moved to New York City in 1981. There, for many years, it sat in his apartment atop a pile of books and papers. He no longer used it because one of his hands had become frozen with arthritis. His one misgiving about passing the typewriter on to me was that it would no longer be there to prop up his lamp. I have discovered that if you type on this typewriter it is possible to channel the spirit of Mr Crisp. Quentin has enjoyed writing notes (through me) to various museum visitors who never had the pleasure of knowing him. Please feel free to carry on this tradition."


Scott K said...

I never knew there was a 'Home' Variant. Fascinating. I'd love to try out one of these machines sometime.

As for your surgery - I assume we're talking skin? Keep us informed on how you go. Fingers crossed! Although, in the Typosphere, I think we should call it Typobars crossed.

Usually that would be a bad thing, much like "break a leg")

Interestingly, I have just a few days ago been offered work in oncology.

Miguel Chávez said...

Welcome back, Robert! Here's hoping everything will be OK.

I've really enjoyed the posts of your blogathon; still have a lot of reading to do!

Looks like you've already discovered the best therapy there is for anything: typing on a favorite machine.

Richard P said...

Typebars crossed, indeed! Keep us posted and best wishes.

Darcy said...

I’d love to procure a 1931-32 Remington Home Portable Typewriter assembled in Britain. Any tips welcomed.