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Tuesday 1 January 2013

Typewriters Were in the News in 2012

Visitors look at a photograph by Fred Stein of Gerda Taro at a Remington portable typewriter in an exhibition, The Mexican Suitcase: The Rediscovered Spanish Civil War Negatives of Capa, 'Chim' and Taro, at the Museo Nacional de Arte de Cataluna in Barcelona.
The exhibition presented photographs by Robert Capa, Taro and David (‘Chim’) Seymour.
In December 2007, three boxes filled with rolls of film, containing 4500 35mm negatives of the Spanish Civil War – considered lost since 1939 - arrived at the International Center of Photography. In 1939, Capa had left his photographer’s studio in Paris and fled to the United States. His collaborator, Tchiki Weiss, saved the boxes of negatives from these great masters of war photojournalism. This become known as The Mexican Suitcase, having been found in Mexico.
Taro and Capa
Gerda Taro (real name Gerta Pohorylle) was born on August 1, 1910, in Stuttgart, and died on July 26, 1937, near Brunete in Spain. Taro had covered the fighting for Ce Soir. On July 25, as the Republican position faltered, Taro found herself caught in the midst of a hasty retreat. She jumped on the running-board of a car transporting casualties. A tank sideswiped the car, knocking Taro to the ground. She died the next day. Taro is regarded as the first female photojournalist to cover the front lines of a war and to die while doing so.
From The Mexican Suitcase:
Capa with Ernest Hemingway in Spain in December 1937
Taro, Capa and Seymour lived in Paris, worked in Spain, and published internationally, laying the foundation for modern war photography. Their work has long been considered some of the most innovative and passionate coverage of the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939).
Taro in Paris, 1935
Many of the contact sheets made from the negatives were on view as part of the exhibition. These images were seen alongside the magazines of the period in which they were published and with the photographers' own contact notebooks. The exhibition ended on January 15.
Seymour took this photo after the bombing of Gijon
in the Basque region in January 1937.
The Mumbai Godrej and Boyce typewriter factory may have closed in 2009, but the demand for typewritten documents, and to service those typewriters still in use, continued. This man, with his Godrej and Boyce Prima typewriter (one of the last made by that firm) set up on a sidewalk, makes his living as a scribe typing legal documents and letters for whoever wants to pay for his services.
This Privileg typewriter (a Czech Consul 224) was part of an exhibition at the Museum of Industrial Heritage in Nuremberg which paid tribute to the famous international mail order company Meine Quelle
The company donated the material after its bankruptcy in 2009. Quelle now appears to have been resurrected, in another form, for Internet trading. In English, the title of the exhibition would be, “My Source: The Story of a Frankish World Group". 
The company was founded in 1927 by Gustav Schickedanz and would “become the epitome of a German success story”.  From an 80-page mail order catalogue in 1928-29, Meine Quelle’s catalogues grew to 1400 pages and a print run of almost six million. The last version of the catalogue was for Autumn-Winter 2009-10. No doubt online buying put an end to it.
With regard to typewriters, Meine Quelle operated pretty much as Pacific and CFM did in Australia, and Montgomery Ward and Sears in the US. The typewriters were relabelled Privileg for distribution in Germany. The source was, in the early to mid-1960s, East European (Maritsa in Bulgaria and Consul in Czechoslovakia) and later Japanese (mostly Brother, see above, left).
Cristobal Ugarte, grandson of Chilean poet Nicanor Parra, holds his grandfather’s Underwood typewriter at the Cervantes Institute in Madrid. (The naughty young fellow is holding the Underwood by its carriage! Grrr!) He is seen here with institute general director Victor Garcia de la Concha. Ugarte presented the machine to add to Parra’s Caja de las Letras (Box of the Letters) at the institute. The safe box is placed where the former vaults of the Central Bank were. On April 23, Ugarte accepted the 2012 Cervantes Prize on behalf of Parra, aged 97, who could not travel to Spain for health reasons.
Nicanor Parra Sandoval (born San Fabián de Alico, September 5, 1914) is considered one of the most important poets in Spanish language literature. He describes himself as an "anti-poet" because of his distaste for standard poetic pomp and function - after recitations he would exclaim “Me retracto de todo lo dicho”, or "I take back everything I said".
On May 2 the Typewriter Manifesto, a manifesto for a revolutionary movement, was launched. The first rumblings of discontent came, I believe, from Cincinnati, Ohio (but I may be wrong about that). Support for the insurgency very rapidly grew and spread from the US throughout the world. The revolution remains at hand.
On June 13 Maya Stein completed an odyssey on which she had embarked on May 5, the day she turned 40, cycling from Amherst, Massachusetts, to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, toting a Remington Ten Forty portable typewriter behind her. She rode for 40 days and about 1300 miles, taking with her a folding table and chair. Along the way Maya stopped at communities, set up a mobile typing booth and invited people to contribute their words to a growing, collaborative piece of writing.
On July 13, actor Tom Hanks replied to Nerdist host Chris Hardwick, setting up what would become, in October, one of the year’s major news stories involving typewriters.
On July 9 Hardwick “baited” the avid typewriter collector into being a guest on his podcast by sending him a burgundy 1934 Corona portable typewriter.
Along with the typewriter, Hardwick sent a typewritten note, asking Hanks to “accept this typewriter-o-gram as a formal invitation to be a guest on my wildly-popular-with-the-kids Nerdist Podcast”. Hanks replied using his “new” old typewriter.  
On July 14, in Canberra, Australia, a two-month typewriter exhibition opened. It would be seen by 12,000 people.
Manson H. Whitlock repairs a Royal typewriter at his office in New Haven, Connecticut. The 95-year-old Mr Whitlock has been repairing typewriters since the 1930s.
Charles F. Wilson, 92, works at a 1937 Royal typewriter in his office in Memphis, Tennessee. The owner of the Wilson Lumber Company said his typewriter was vital to maintaining his business. He has had the typewriter since 1950.
A red Torpedo portable typewriter sits on a desk in the home of Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) in Pentling, just outside Regensburg in Germany. The Pope’s former residence (which he still owns) was inaugurated as a theological meeting place the previous month.
A typewriter-themed French comedy, Populaire, premiered on November 28. The movie takes its title from a model of a Japy brand typewriter (the 1953-55 Japy S18 does feature, but for most part Rose appears to be using a Hermes Ambassador).
Set in Normandy in 1958, it’s the story of 21-year-old Rose Pamphyle (played by Déborah François), who moves to Lisieux, meets Louis Echard (Romain Duris) and becomes an international speed typing star.

A visitor tries out an Erika Robotron typewriter in the WBS70 Apartment Museum in Berlin's Hellersdorf district. WBS70 refers to the 70th series of concrete slab construction first used in East Germany in 1973. Furnished entirely with original East German fittings (including, of course, the Robotron), the apartment museum was opened in 2004, when massive renovation schemes were about to be implemented in the area. It stands as a living memorial to everyday life and design in the former East Germany. 


Richard P said...

This is a fascinating selection of news items, very interesting. I hadn't heard of the "Mexican suitcase" -- what a treasure trove!

Ray said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this post. That was a photo of Hemingway I'd not seen previously. I absolutely love the idea of setting up a typewriter on the side of the road to provide typed documents. I've seen that someone provides that service through eBay as well (though it's less charming on eBay).

Miguel Chávez said...

I still know a couple of places in Mexico City where you can have your tax forms typed, or dictate a letter to an expert typist. They use old but reliable Olivetti models (they were very popular in Mexico).

In another location, right outside the IRS offices, there's a little place where you can actually RENT a mechanical or electrical typewriter to fill your forms. The mechanical machine is, of course, a Olivetti; the electrical (or rather electronical) is a battered IBM Wheelwriter.

Ray said...

I'm now very tempted to set up a typewriter on a folding card table in the city centre and see if anyone wants something typed.

maschinengeschrieben said...

But you forgot us!

shordzi said...

Thank you so much. I am very touched by the Mexican suitcase pictures.

Bill M said...

Thanks for the wonderful year end wrap-up.
Those are some wonderful articles.
I look forward to more of you posts in 2013.

A Very Happy New Year Robert!