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Monday, 5 August 2013

Typewriter Update, July 2013

One or two things, like trolls and milestones, got in the way of meeting a schedule to post a July update in July. Sorry 'bout that! So by now most of you will be aware of the The New York Times SundayReview article, I Am TOM. I Like to TYPE. Hear That?, which appeared on Saturday. Yes, I know that was in August, but my point here is that Tom Hanks and typewriters go back a long way. At least 33 years, in fact. Hanks is, in other words, no "Johnny-Come-Lately" in the Typosphere. Remember Bosom Buddies, one of Hanks' earliest appearances on a screen big or small?
Bosom Buddies was a sitcom starring Hanks and Peter Scolari which ran from 1980-82 on ABC and in reruns in 1984 on NBC. The show was about two young guys working in creative advertising, disguising themselves as women in order to live in the one apartment they could afford.
The show didn't rate especially highly, but became known for its quirky humour and its frequent use of improvisation, especially between Hanks and Scolari. The scene above is from the pilot show, and typewriters appeared in other episodes. Indeed, both intros I have seen on YouTube feature typing scenes. They can be seen here and here
Graphic artist Kip Wilson (Hanks) meets gorgeous resident model-dancer-nurse Sonny Lumet (Donna Dixon) and convinces aspiring writer Henry Desmond (Scolari) that the experience will make a great book. 
What's more, Hanks turned 57 in July. He was born in Concord, California, on July 9, 1956.
This listing appeared on Australian eBay on the weekend: "You are bidding on a 1908 Vintage Remington Standard 10 front-strike typewriter in Very Good Condition. This typewriter has been in my family for three generations and my grandmother has finally decided to begin using a computer. She has agreed to let her beloved typewriter go to a new home. Purchased between 1900 and 1910, this typewriter has been owned and passed down through three caring owners and has been very well cared for its whole life. It has served in a war secretary office during The Great War and was used by my grandfather in the Air Force during WW2. It still types perfectly and replacement ink is easy to get from any local newsagent ... Limited research confirms that the Remington Standard 10 typewriter was the first typewriter to be produced and sold in considerable numbers and considering its age, it is a marvel that it looks so familiar to modern eyes. The Remington 10 is a front-strike machine and on hitting a key, the type will swing up against the platen and leave an impression of the letter on the paper ... More information on the Remington can be found at: [This is a link to Paul Robert's Virtual Typewriter Museum and a Remington 2!].
"You can see in the photos that there are some signs of age, though this machine has been exceptionally well cared for, always covered to prevent dust entering the working parts, and remains in very good condition for it’s [sic] age."
I contacted the seller and pointed out that this was not a Remington 10. He left the listing description as is but added, "I have been advised that the information given to me by my grandmother may be incorrect. A specialist in typewriters has confirmed that this Remington Typewriter was from the 1950's, not 1908. Therefore, the information regarding it's [sic] use in the World Wars cannot be correct. My grandmother may have confused the details with another typewriter she had, though she assures me what she remembers about this typewriter is correct. Because I cannot confirm, you will have to be the judge. If you have information which confirms the age of this typewriter, please use this information in your decision to bid."
The starting price is 99 cents and somebody has put in a bid. One of my good typewriter collecting friends up Queensland way, who for the time being shall remain nameless, is considering bidding, just for the hell of it.
Having read, with increasing disbelief, the above description, I now fully expect to find listed on Australian eBay shortly this typewriter, plus elephant and trainer:
Then pigs might fly, too ...
Another Australian eBay seller, this time in Victoria, listed this repainted Remington (above) with the phony name badge. At least the seller was closer to the actual date of production by calling it a "1970's silver typewriter". There were no bids at $5.
What looked like a genuine Remington 2 sold last night for $380.
On July 12, an Indian worker was photographed looking at Olympia manual typewriters in a store room at the Targhar telegraph office in Allahabad. Thousands of Indians crammed into telegram offices to send souvenir messages to friends and family in a last-minute rush before the service shut down on July 14. That was the last day that messages could be accepted by the 162-year-old service, the last major commercial telegram operation. Some 20 million messages were dispatched from India during the subcontinent's bloody partition in 1947.
See "Nostalgia: Telegraph is past, are typewriters on extinction path too?"
This is what was left of an Olympia manual typewriter at the destroyed and burnt local headquarters of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in Chilpancingo, capital of Mexico's Guerrero State, in April. Teachers angered at education reform stormed the offices of political parties in south-western Mexico, breaking windows and setting fire inside the ruling party's local headquarters. Thousands of members of the CETEG teachers' union, joined by farmers and student groups, marched in Chilpancingo, while groups wearing masks took their anger out on the offices of four political parties.
"Its working title was 'Flying Walnut'". Gee, they were keen to get a close look at this IBM machine and its golfball when they was launched in Moscow in 1961. This was on display at a Communications USA exhibition. Below is the same machine in a Bingham museum:

This full-page spread was published by the US Government Printing Office in the mid-1890s. It shows "scenes in the development of the typewriter". It appeared in The Growth of Industrial Art and is in the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. Starting from bottom right, I can recognise Hammond, Hall, Sholes & Glidden, possibly Francis, Pratt, perhaps Thurber, but the top row has me beaten. Remember, Burt was probably unknown (or rather forgotten) at this stage.
Of course, it concentrated on mostly US efforts, but there was a lot going on in Italy, too:
600 pieces of wood from about 100 pieces of brass
Giuseppe Ravizza was born in Novara on March 19, 1811. A lawyer by training, and a mayor of Nebbiolo, he was a prolific typewriter inventor, "spending most of his life obsessively grappling with the complexities of inventing a usable writing machine" and producing as many as 17 prototypes between 1837 and his death in 1885. He called this 1855 invention "Cembalo scrivano o macchina da scrivere a tasti" ("Harpsichord clerk or typewriter keys") because of its piano-type keys and keyboard. 
Ravizza's September 14, 1855, patent
Apparently Ravizza learned that Pietro Conti Civalegna, in a town near Novara, was working on a writing machine and developed the "Scribe harpsichord." The Model No 9 was exhibited in art and technology shows in Novara and Turin in 1856-57, winning Ravizza a bronze medal and an offer of 200 lire for the machine from Baroness Elizabeth Klinkowstrom.
Ravizza with his wife and daughter
Ravizza died in Livorno on October 30, 1885.
Havana Vieja, Hotel Ambos Mundos, Room 511.
When I saw the Edelmann branded a Columbia (see below) at Museum Victoria's ScienceWorks in Melbourne a couple of years ago, I remarked how valuable it must be. But I really couldn't give the curators much idea of how valuable. In July the one at top sold in Sydney for $1695 after 25 bids. The seller contacted me before listing, but since his emails appeared under three different names, I wasn't sure what to make of the offer. When I queried this, I of course got no reply.
Above, the model owned by Museum Victoria
This Franklin sold in the US for $1525 after 39 bids.
This Lee Spear Burridge-Newman Russell Marshman designed Sun index appeared to have not sold at $4500.
It was again heartening to see typewriters fetching significantly higher prices in Australia, with this well-presented Hermes 2000 selling for $112 and the Consul 231.2 masquerading as a Pacific reaching $80 after 30 bids.
My last ETCetera column mentioned that Nippo was established primarily to make calculating and cheque-writing machines, and duly one appeared on Australia eBay:
On the subject of Nippo, an Atlas was listed in India as "Indian-made". I messaged the seller to confirm this, but got no reply. Most Atlas portables do not have a country of origin marked on them:
If typewriter sellers really want a decent price for their items, it might help them if they stop and get out of the car before taking a photograph of it (no, no, not the car, the typewriter!). It's called "focus", and there's often a little switch or dial on the camera which will help you do it - automatically!:
A bit of a clean-up wouldn't go astray, either:
 Yet another Brother branding!
Compare the Rapida above with my IMC Primavera 2000 ...
I still can't quite pin down the Italian-made Esselte Compact 350 Richard Polt saw on his trip to England last month, but I'm now leaning back toward Antares rather than IMC:
POSTSCRIPT: Yes, it is indeed an Antares Compact 350, which was my initial thought:

Below, a Triumph (Nakajima?), a something 1000 that is usually seen as an Antares Compact 33 or 223 or an Underwood 16.
(Typing, "Here's to you, Joe DiMaggio")

Italian singer and actress Giorgia Moll lying on the floor typing. Rome, March 1957. Giorgia Moll, born 1938, was one of the many beauties with whom the Italian cinema teemed in the 1950s and 1960s. Her harmonious face, her perfect brown hair and her dream measurements did not escape the talent scouts of the time and she was only 17 when she was hired for her first film. In 1955, columnist Walter Winchell wrote: “Joe DiMaggio’s new doll is Giorgia Moll, who flipped over him at first sight in Rome. She’ll be Italy’s next big film star…” Another columnist, Lee Mortimer, in August 1957 wrote, "Italian eyeful Giorgia Moll may come here for the preem of The Quiet American which would make Joe DiMaggio a happy American…” Joe, of course, had a typewriter to write back with:


Jasper Lindell said...

I always look forward to the monthly updates, Robert, and they're always worth the wait.

McTaggart said...

That was very amusing Rob, I wish I could tell that seller that I have at least six of those "Remington 10,s", maybe I could off-load a few onto him, I could do him a good price. The bogus label on that SJ came of the last Remington NJ model cheap and nasty just likes its label.

Bill M said...

Very wonderful article Robert. I am always amazed at what detail you can find.

I love those Ebay posts. I see similar here on USA Ebay.

Richard P said...

One of my favorite recurring features on oz.Typewriter!

At home I have a copy of "scenes in the development of the typewriter." I'll have to look up the caption.

Rob Bowker said...

Sorry, couldn't really concentrate on the typewriters. Too busy wondering whether or not Ms Moll's scarf goes with the bikini outfit...

Ken Coghlan III said...

I'm now convinced that beautiful women love Olympias. What a relief for me! Now, someone please tell my wife...

An outstanding update, as always. These are your best, Robert.

Steve Snow said...

Great update. I'm going to bid on that "1908" Remington just so I can meet the guy who came up with the ad. Maybe say things like "wow, I actually think this is earlier than 1908, more like the late 1800's. You can tell by the plastic keys"