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Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Stax on the Mill* The Sydney Typewriter Collective

*"Stacks on the Mill" is a common phrase in Australia. It has its origins in an old English schoolyard game. Everyone just piles in. And that's precisely what this Sydney typewriter "collective" does.
Typewriters fixed, just like that!
Every Tuesday afternoon, there is a gathering in Western Sydney to talk typewriters. Nothing but typewriters. It's like being in typewriter heaven, in a sunny Sydney backyard. (Well, almost nothing but typewriter talk. It also emerged, as yesterday's meeting wound down, after four hours of solid typewriter talk, that a majority of attendees share a passion for Memphis soul, so the working title of Sydney Typewriter Appreciation Exchange has been bandied about. STAX. Gettit? I should explain that among the many items on the agenda were Mill typewriters.)
The founder members settle down for a "board" meeting. From left, Phil Card, Terry Cooksley, Philip Chapman and "chairman" Richard Amery.
A lot of typewriters are exchanged in one way or another at these meetings - repaired machines returned and the work carried out explained, others collected for repair work, along with suggestions of problem solving, "new" models demonstrated and offered for sale, "old" models proudly shown off. And in round table discussions, there is a deep sense of appreciation for every one of the typewriters that makes an appearance.
"Whoever invented Magic Margins should be taken outside and shot!" Richard Amery.
On top of all this, there is a great deal of exchange of the latest typewriter information, tales of typewriter repair days and happy yarns about typewriter use. One spy out in the field texted in images of that day's latest astonishing listing, for an Imperial 55 standard typewriter in Melbourne for a staggering $1000!
Would you pay $1000 for this Tom Koska offering? He says he won't take a cent less
Yesterday the genial mine host was typewriter collector Richard Amery and the event was held at his home in Rooty Hill. These gatherings have been going on for many months now, much to my considerable envy. Yesterday, for the first time, I was able to attend, and what a fabulous day it was. I'd love nothing more than to be able to attend each week, but it's a six-hour round trip for me from Canberra, and although I managed it on half a tank of petrol yesterday, it's a little too tiring to attempt on a weekly basis. Such a shame.
Phil Card explains to Richard Amery the work he has done on Richard's pre-Good Companion Imperial portable.
I was especially pleased to meet, for the first time, typewriter repairman Phil Card, from Colyton. Phil arrived with an early (pre-Good Companion) Imperial portable he had worked on for Richard, and explained in great deal his methods in a range of tasks, including getting spools to fit properly and fixing keytops and the alignment. This led to the chance discovery by me of an incredible coincidence, one which I will post about tomorrow.
My reason for making the effort to attend yesterday was because one of the four "founder members", Philip Chapman, of Charlie Foxtrot fame, had just returned back in the Southern Highlands from a hugely successful three-week typewriter hunting trip to England, where he and his wife Julie seem to have scored as much as a container load of machines to offer for sale here. So there was to be a full quorum, although another "new" member, typewriter repairman Warren Ingrey, now back in Sydney, was unable to get there.
Here is one of the prize catches Philip brought with him to the gathering, a Canadian-assembled Royal portable still with its original cardboard box:


Joe V said...

Wow! What a wonderful gathering. I'm more than envious. Thank you for sharing with us your visit.

Anonymous said...

Had I been there I could have bored everyone and talked about my collection of rare soul CDs. Mostly "stacks' of Detroit and Chicago soul, but still... :)

Richard P said...

This looks like really great fun. I hope you can attend once a month, or so.

Ted said...

Yes, what a neat gathering. I wish we had a weekly gathering around these parts. best I can do is a few times a month visit to the Typewriter Exchange (:

Graeme Robinson said...

Hi Robert. Do you know if STAX is still going? If so I would like to attend a meeting (I live in Sydney's inner west) but I can't seem to find any details of STAX anywhere other than your blog. Thanks.

Robert Messenger said...

Yes Graeme, as far as I know they still meet at Rooty Hill on a Tuesday afternoon - that is, Richard, Terry, Warren and Phil Card. The Chapmans now do business in England. Maybe you could contact Richard Amery?