I've fashioned a few wedding typewriters in the past eight years, but not once did I ever imagine I'd be putting together one for my own wedding. Bill MacLane in Palm Coast, Florida, was kind enough to send congratulations after my last post, and rightly called it my "most important upcoming event". The big day, Bill, is Saturday, November 16, just 10 days away.
The wedding was initially planned five months ago as a very small, private affair. But as things are prone to happen, it quickly blossomed, and now more than 100 guests are coming - some from as far away as London, England, others from New Zealand and Western Australia. I have fed into the Silver-Reed 100 a rainbow ribbon sent to me for Christmas last year by my London-based daughter-in-law-to-be, who has already labelled the event as "The Wedding of the Year".
The marriage means there will now be three November wedding anniversaries for my immediate family. My son Danny was married on November 1, 2014, and last November 24 another son, Martin, was also married. I fashioned typewriters for both of their weddings:
The typewriters were used by guests at each wedding reception to type best wishes messages to the happy couples. This has been something of a fashion ever since I started blogging, eight years ago (3.95 million page views and counting), and I 've noticed that to meet the trend there are organisations which hire out typewriters for weddings. But I prefer the personalised touch, and for the couples to keep the typewriters as a memento of their weddings. An early inspiration for me was the beautiful Underwood portable given to Australian collector Ray Nickson by his new American father-in-law some years ago. It was through this machine (and the damage done to it by a repairman in Sydney) that I came to know Ray and his wife Alice.
The trend soon reached Australia, of course, and I have been asked to put together a few typewriters for non-family members, including this Olivetti Studio 44, which now belongs to Ms Constance Spry [Rose Marin]. Constance-Rose has had plenty of use with it in her Typewriter Letter Writing Service, and has kept it in very good nick. The colour, a metallic shade of pink, was chosen by the bride-to-be to match the bridesmaids' dresses.
For my own wedding, I had originally planned to use a very reliable L.C. Smith standard, but unfortunately in the process of cleaning it up I snapped the mainspring, so for the time being it's out of use. The L.C. Smith somehow seemed appropriate, as the same model was used when Ginger Rogers married Lew Ayres in Los Angeles on November 14, 1934:
How far back does the appearance at typewriters at weddings go? I can't say, but I do know that typewriters were used as props in a stage musical about a wedding in 1899.
It was vaudevillians Harry C. Bryant and Billy “Beef Trust” Watson [Isaac Levy, right] and their bevy of “Australian Beauties” ("Three Tons of Women") who put on “The Type-Writer’s Wedding” revue in New York and DC theatres 120 years ago. The Washington Times reported that Bryant and Watson’s Press agent was “not anxious to take his oath that the girls are really Australian but he is perfectly willing to pledge himself that they are beauties.” The “Type-Writer” – that is, typist - was played by golden-haired, shapely burlesque actress and cornet player, the “vivacious Kooda Kooda dancer” Ruby Marion, whose star turn was to “do the serpentine dance” in 100 yards of silk. Smith O’Brien played her groom. In Denver in 1902 Ruby renounced the stage for the Salvation Army and said she would convert her jewels into funds for “the good work”. “I have a deep-rooted conviction that some atonement is due for a life of levity,” she added. The lure of the stage was too great, however, and Ruby was back in silk the next year.
My wife-to-be, Harriet Barry, a jewellery maker, has already done "the good work" on me, setting me on the path to atonement after my own "life of levity". Redemption beckons ...