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Thursday, 5 November 2020

Art Deco and Typewriters

The spring 2020 edition of Spirit of Progress, the journal of the Art Deco and Modernism Society of Australia, has been brought to my attention by a close friend who is an avid Art Deco collector. As such, he has in his home for safekeeping - for the time being - my streamlined Remington 5 typewriter, which Richard Polt in his Remington portables section of The Classic Typewriter Page describes as, "an example of the streamlined industrial design of the later Art Deco, or Art Moderne, period." My friend was excited to see that this model is featured in the spring Spirit of Progress, in an article called "Machine Age Writing Machines" by Carmel Taylor. Ms Taylor, I'm pleased to say, quotes both myself and Richard Polt, from oztypewriter and The Classic Typewriter Page respectively, as well from a 2016 article of mine which appears on The Charlie Foxtrot blog. Where she makes mistakes she is citing from less reliable sources, such as (which claims the Corona 3 first came out in 1915). It's interesting to see that the article is illustrated with Paul Braginetz-designed Underwoods, the first of which came out in September 1950, at least 10 years after the Art Deco period had ended. Anyway, here is her article:


Bill M said...

Interesting article. I would have missed the Corona, but caught the Underwood periods.
I've got a copy of that same typing book as well as newer editions. It sure changed over the years.

Richard P said...

I was willing to forgive her little errors about typewriters, but to speak of the US World War II effort in 1935 is just ridiculous!

I do think the Braginetz designs are good examples of Streamline Moderne, which is usually considered a kind of Art Deco. I wish there were more Art Deco typewriters.

Robert Messenger said...

Thanks Bill and Richard.
Richard, you're absolutely right to mention "little errors" (of which there were far, far too many) and the silliness about 1935. I thought it was a sweeping review based on cursory research, plucking bits and pieces here and there and not really getting any semblance of a proper grasp on typewriter history. It's upsetting to think that the age of the typewriter lasted at least 115 years and yet, just 30 years after it ended, "reporters" like this can't even get the fundamentals right. The business about the ribbons was nothing more than imaged rubbish.
I found it difficult to get through to the chap who gave me the magazine that the Braginetz machines aren't, strictly speaking, Art Deco designs, and he's now determined to get a Finger Flite. Anyway, the two-tone machine on the bottom left is, I think, an Underwood QDL?

Richard P said...

It's an Underwood De Luxe, which comes in three designs. I used to call this the Underwood De Luxe Quiet Tab, but Ted Munk has pointed out to me that the "Quiet Tab" designation appears on other models too. (And of course, it's pure marketing nonsense — nothing quiet about it.)