Thursday, May 17, 2018

Montgomery Ward Signature 810 electric typewriter

Once in a blue moon I check I was scrolling through and saw this picture, which made me pause for some reason. I sensed that this was something different. There was something about its shape and color that appealed to me. So I put in a lowball bid, figuring I might have fun playing with this plastic gadget.

I was the only bidder. When the box arrived it was surprisingly heavy. This was no plastic machine: its body was solid cast aluminum. And the shape was indeed intriguing, with a scooped-out keyboard area very reminiscent of the first IBM Selectric.

The machine was pretty grimy, as you can see if you compare the left half of the keyboard to the untouched right half:


Naturally, I removed the shell and did my best to overhaul the typewriter.

It's an impressive little piece of machinery:

And there are plenty of signs of high-quality design and construction, such as these well-hinged plastic paper guides that you can pull away from the platen.

Sadly, it's not working properly. There's a missing tooth in this rack that means the typewriter will always skip a space.

Well, it's still interesting as a piece of industrial design.

But what is this thing?

The Montgomery Ward Signature 810 was made in Nagoya, Japan, which marks it as a Brother product, specifically the type JP-4 electric machine (according to the helpful information on The Typewriter Database). The serial number on this specimen, F0693817, dates it at 1970.

This particular model is quite hard to find, as is the fancier 811D. This example seen online sets and clears the tab stops with buttons on either side of the tab bar, whereas the 810 only has pre-set stops. The 811D also has one typebar with exchangeable type (activated by the red key).

There is also a model 812D that I haven't seen.

These electrics were clearly designed in tandem with some manual Brothers, such as the Signature 511D (this is Ted Munk's machine).

I imagine that the 810 was not a market success because it lacked an electric carriage return and was probably pretty expensive, given the high quality of its materials and construction.

For some reason, I like this pastel green color much better than baby blue. How about you?

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Remington Sixteen

This machine was brought in for repair to Urban Legend Typewriters. It's going to be a graduation present for a high-school girl.

I've never actually gotten my hands on a Remington Sixteen before. This machine is essentially the same as the Remington 10, the company's first frontstroke typewriter, introduced in 1908—but this Sixteen was made in September, 1933. The model stayed in regular production until 1939, with a trickle continuing all the way into 1942 and the outbreak of the Second World War. By that time, this typewriter was truly an old-fashioned machine, which had been technically superseded in January 1939 by the all-new Model Seventeen. The 17 was the basis of the KMC and all the later standard manual Remingtons.

This typewriter needed plenty of cleaning and several repairs, but it's now working well and it is a very pretty machine. So I thought I'd share it on this blog.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Baltimore & Breker

I was in Baltimore last weekend for a conference and took the opportunity to check out the funky antique shops in the great Hampden neighborhood.

I did not walk away with a typewriter. The Underwood no. 5 in this shop was something like $495, and the Royal portable was $295.

I enjoyed seeing this ad on an Underwood shift key:

A few blocks away, I was hoping to visit Ken & Ray's typewriter shop (as seen on this blog a few years ago):

Sadly, it has been replaced:

The shop is part of a very picturesque street (click to enlarge):

Happily, Ken & Ray are still in business (info here) even though they no longer maintain this storefront.

Meanwhile, I got the latest catalogue from Auction Team Breker. The only unusual typewriter on offer this time is a Thürey, but there are many other beautiful mechanical antiques. As usual, I would like to offer this catalogue to a reader of this blog. The first person to e-mail his or her US address to me at will get it. (Update: the catalogue has been claimed.)