Sunday, August 28, 2016

Typewriter weekend

Scott's podcast, Type O +VE

The contest copy, devised by Ian Brumfield. It's not every typing contest that includes the word Luftschiffbau.

My rather pathetic entry in the contest: 36.6 wpm after deductions for errors.

It was still enough for me to win this ashtray!

Ian amuses himself describing the explosion of a giant gasbag ...

... with his Speed King:

And this is me gaping at Ian's machine (photo via Amy Friskney on Facebook):

Here's Kim Brumfield's cursive Hermes 3000 with deluxe case (chrome trim and cloth interior):

More scenes from a happy afternoon:

In other news, I'm thrilled that this new film by Doug Nichol is finally coming out! I am included in it along with many other typewriter lovers, some famous. This is going to be a must-see for anyone interested in the death and life of the writing machine.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Chicago

You can't beat a Chicago for looks. I wish it were easier to type on. The action is kind of stiff and clunky, and my type cylinder doesn't always rotate to the right position. If it worked better, I'd be plugging away at it!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Monarch 101 typewriter

One of my little summer projects, in between travels, has been restoring my Monarch 101. This was an eBay find, circa 2003, which I was excited to recognize and which no one else saw, so I got it for just $20 or so. Here's the original eBay photo that thrilled me.

And here's what the machine looks like today.

This rare model is a bulbous, office-sized machine that uses the Remington noiseless portable mechanism. Remington records say it was "also referred to as Model 5 1/2." So you can get an idea of the dimensions of the typewriter, here it is next to a Remington Noiseless 8, another attempt to create a larger writing machine using the noiseless portable mechanism. 

The Monarch 101 may also be found finished in wrinkle paint, and (particularly for export) marked "Smith Premier." Serial numbers range from A10000 to A11077. It was manufactured Dec. 1937-Apr. 1942.

When I got this typewriter, it was in rough condition. It had been exposed to decades of neglect in Florida, and was shipped with inadequate packing. The frame was cracked, the drawband was tangled, it was musty and rusty and dusty. Nothing worked.

Here are a few views of the restoration in progress.

I managed to untangle and reattach the drawband, and to get the typing more or less functional. It still won't grip the paper right and doesn't space correctly, but you can type a line.

I fixed the cracks in the frame using J-B Weld, touched up the paint with black marker and auto paint, and went over everything with Pledge furniture polish and a soft cloth, again and again and again. Pledge leaves an especially shiny, though not super-durable finish if you let it dry for a couple of minutes before you wipe.

Someday I hope I'll get this typewriter working well enough that it can type letters. Meanwhile, it has finally become a good-looking, eye-catching object.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Revolution in the Mailbox: From Linköping to Christiansburg and more

Many goodies were waiting in my real mailbox when I returned from London. Here's a sample. And to my correspondents, please excuse my tardiness in replying; more plans and responsibilities this month will probably make it a while before I get down to typing letters.

First, there's good news from Linköping, Sweden:

Next, and speaking of telegrams, the good news continues with an impressive mill-typed message from a certain typospherian. (A mill, for those who don't know, is a capitals-only typewriter used for transcribing telegrams.)

Also in my mailbox was this "antholozine" from Poems While You Wait, a dynamic team of street poets in Chicago.

The book collects some of the group's best poetry, all typewritten, and also includes a reflection by Eric Plattner on the demise of Chicago's Independence Business Machines. I'll extract one page here.

Finally, my thanks go to the correspondent who sent me a copy of the first issue of Footnotes, a new Swiss periodical about type design. Among other things, this issue includes a 1962 article by Alan Bartram on typewriter typefaces. Here is one page that includes some very interesting proportional typefaces used by Underwood on its rare Raphael.

Monday, August 1, 2016

A visit to Oxford

I'm back in Cincinnati now, after an eventful month in the UK.

On my last day before departure, I headed up to Oxford, a short bus ride from London. The town was thronged with tourists (this is far from the busiest street).

With a little creativity, though, you could get away from the hordes and find quiet places, such as the untraveled Logic Lane. (There's something to be learned there.)

At an antique shop, I spotted a Blue Bird (Torpedo) from the '30s. This is essentially the same design that was made in the UK as the Imperial Good Companion 3, 5, and 7.

The same shop had many old books.

I met typospherian Rob Bowker (Typewriter Heaven), who lives not far away. Rob toted a Hermes Baby in his backpack, but it never came out. Our meeting was an un-type-in, as he says. We just had too many other things to do in Oxford.

This woman was fashioning a wooden spoon such as the ones that Rob has started creating. The two of them had a brief discussion between experts.

We enjoyed bangers and mash at The Eagle and Child, favored by the Inklings.

Then Rob introduced me to the fascinating Pitt Rivers Museum, where tons of anthropological specimens are exhibited in cluttered cases, with more drawerfuls of objects underneath. They are arranged thematically rather than historically.

One of the themes is writing. Typewriters were not included, even though a sewing machine is on display next to more traditional sewing and tailoring tools.

Speaking of writing equipment, a shop specializing in fountain pens featured these nibs in its window.

And on the recommendation of La Vie Graphite, I visited Scriptum, a wonderful shop chock-full of blank, leather-bound journals. Yes, I got one.

Rob also took me to the impressive Ashmolean Museum. Thank you, Rob!

I'll close with a few more images from London.

I ran across this wonderful former Michelin showroom, featuring the famous Michelin Man, or Bibendum.

These touching plaques are in an inconspicuous corner of the Victoria & Albert Museum:

And speaking of animals, I found this to be a delightful name for a beer.

So long, Planet London. Till next time!