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My typewriter collection and history page

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  • 06/29/14--08:07: Kmart Deluxe 100--1977
  • While this typewriter looks like it is an ordinary Brother compact portable, it is a model that is rare to find in Seattle--a Kmart portable. (Strangely, they are easier to find in Australia). I had spent four years looking for one of these at Goodwill, but never did. (But then again, there were only two Kmart stores in Seattle...and we had Sears and Penney's stores throughout the city)

    (Yes, this is definitely a 1970s ad, based on the plaid bell-bottoms. Also, notice that BELLEVUE is misspelled as "Belleview" [sic]. I have always wondered what Bellevue was thinking when they chose their name--see -- America's oldest hospital, founded in 1736--what a strange name for a city, yet there are 53 cities and communities named "Bellevue" in the world. Although I do find it funny that Bellevue, WA is called Bellevue, there are many worse names--for instance, Issaquah was originally named "Squak") 

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  • 07/04/14--11:59: Underwood 18, 1960s

  • This was not a very expensive portable typewriter--when it was made, its retail price was $39.88. That being said, it is a very pleasant machine to use. Generally, compact typewriters have keyboards that are too small for my hands. However, this is as good as a Brother in terms of keyboard size. Mechanically, it is a lot of fun to use. It prints very nicely, especially when a new ribbon has been installed. That being said, the ribbon color selector is in a very awkward position--it is placed next to the ribbon. 
    The case is in beautiful shape, and this typewriter even had its original instructions and warranty information. (I think it's hilarious that Olivetti made cases that were almost guaranteed to fall apart, yet they did not include the case in the warranty. That being said, the Underwood 18's case seems very durable, and easy to repair, if anything does go wrong/)
    This ad appeared in The Seattle Times, on May 19, 1971, on page A-7. 

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    For those with a charcoal Royal Quiet Deluxe, who would like to touch up their portable's paint, Ford makes a very similar paint color called "Sterling Gray." The ribbon cover of this one has been touched up in Sterling Gray:

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    I went to the big Seattle Goodwill store today, and found the best typewriter ever (and a Corsair):

     This typewriter was made in 1926, and was resold around the 1940s by the Washington Book Store (not to be confused with the University Book Store)

    The dealer decal from the Washington Book Store, 4316 University Way (NE), applied after 1943.

    The price tag that is on the case (I photographed to indicate that I really paid $15 for this typewriter)

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  • 07/23/14--13:18: Royal Quiet Deluxe, 1951
  • I traded in my 1970 Royal Signet and Kmart portable for this typewriter. That being said, this 1951 Royal Quiet Deluxe is easily the best example of this design that I've ever owned.

    The lettering on the paper table is raised!


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  • 07/23/14--13:44: Trip to Snohomish, 7/20/14
  • For those living in Seattle, the Metro Employees' Historical Vehicle Association (MEHVA) operates tours to various destinations in their historic fleet. Here are some pictures from my first bus tour (For some reason, I forgot to take a picture of the outside of our bus, in all of its "Sunshine" paint schemed glory--Metro operated many white buses with brown, yellow, and ochre trim. For a photo of the exact bus, go here For more information on the bus tours, go here:
     I love the use of brown, and "wood" inside the bus. It's amazing how much more comfortable bus seats were when this bus was produced (1987), than they are now (2014). Now, the bus seats are harder, and their padding is thinner.

    Here is the $40 typewriter I bought. The same shop was selling a pink Royal Quiet Deluxe for $500. Personally, I prefer the Futura 800's lines.  Out of the four Royal Futura 800s I have owned, two have been horrible. The other two have been perfect. (I sold the other one when its case went). The reason (I think) for the quality gap in the Futura is as follows: When Royal began making the Futura, they moved production of their portables from Hartford, Connecticut, to a brand-new factory in Sunshine, Missouri. They had to move all of their equipment to the new factory, and find new labor. The quality gap this creates is not specific to Royal. Another excellent example is the Continental portable: Wanderer-Werke originally made the Continental in Germany. They moved production to Belgium after World War Two, and quality suffered. However, Royal was able to fix the gap by September, 1960, when this typewriter was produced. By the time that they introduced the Safari (July/August, 1962), all of their full-size portables were of a consistent quality level. This level of quality somehow carried over to Portugal, when Litton outsourced it. (Say what you will about the plastic side panels that always seem to be bizarrely faded, mechanically, the Portuguese portables are just as good)
    Interesting Side Note: If you look at the patent numbers on the underside of the ribbon cover on a Royal Custom II (or Sabre, or any full-size Royal Portable, including those made in Portugal), the newest patent number is for the Futura's design. (Even on the Safari, mainly because the ribbon cover is a shared component.) If you look at the side view of the Futura, and compare it to the side view of a Sabre/890/Custom II/Custom III/Custom IV/990/Sears Cutlass (the gold one), their lines are incredibly similar.

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  • 07/30/14--11:07: 1956 Royal Quiet Deluxe
  • While its serial number dates it to 1956, this typewriter was made for the 1957 model year. The easiest way to determine whether your Royal Quiet Deluxe was made for 1957 is by looking at either the keyboard, or the ribbon carrier. If the carrier is made of more than one part, it is from the 1957 model year or later. If the keyboard has 1/! and =/+ keys it is also a 1957 or later model.

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    I went to the big Seattle Goodwill, and found one of the last Smith-Corona manual portable typewriters made, a Smith-Corona Classic 12 Correction/Typewriter. When I transferred buses, the case fell open, and out fell the Smith-Corona. After popping the ribbon cover back into place, I noticed that only 2 parts had been broken--the plastic margin stop toppers! 
     The very last manual Smith-Corona typewriter was produced on May 11, 1983

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    In 1950, when this typewriter was made, few Americans had heard of the Olympia portable. Those who were lucky enough to have known about them had no access to them until 1950, when the Inter-Continental Trading Company of New York City began importing them to the United States.  However, at the same time, a well-known foreign correspondent, Theodore H. White, was visiting Russia, where a diplomat sold him a light gray Olympia for $25. While it said "made in Germany" on the rear, he thought that it could have been made in Russia, and not "Germany". Add to that the general fear of Communism, and McCarthyism, and suddenly the German typewriter became "possibly Russian." The articles below are the results.
    And, of course, as it turned out, the J.K. Gill Company, the store that wasn't sure if they would ever sell Olympia portables, became one of the biggest Olympia dealers by the end of the's that for irony?

    Simply by looking at the typewriter, one thing becomes completely clear--the manufacturer took a lot of pride in their product--notice the raised Olympia logo in polished chrome. The typewriter has soundproofing in many places, including the resting place of the ribbon cover. The plastic knob caps are designed to look like 
    I forgot to mention the most ironic part--this typewriter is painted red! 

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  • 08/17/14--07:35: 1941 Underwood Universal
  • This typewriter was made in early 1941. I bought it at Red Door Antiques in Mount Vernon, WA. It is easily the best Underwood I have ever owned.

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  • 08/31/14--14:30: 1967 Royal 890
  • I bought this typewriter in Tacoma, Washington. It is a later model Royal 890--this can be identified by the Litton Industries logo, located to the right of the word Royal. (When I was younger, I used to think that the logo was a lowercase r instead of "li") It and the serial number put this typewriter at roughly 1967. Strangely, it is much easier to find higher-end Royals (like the Safari) and Smith-Coronas (Silent/Silent-Super) than their mid-range equivalents (like the 890, 990, Aristocrat, Telstar, and the Smith-Corona Sterling and Clipper models). This may be because of their prices compared to the additional features offered by the higher-end models (such as Magic Margin, a 1/! key, and a paper guide), which usually added very little to their price. For some reason, this typewriter has a tendency to glow when photographed: 

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  • 09/01/14--13:01: 1958/1959 Royal Quiet Deluxe
  • This typewriter was manufactured in 1958 for the 1959 model year. Mechanically, it is very similar to the Futura, with the ribbon controls located under the ribbon cover. The Royal logo acts as the ribbon cover release.

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  • 09/03/14--10:54: 1950 Olympia

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  • 09/17/14--07:37: 1950 Royal Companion
  • This typewriter was originally sold in Everett

    This is a dealer decal from General Business Machines, 2910 Hoyt Avenue, Everett, Washington

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  • 09/19/14--06:32: 1968 Webster XL-500
  • Apparently, this typewriter is way too shiny for a flash photo.

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  • 10/13/14--12:28: July 1969 Signature 511D
  • This typewriter is my latest acquisition--it is easily the best Montgomery Ward typewriter ever--it is even good by Brother's standards.

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  • 10/22/14--12:11: Smith-Corona Deville II

  • One of many Smith-Corona Corsair variants. I bought this typewriter in Bremerton last week. The padded carriage-return lever is a nice touch. While the Deville name was reserved for Classic 12 variants sold at Kmart stores, the Deville II seems to have been sold primarily by jewelry stores.

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  • 10/22/14--12:13: 1966 Royal Custom
  • I bought this typewriter last year. It was missing the  ribbon cover at the time, but I found a matching substitute.

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  • 11/02/14--14:33: Underwood 310
  •  Also known as the Olivetti Dora, Olivetti Lettera 31, and many other names

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