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My typewriter collection and history page

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    In 1935, Bernard J. Dowd and Henry Hart filed a patent for a portable typewriter's outer shell. (The patent can be viewed and printed from ).
    Dowd and Hart also designed the Touch Control mechanism, which would be found on Royal Portables for many years. Dowd was born in 1883 in Cavan, Ireland. Hart was born in West Hartford, Connecticut in 1898, and started his career at Royal as a draftsman. By 1949, Henry J. Hart had become Vice President and Factory Manager of the Royal Typewriter Company.

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    This is one of the most common later-model manual portable typewriters. While the Classic 12 was introduced in 1964, its production only ended in 1983 when Smith-Corona ended manual typewriter production. This typewriter is from the 1980s--its high-impact carrying case was designed in 1979. (See the patent at ). This typewriter is frequently found at thrift stores--never hesitate to open a typewriter case (often manual typewriters come in the same cases as their electric counterparts.) I found this machine at Goodwill for $10 in October 2012. When I saw the carrying case, I first thought that it would be another electric typewriter. Then I opened it, and thought "wow," because it was a manual typewriter, and it looked brand-new. These pictures are of this typewriter. 

    Below is a two-page article from the Seattle Times/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, October 2, 1983 announcing the end of Smith-Corona manual typewriter production.

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    This typewriter was made in Germany in 1933 by Wanderer-Werke. It has a great feel, and prints even better. Its design reminds me of a mix of a Corona Four and a 1930s Underwood Portable. The case has a neat faux-alligator finish, and the typewriter gleams in even the dimmest light. The panels on the sides of the typewriter are made of the same type of plastic as ribbon spools. When I bought this machine, I asked the shop owner what he knew about it. He told me that it was imported by a "very German" friend of his wife's family. On the bottom of the case there is the remains of a label. The label reads: "...tern Institute for Ac... Seattle" After a quick search on the Seattle Times Historical Archives, I have come to the conclusion that the label originally said "Western Institute for Accounting, Seattle." The Western Institute for Accounting was located in the Leary Building, on Madison Street, between Second and Third Avenues. It was replaced in the 1980s by the Wells Fargo Center. The Western Institute for Accounting soon became Racine's Western Institute; by 1943, it had moved to 2005 Fifth Avenue. (for more about that building, go to

    A postcard of the Leary Building, circa 1909.

    The attention to detail of this typewriter is remarkable--the dark blue section of the base is a felt pad, designed to make typing quieter.

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  • 05/06/13--14:02: Smith-Corona Galaxie, 1961
  • The Smith-Corona Galaxie is one of the longest-lived typewriter designs. While the design of the Galaxie debuted in 1959, it was not discontinued until 1983, with the end of Smith-Corona manual typewriter production. This is an early model. (Note the simplicity of the Smith-Corona logo) Also, notice that the case still has a wide stainless steel band--later cases are black with an inch-wide band of stainless steel. This is easily one of the best typewriters that I have ever used. The Galaxie is covered more in depth at Robert Messenger's blog:

    Here is an advertisement for the Galaxie from The Oregonian, August 15, 1962
    Above is a page from a 1961 Belknap Hardware catalog.

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  • 05/09/13--13:29: Royal Telstar, February 1965

  • As I have mentioned before, the Royal Telstar is basically a Royal Safari without Magic Margin. It also lacks the 1/! and +/= keys. Here are some ads for the Royal Safari that were provided to me by Darryl Bridson at Royal:
    1962--First ad for the Safari



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  • 05/24/13--08:52: Brother Opus 889

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    This typewriter was made between 1979 and 1983 in the United States. These dates are an estimate:
    Smith-Corona began using brown plastic cases in the late 1970s, and ended manual typewriter production in 1983. By 1982, the ribbon cover had been redesigned to resemble the Coronamatic electric typewriter.
    Here is a late-model Classic 12 Correction Typewriter:

    and my Classic 12:

    My Classic 12 still has the padded carriage-return lever, and a black-and-red ribbon, instead of a black-and-correction ribbon.

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    Here is a 1960 Smith-Corona Silent-Super. This typewriter lacks the six stripes found on the ribbon covers of many Silent-Supers. It should be noted that the Smith-Corona Galaxie was introduced in 1961. It would later replace this design, which was internally known as the "Super-5." This is one of the highest-rated portable typewriters ever. It is also the first model of Smith-Corona to have a keyset tabulator.

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  • 05/30/13--12:23: Sears Tutor, 1966
  • As some of you may know, my photos tended to be very blurry. I've found out why and corrected it--for some reason, the default setting on my camera was "night scenery." Here are new photos of my 1966 Sears Tutor portable typewriter and a list of Sears Tutor serial numbers that were provided to me by Jay Respler of Advanced Business Machines:
    1966: 21000-47915
    1967: 39000-71945

    1968: 77000-96431
    For some reason, the serial numbers overlap from 1966-1967.

    My Sears Tutor was sold by Sears. I purchased it at my local Goodwill. My best guess is that it was sold by the Seattle Sears store, located at 76 South Lander Street in Seattle. This store has the significance of being the world's oldest continually operating Sears store. It opened in 1912 as a catalog distribution center; a retail store opened in 1925. After Sears stopped production of its catalog, the former Distribution Center was renovated as an office building, called SODO Center. By 1996, Starbucks had purchased the building for use as their headquarters. The building was damaged in the 2001 Nisqually Earthquake, but restored as Starbucks Center. It is the oldest and largest building to receive Green certification in the United States. The building was completely reclad after the earthquake up to National Park standards. Below is a rendering by Ron Wright and Associates, who designed the renovation:
    For more information on the building, go to

    The part on the left is the original building, built in 1912. The red center section is from 1914.
    Here is a November 24, 1912 photo of the construction progress from The Seattle Times. 

    This is a cake made for the building's reopening in 2003 (Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives)

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  • 05/31/13--08:15: 1973 Smith-Corona Classic 10

  • I bought this typewriter at the Seattle Antiques Market last year. It came with all of the paperwork, including the original sales receipt! When I bought it, the typewriter was covered in nicotine grime. However, I discovered a sure-fire way to remove it--Orange Palmolive dish soap.  
    This typewriter was sold by Burt Typewriter, at 1204 2nd Avenue. (Now the site of the former Washington Mutual Tower.)

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    This is my first comparison review. Both the Smith-Corona Skyriter and Brother Opus 889 are tied in position for my favorite typewriter, for different reasons.

    I like the Skyriter for its compact size, and sleek lines. I like the Brother for its performance, its lines, and its ease of use. That being said, I should also point out that the Brother uses a standard ribbon, while the Skyriter requires a respooled ribbon. The Brother Opus also features a tabulator, which, while preset, is just as useful as a keyset tabulator. While the Brother is only 3 1/2 inches tall, it feels better than a full-size portable, and has a full 88-character keyboard. My Brother also comes with all of its original paperwork (including its tags) and a catalog from Brother's Unique Boutique. It was one of the most popular typewriters ever, with ten million typewriters sold between 1961 and 1981. Of these ten million, 92% were destined for export. Many were sold by large department store chains (Woolworth's, Western Auto, Montgomery Ward's, and K-Mart). An excellent example of a Brother portable sold by a department store is the Wizard Truetype, which was made for Western Auto. Apart from different badging, the two typewriters are identical. The Skyriter also had a department store version, called the Tower Chieftain (made for Sears). It is also identical to the Skyriter apart from its badging. Both the Brother and Skyriter come in soft cases. While the Brother's case has one handle, the Skyriter has two. This makes it much more comfortable for carrying. Also, the Brother weighs fourteen pounds in its case, while the Skyriter weighs nine. The handle on the Brother is made of metal, which is covered in metal, while the handles on the Skyriter are thick vinyl. The handles on the Skyriter's case are much easier to replace than those on the Brother's case.

    The Brother uses standard 2-inch ribbon spools, while the Skyriter uses a special ribbon spool, with a hole between that of a standard ribbon and that of a prewar Remington portable. While the Brother can type in two colors and cut stencils, the user has to remove the Skyriter's ribbon to cut a stencil, and cannot type in red. The Brother not only has a preset tabulator, it also has a repeat spacer, for moving rapidly across the page. The paper supports on the Skyriter are like rabbit ears, and have to be pushed up manually; the paper support on the Brother is actuated by pushing a button on the rear of the carriage. While the Skyriter's keyboard feels small, the Brother's feels like it is the perfect size--not too large or too small. Part of the reason for this is the keyboard angle. The keyboard on the Skyriter is much flatter than that on the Brother. This makes the typewriter much flatter, but also less comfortable to use for long periods.

    The ribbon is very easy to access on both the Brother and the Skyriter. However, it is much harder to change a ribbon on the Skyriter, due to the fact that two pins on the spool have to line up with two small notches on the spindle. In comparison, the spool just drops into place on the Brother. It is also much easier to feed the ribbon through the ribbon carrier on the Brother, as it does not have to be pushed up and then down, like on the Skyriter.

    While the Skyriter was only ever available in a choice of one color, Brother offered different models in different colors, all with the same design. Some models, like the Brother Prestige 688, were offered in two-tone paint schemes. Others like the Brother Prestige, had twelve-inch carriages:
    Brother Prestige 688 in Harvest Gold and Brown

    Brotehr Prestige, with 12-inch carriage. 

    My 1970 Brother Opus 889

    My 1959 Smith-Corona Skyriter

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  • 06/04/13--13:08: My 1955 Royal Quiet Deluxe
  • This typewriter is easily the best $2 I have ever spent!

    This typewriter is easily my favorite Royal portable, because of its styling, its light touch, and its color. (Also the fact that I only paid $2 helps a lot too...) This typewriter was made in Royal's Hartford Connecticut in 1955, and has cream-colored keys, and a charcoal body. When I bought it, there was a clear label from Hartman Office Machines, in Bellevue WA in poor condition. I kept the label, and will recreate it to the best of my ability. For an idea of the label, I have enclosed Strikethru's Olympia Traveller, which was serviced by Hartman:
    The label is on the upper right corner of this typewriter. My label is clear with white lettering. I plan to put it on black paper, scan it, and invert the colors.
    Hartman Typewriter was established in the 1950s in Renton, WA, and initially sold Royal typewriters. By the 1970s, Hartman had two locations; one in Bellevue, the other in Renton, as seen on the dealer decal on the front of this Hermes
    This dealer decal is very similar to the one found on my Quiet Deluxe.
     By the 1980s, Hartman had moved to Bellevue. Hartman retired in 2010.

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    In 1940, Henry Avery, Joseph Barkdoll and Lionel Evans filed a patent for a compact portable typewriter. The patent number 2218736, became the Corona Zephyr. The Zephyr was the lowest-priced Corona typewriter. (It cost $29.75, and was in the same price range as the Remington Remette. Unlike the Remette, the Zephyr has a warning bell at the end of each line.) 
    Seattle Times ad for Corona typewriters from September 8, 1940. The Zephyr is on the left.
    Production of the Zephyr ended in July, 1942, when all typewriter plants were converted to manufacture weapons for the war effort. The Zephyr was redesigned around this time to the design we all know and love--the Skyriter. Production started in 1949.

    This full-page ad ran in The Seattle Times on June 8, 1950. It was the first ad for the Smith-Corona Skyriter, and one of the first for Northgate Mall, which has the distinction of being the first shopping center (in the United States) to be called a "Mall". The Bon Marche was the anchor store of Northgate. It is now a Macy's store, but remains largely original inside.
    Originally, the Skyriter featured a snap-on metal lid. By 1956, with the introduction of the 3-Y series, many Skyriters had vinyl cases. Around 1957, the familiar green "Colorspeed" keyboard had given way to white keys. On the original Skyriters, the Smith-Corona logo was made of metal. Most Skyriters have a plastic logo. After 1960, Skyriters were made in England. These typewriters have a smooth dark gray body, and came in a black vinyl case with a red interior. Around 1964, the Skyriter was replaced by the Smith-Corona Corsair.
    My 1959 Skyriter, with the inevitable paint loss caused by use of the space bar.

    The square holes serve as a reminder that this typewriter design originally called for a snap-on lid.
    The vinyl case that it comes in. It looks even more like leather in person!

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    Many typewriter collectors believe that this typewriter only looks good. However, I think that this is also one of the most comfortable typewriters to use. Very few compact typewriters are comfortable to me (I have big hands) but this one is amazing! (Even the keyboard angle is perfect!) Production of the Cole-Steel typewriter began in 1957, and ended in 1966. However, in Seattle, it was only advertised for two years--1958 and 1959. The color of this typewriter is "Cole Gray." While this typewriter has a serial number, it means nothing, as there are no serial number records for this machine. Based on 3 recorded sales, I think that this typewriter is a 1959 model.

    This ad appeared in The Seattle Times, November 22, 1959
    This ad is from the November 18, 1958 Seattle Times
    It seems that Cole-Steel typewriters were often sold with desks. (Cole-Steel was a manufacturer of office furniture. They contracted with Koch's Adler Sewing Machine Company, in Germany to produce a typewriter; Koch's had introduced a typewriter in 1955; Cole-Steel began importing it in 1957.)

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    The Remington Remette is the first prewar typewriter that I have customized. I was hesitant at first, until I asked Richard Polt, who maintains a site devoted to Remington Portables (Click to open the site in a new window) . 
    Two-hundred thousand Remettes were made between 1938-1942. He told me not to think twice about it. As a result, it is now two-tone, black and orange. For some reason, it looks very natural to me in this color scheme. 
     On the left is my Remington Deluxe Remette, from May 1940. On the right is my Remette, from January, 1941. The paint on the 1941 Remette was drab and chipped before I repainted it. The inspiration for the two-tone color scheme came from the Remington Model 3, which came in many two-tone paint jobs. The Remington Model 3 was the source of the Remette's mechanism, and many of its body panels. The reason I haven't painted the upper section is because of the decals.

    There are few differences between the Remette and Deluxe Remette. The main difference is the presence of a left-hand carriage knob on the Deluxe model, and a larger carriage-return lever. Neither of these typewriters have the 'bell and whistles' of the full-featured portables. (It does have adjustable margins, but not a warning bell.) Only 19,237 Deluxe Remettes were made between April 1940 and August 1941.

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  • 06/12/13--10:26: Cole-Steel Dealers, Seattle
  • Four typewriter dealers sold Cole-Steel typewriters in Seattle. These dealers were either large, well-established downtown typewriter dealers (E.W. Hall and Lowman & Hanford), or small, neighborhood dealers (University Mimeo & Typewriter Company), or office supply companies (National Office Equipment).  

    E. W. Hall, 1951 (Image courtesy of the Washington State Digital Archives)

    This article appeared in The Seattle Times, on August 11, 1961.

    The article above appeared in The Seattle Times on August 13, 1961.
    It is unlikely that my Cole-Steel was sold by E.W. Hall, because E.W. Hall always applied a dealer label to the typewriters that they sold. E. W. Hall was the first portable typewriter dealer in Seattle--they sold the Corona typewriter as early as 1911. (The Corona typewriter was introduced in 1907 as the Standard Folding typewriter--it became the Corona in 1912.) They moved into the Office Appliance Building around 1916. (The site is now home to the Henry M. Jackson Federal Building). In 1938, they moved to 1111 Second Avenue, which can be seen in the photos above the newspaper article.  A full-page article appeared in The Seattle Times about their move. In 1961, Hall's moved to 2015 Third Avenue. This building is largely the same as it was when it was built in 1913. By 1971, the building had become home to Acme Office Machines. In 1974, the National Maritime Union became the occupants of the building. It is now home to  the Compass Housing Alliance. 
    In 1966, a fire destroyed the building that stood next to National Office Equipment. This page is from The Seattle Times, June 5, 1966. 
    Very little information exists about National Office Equipment. It appears that it closed shortly after the fire that destroyed its neighbor.

    The building is now known as the Cedars Apartments. The facades of the former Olympic View Hotel (home to National Office Equipment) were incorporated into the building, which was built in 1988. (King County Assessor photo)

    University Mimeo & Typewriter Company was founded in the early 1930s. It was located at 4224 University Way from 1948 until the 1970s. This photo is from 1970 (Washington State Digital Archives). 
    The only article I was able to find about University Mimeo & Typewriter Company was from the Times Troubleshooter column, from The Seattle Times, June 29, 1966:

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  • 06/12/13--10:32: Lowman & Hanford
  • This ad appeared in The Seattle Times, on August 2, 1960
    Lowman & Hanford is on the far right of this picture. It became J.K. Gills in the late 1950s. (Seattle Municipal Archives)

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     These images were taken from microfilm at the Seattle Department of Planning and Development. They show the changes made to 2015 Third Avenue in 1961. In 1990, these changes were removed.

    E.W. Hall's former location as it looks now. Photo from the Seattle Historic Preservation Department, 2006
    These details are from the printouts of the building plans. The front of the storefront is seen above; the side is below:
    Here is the end result:

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  • 06/27/13--20:02: Sears Constellation II, 1969
  • This is my all time favorite 12-inch carriage typewriter. It was made by Smith-Corona for Sears in 1969.

    Below is an ad for the Sears Constellation II, from The Oregonian, September 3, 1970

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    The tan typewriter is the Lettera 22, the blue one is the Lettera 32

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