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My typewriter collection and history page

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    If I had to pick a favorite typewriter, there is a good chance that it would be this one:

    This typewriter was manufactured in 1959. It is one of the last American-made Smith-Corona Skyriters; later ones were made in Great Britain.
     Notice that this typewriter has the longer carriage-return lever. This can be found on the Corsair series as well.
     Like most Skyriters, a large amount of paint had rubbed off of the space bar. I repainted the space bar in a color that perfectly matches the case of this typewriter.
     This typewriter even had the original manual! And the brush!
    There were ten Smith-Corona dealers in Seattle in 1961
    • Burt Typewriter, 1204 Second Avenue, Seattle
    • Clark Stationery Company, 12750 Bothell Way (now Lake City Way), Seattle
    • Foster Office Equipment, 457 SW 153rd, Burien
    • Gene Brown Typewriter, 5511 24th Avenue NW, Seattle
    • Lowman & Hanford, 1515 Second Avenue, Seattle
    • MacDougall & Southwick, Second and Pike (Now a parking lot behind City Target), Seattle
    • Record Stationery and Office Supply, 801 Walla Walla Avenue, Seattle
    • Tom's Typewriter and Hobby Shop, 3402 Claremont Avenue South, Seattle
    • University Book Store, 4326 University Way NE, Seattle
    • Washington Book Store, 4316 University Way NE, Seattle (Now part of the University Book Store
    These dealers were sourced from a Seattle Times advertisement. All of these dealers sold Smith-Coronas in 1959 as well. Because the typewriter is unmarked, I am guessing that it was not sold by a typewriter shop, but rather a department store. However, most typewriter dealers in Seattle did not bother to label compact typewriters. (I have seen a report of a Royalite that was sold by Burt Typewriter that did not have a label, but came with a receipt.) Burt Typewriter was a very high-volume Smith-Corona dealer. Since this typewriter was purchased directly across the King County Line, in Edmonds (barely), I am guessing that it may have been sold in the North End, or Downtown. If this is true, it removes Foster Office Equipment (who labeled all typewriters), Tom's Typewriter and Hobby Shop, and Record Stationery and Office Supply. Lowman and Hanford put metal labels on the cases of the typewriters that they sold (the two labels said "L" and "H".) Since there is no label on the case, I can probably rule out Lowman and Hanford. MacDougall and Southwick was on its last legs by 1959, partly because of its out-of-the-way location. This does not rule it out, but the odds are against it. That leaves Burt Typewriter,  Clark Stationery, Gene Brown, and the two UW Bookstores (Washington Book Store was separate from the University Book Store.) The University Book Store labeled the typewriters that they sold, leaving Burt Typewriter (possibly), Clark Stationery (very likely), Gene Brown, and the Washington Book Store. Gene Brown was located in a relatively out-of-the-way location in Ballard. Both the Washington Book Store and Clark Stationery were located on very main streets (University Way, better known as "The Ave," and Lake City Way, respectively.) This typewriter was very well cared-for, and had the manual and the brush, making me think it belonged to an older person. (I think if a college student had used it, the case would be more scuffed, and the typewriter would be more worn-out, due to use.) I think that this typewriter was a prized possession--the case shows very little wear, there was only minor paint loss on the space bar, and there is only one chip out of the finish, caused by the carriage-return lever. The Skyrier was the bottom of the Smith-Corona line. As a result, these typewriters were often used as second typewriters, or for students. I think that someone saved every penny to buy this typewriter--it is a very clean machine, requiring no lubrication or cleaning. (This was true when I bought it, too.) The ribbon was slightly dry when I bought it (I have replaced it with a better one, but kept the original as a backup) The case was remarkably clean--there was only a small amount of dust.

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  • 09/03/13--08:14: 1954 Remington Quiet-Riter
  • According to official Remington records, this typewriter, serial number QR-2704157 was made in late April, 1954. The typewriter's printing is quiet, but the other machinery is noisier. The case is lined in the same kind of felt as a pool table. In my experience, most Remington portables have the larger Pica typeface, but this one has Elite type. This typewriter works incredibly well, especially considering its age--it needed no adjustment, or cleaning. 

    For more information about 1950s Remington Portables, read

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    This case looks brand-new. Notice the lack of wear on the handle. 

    I think that this case is for an older Lettera 22, notice how small the zippers are.

    I put the red casing on my 1956 Lettera 22, and its casing onto this one. 
    This is the manual that came with this 1957 Olivetti Lettera 22. On the back, the original owner stamped the name "JUDY", twice.

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    The Seattle Times, September 28, 1962

    The Seattle Times, September 7, 1961
    The Seattle Times, October 18, 1962

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    For two months, I have been trying to figure out the Page-End Indicator on my Cole-Steel portable typewriter. I began to explore sites written about the ABC and Cole-Steel portable typewriters (the ABC was the European name for the Cole-Steel) When I found this instruction page on Will Davis' site, I was ecstatic, and amazed at how truly simple the Page-End Indicator on the Cole-Steel truly is. (It is so simple that it is difficult.)

    The German instructions for the Page-End Indicator
    (originally from Davis Typewriter Works)
    This diagram shows three sizes of paper (A4--roughly 8 1/2 x 11 inches, A5--roughly 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches, and A6 paper, which is smaller. These sizes correspond to the shapes on the right carriage knob of the Cole-Steel. Here are approximate instructions for using the page-end indicator:
    1. Line up the arrow with the rectangle that matches the size of your paper--the long rectangle is for Letter size, the smaller size is for Statement (1/2 letter).
    2. Insert paper into the carriage.
    3. When the rectangle for letter appears for the third time, you are at the end of the page. Remove the paper, and repeat steps 1-3 for each additional page.

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    Top: A factory two-tone ABC. (Thomas Furtig collection)
    Above: Another factory two-tone paint job. (Thomas Furtig Collection)

    Bottom: My custom two-tone Cole-Steel (also an ABC) from a similar angle.

    The ABC portable was available in several different cases. The Cole-Steel's standard case is a snap on lid, with a snap-on baseplate. The Deluxe case was leather.
    1957 ABC Advertisement, from the Thomas Furtig Collection.

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    On September 19, 1949, Smith-Corona ran a full-page ad in Life Magazine advertising the "new 1950 Smith-Corona Portable." Advertised as having "the touch and action of an office typewriter," the new portable sold so well, that it was not discontinued until 1960. The keyboard, which lacked metal rims, was called the "Colorspeed" keyboard, partly due to the different color of the function (backspace, shift, shift-lock, margin-release, and tabulator) keys. Later models were available in many bright colors, with white keys. (The Silent and Super models became the Silent-Super in 1954. The colorful versions are either Silent-Supers, or Sterlings. The Sterling model continued with this design until 1962--the ribbon cover was slightly modified for 1964-1966, and was dropped for the 1967 model year.) These typewriters are incredibly well-made, and if a key is disconnected, it can be fixed with minimal effort with a mechanical pencil, or a small screwdriver. The arm that connects the keys with the typebars was intentionally designed to be easy to reconnect. The arm has a hinged pin that can be moved to realign, and then put into place. This feature started on the 1950 model, and continued until the end of Smith-Corona manual typewriter production in 1983. It only applies to the full-size models.
    From Life , September 19, 1949.

    A well-used, yet well-preserved example of the 1950 Smith-Corona Silent

    Another view of the 1950 Smith-Corona. Notice the six stripes on the ribbon cover. These can be found on certain Skyriters, and the Silent, Super, and most Silent-Super models.
    A 1954 photo of an office-machine display at H.D. Baker Business Machines,
    in Tacoma, WA (Image Courtesy of Tacoma Public Library)

    H.D. Baker's new home, Tacoma, WA, 1955

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  • 09/12/13--10:27: Refreshed Red Royal
  • When I bought this Royal Custom II in November, 2012, the paint was very rough. Here is a picture from November, 2012. Notice how dark and chipped the old paint was. I was able to find an identical color, with a built-in primer. This new paint was much better quality than the original paint, which was not primed. The best part is that it is a perfect match!
    As it looked when I bought it.

    As it looks now.
    I painted everything except the carriage and the plastic parts. 
    The color is called Cherry Red.

    The lower parts were painted. The carriage was not--it is a perfect match--notice the area behind "Royal."
    The basic design of this typewriter became the Royal Precision Portables--the Royal Sabre and Royal Custom III. The Royal Sabre was introduced in 1969, and continued in production, unchanged, until 1981. The Custom III continued until 1977, when it was replaced by the Royal Custom IV.
    Royal Custom IV. Notice the dark carriage, and dark keytops. Also, notice the shape of the keytops, and the printing on them. This typewriter was made by Messa of Portugal. 
    This typewriter is essentially a more streamlined Royal Futura, which dates back to 1958. Mechanically, the basic design dates back to 1927, when the first Royal Portable entered the market. The design was improved over the years, with the following features:
    • Royal begins making typewriters--1906
    • First Royal Portable introduced--1927
    • Ribbon enclosed--1930
    • Hinged "Duo-Case" carrying case--1930
    • Tabulator--1930 (optional on some models) [Portable 2]
    • Touch Control--1934 [Model O]
    • Segment Shift--1939 [Quiet De Luxe]
    • Synthetic plastic carriage knobs--1939 [Quiet De Luxe]
    • Magic Margin on both sides--1948 [Quiet De Luxe]
    • Touch Control hidden under the ribbon cover--1948 [Quiet De Luxe]
    • Tweed-covered Fiberglass Carrying Case--circa 1949 [Quiet De Luxe]
    • Plastic Keytops--1951. [Quiet De Luxe]
    • Push-button Magic Margin--1951 [Quiet De Luxe]
    • Line Meter--1953 [Quiet De Luxe]
    • Push-button ribbon cover--1953 [Quiet De Luxe]
    • Dual-anchor carrying case with cleat--1955 [Quiet De Luxe]
    • Addition of "1/!" and "=/+" keys--1957 [Quiet De Luxe]
    • Twin-Pak Ribbon--1957 [Quiet De Luxe]
    • Easy-change ribbon guide--1957 [Quiet De Luxe]
    • Keyset tabulator--1958/1959 [Futura]
    • Ribbon Color selector hidden--1958/1959 [Futura]
    • Paper bail removed on most models--1962 [Safari]
    • Longer carriage knobs--1962 [Safari]
    • Saddle-grained molded plastic carrying case--1962 [Safari]
    • "Swing-Away" Handle--1962 [Safari]
    • "Magic Meter" (plastic ruler on the front of the carriage, with holes for a pencil--for making tables)--1962 [Safari]
    • Lift-Off Ribbon Cover --1962 [Safari]
    • Touch-Control moved to keyboard--1962 [Safari]
      • Touch Control now has three positions
    • Ribbon Color Selector moved to keyboard--1962 [Safari]
    • Molded Plastic front panel--1962 [Safari]
    • Vinyl Carriage-Return lever--1965 [Custom]
    • Paper-Bail reintroduced on Custom Series--1965 [Custom]
    • Rubber decorative panel--1967 [Custom II]
    • Plastic carriage ends--1967 [Custom II]
    • Plastic body-side panels--1972 [Sabre]
    • Carrying case squared-off--1972 [Sabre]
    • Production moved to Portugal--1972 [Sabre, Custom III]
    • Keytops become square--1979 [Custom IV, Sabre]
    • Full-size Royal Portable production ends--circa 1982 [Custom IV, Sabre] 

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  • 09/15/13--15:51: Refreshed Olympia SM-7, 1964
  • When I was given this typewriter, the ribbon cover was scraped and scuffed. I repainted the ribbon cover in a brighter shade of white. The rest of this typewriter is original.

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    The carrying case that my 1949 Smith-Corona Silent came in was very scuffed, with a scrape that looked like it had been brushed against a brick wall. This was half of my inspiration to put a landscape on it. The other half of my inspiration was this 1930s postcard:

    Here is the (temporary) end result--I plan to eventually paint more detail into this scene. For now, it is mainly a line drawing, done in crayon.:

    My goal was to capture as much of Seattle's skyline (circa 1949) as I could. In the foreground in this geographically impossible landscape (think Frasier's windows), is the Smith Tower. Behind it on the left, is the Northern Life Tower (now Seattle Tower). In the background (making it geographically impossible), is Mount Rainier. However, the postcard is more geographically impossible... 

    As some may remember, this typewriter was missing the right-hand carriage knob. I found a spare, and put it on. I also cleaned up the paint, lubricated it, cleaned the burnished metal logo, and replaced the ribbon. The carriage-return lever wobbled because it was missing both of the screws that anchor it in place, and was held on with a paperclip. I replaced the paperclip with both of the proper screws, and it now works like it is brand new!

    Here is the first Seattle Times ad to feature the Smith-Corona Silent (in the Super-5 style)

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    I will be refreshing the finish on this typewriter on Saturday. Here is a "before" photo. I paid $2 for this typewriter in 2010. I will be repainting the front panels in the original charcoal. The splotchy square is from a 1990s dealer decal that I have removed. When my restoration is finished, it will look like new. I will only be repainting the ribbon cover, and the panel with the word "Royal" on it. The other panels are in much better shape. I think that the center panels were done with a different batch of paint, because, when viewed in natural light, they are a slightly different color. Also, the sides are not splotchy, while the center panels are.
    This is a section from a Meier and Frank ad from November, 1955, advertising the colors. Charcoal appears to be the rarest color that this typewriter came in.
    The case is non-original--charcoal Quiet Deluxes had gray-lined cases; mine is green-lined. This typewriter was made in August, 1955, according to Jay Respler of Advanced Business Machines, Freehold, NJ.

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  • 09/20/13--09:14: Another Refreshed Royal
  • With any luck, my Quiet Deluxe will turn out as well as this red Custom II that I did recently. (I know that it will be as high-quality, but I doubt that I will have as much luck in matching the color. I personally think that the Quiet Deluxe was made to be a two-tone typewriter.)

    For some strange reason, Royal never made a two-tone Quiet Deluxe. There were two-tone Aristocrats. Early  boxy Quiet Deluxes were two-tone, as well as the gold-plated models. Here's Ian Fleming's typewriter

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  • 10/17/13--06:23: Remington 666, April, 1968

  • The serial number is decoded with a letter and the first number. The letter indicates the month (A=January, B=February, etc.) The number is the last digit of the year. (This serial number is D8930656, meaning it was made in April, 1968. It is also the 930,656th Brother typewriter, as all Brother typewriter serial numbers are sequenced in the same list) Even though the serial number plate says Remington, it is a Brother. (For the most part, any typewriter manufactured in Nagoya, Japan, is a Brother typewriter.)
    This is a typewriter that I have wanted for a long time. I couldn't have found a better example, either. This typewriter came with its original case, manual, and warranty card (which was left blank). I bought it at an antique shop/jeweler in Bothell, WA for an exchange and $8. It works incredibly well, and is incredibly easy to use. It is also the first Brother typewriter that I have had that is equipped with a keyset tabulator, and the second-smallest typewriter that I own that is equipped with a keyset tabulator (the smallest being an Olivetti Lettera 22). Unlike other Brother portable typewriters, the backspace key is on the left. It is also slightly larger than the typical Brother portable (see Remington 333, below). Its knobs are much larger than that of the Akio Kondo-designed Brother portable (which is the most commonly found portable typewriter in the world, after the Hermes Baby. Ten million examples were made between 1961 and 1980.)
    The Remington 666 is a rebadged Brother Opus 895. Brother began manufacturing typewriters in 1961, and began exporting them in 1964. 
    The Brother Opus 895
    The Remington 666 was a result of badge-engineering. Remington realized that it would be cheaper to import typewriters than to make their own. However, the 333 and 666 are very fun to use, and very durable. The Remington 333 was the lower-priced Remington portable.
    Remington 333 portable, circa 1968

    The Remington 333 is an excellent example of Brother's standard portable, which made its debut in 1961. While the Remington 666 was rarely advertised (except for small towns in the Midwest), the Remington 333 was advertised in many major cities. The Opus 895 and Echelon variant were advertised more than both of the Remington versions.
    The Seattle offices of Remington-Rand were located at 2720 3rd Avenue:
    Remington-Rand's Seattle offices, 1958. This building was recently demolished, and is now the site of the Mosler Lofts.

    From The Seattle Times, November 14, 1968
    From The Oregonian, March 11, 1970
    From The Seattle Times, August 15, 1968
    The Remington 666 is very similar to the Brother Activator 899:
    1972 Brother Activator, Courtesy of The Typewriter Database. Strangely enough, I love this color combination, and the way it plays off of the woodgrained panel.

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    Located at 12358 Lake City Way NE, this is one of two dealers that could have sold my Remington 666. The other was Don's Office Machine Service, in West Seattle. (Images courtesy of the Puget Sound Regional Archives)
    Nye's Office Machine Service was operated by Clarence Nye (July 24, 1912-July 27, 1998)
    Don's Office Machines was operated by Donald Husted. Mr. Husted passed away on June 7, 2012, at the age of 82.
     Pioneer Office Equipment is on the right (in the building that says "Desks" in enormous letters.) This store closed in the mid-1960s, but sold many Remington Portables from 1946-c.1964.
     (Image Courtesy of the Puget Sound Regional Archives)
    Don's Office Machines began as Henderson Typewriter, seen in this 1950 photo.  (Image Courtesy of the Puget Sound Regional Archives)

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  • 10/18/13--08:48: Remington 666 After Cleaning

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    Here are some ads for typewriters that are related to the Remington 666

    Trenton, NJ Times, December 18, 1966

    The Portland Oregonian, September 10, 1967
    From the Portland Oregonian, December 14, 1967

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    On April 17, 1973, a sixty-five year old accountant named Herbert Lee walked into the Burt Typewriter Company's
    Burt Typewriter Company, 1204 Second Avenue, on May 9, 1960
    Image Courtesy of the King County Assessor's Archives,
    Puget Sound Regional Archives
    store, located in an aging white terra-cotta building on Second Avenue. He looked past rows of typewriters, before picking out a charcoal gray Smith-Corona Classic 10. (According to Jay Respler, of Advanced Business Machines, it was made in 1971. It must have sat on Burt Typewriter's shelves for two years, as it was sold for the price of a brand-new one.)

    This advertisement for the Smith-Corona Classic 10 appeared on
    Page 16 of The Seattle Times, on October 5, 1972.
    Image courtesy of NewsBank
     He paid $123.20 for it, and was given a receipt. He put the receipt inside of the Changeable Type brochure, folding it very neatly. (The receipt was in the Changeable Type brochure when I bought it. It was folded into quarters.) 
    A photocopy of Herbert Lee's receipt from April 17, 1973
    Author's Collection
    Mr. Lee kept the typewriter in excellent condition, even leaving the original styrofoam packing material inside the lid of the case. He kept all of the paperwork that came with the typewriter. Years passed, and he kept the typewriter in very good condition. He most likely had it cleaned and oiled by a typewriter specialist. 

    Herbert G. Lee's 1971 Smith-Corona Classic 10. Author's Collection
    Mr. Lee made sure to keep all of the paperwork from the purchase of his Smith-Corona Classic 10 with the typewriter. He passed away on October 7, 1995, at the age of 87. Seventeen years passed. The typewriter was then sold to the Seattle Antiques Market, located at 1400 Alaskan Way in December 2012. Shortly after it was sold to the Seattle Antiques Market, I bought it. I saw the familiar black vinyl-covered metal case, and was curious about which model of Smith-Corona was inside. I opened the case, and saw a familiar design, with a very unfamiliar name: "Classic 10." I noticed a strange black plastic accessory that was glued to the ribbon cover. It appeared to be a Kor-ec-type holder, with the name of the dealer who sold it, Burt Typewriter Company. I
    Seattle Antiques Market, Circa 2012
    noticed the original paperwork, under the typewriter, which I considered an added bonus. I bought it that day. Since then, I have put the paperwork in an acid-free envelope, and have made copies of the receipt.

    The typewriter still looks and works like it is brand-new! It prints incredibly well, and works very smoothly. I think that it is my best typewriter ever!

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     This is easily the nicest Olympia typewriter case that I've ever seen!
     And inside, the nicest Olympia typewriter that I've ever seen.
     With a new ribbon and...
    The Cleaning Kit!

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  • 10/24/13--08:12: Adler J-5, 1967

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     The snap-on lid (the bottom of the typewriter forms the bottom of the case.)
     The carriage-return lever folds down for storage, and lifts up for use.

    For more information about the Olympia Traveller deLuxe, go to:

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