Channel: Royal Typewriters
Mark channel Not-Safe-For-Work? cancel confirm NSFW Votes: (0 votes)
Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel.

Olympia SM-9 (Wide), 1973


This is easily the best typewriter that I have ever used! (and for once, Consumer Reports agrees!--Usually my favorite typewriters were hated by Consumer Reports, especially the Royal Royalite, Smith-Corona Skyriter, Sears Tutor...) It is the easiest typewriter to use, and produces the neatest work I have ever seen from a typewriter. (The typeface is almost exactly Courier--Olympia called it "Copy Pica"--it looks just like this font.

Royal Mercury Advertising, 1968

These advertisements were provided to me by Darryl Bridson, who is the Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Royal Consumer Information Products (Formerly Royal Typewriter Company)

Smith-Corona Silent-Super, 1957

I found this typewriter at my local Value Village after selling a 1946 Smith-Corona Sterling.  Although I only paid $12 for it, it came with all of its accessories, including its instruction manual, a brush, a new ribbon in its box, a touch typing card, and a "Holiday Case." It is painted in Seafoam (really celery) green. The previous owner wrote 11-23-57 on the manual--I assume that this is the date that it was sold. 
From the Seattle Times, September 15, 1957

Olympia Typewriter Dealers, 1972

Acme Office Machines
1826 N. 45th Street
Seattle, WA

Burt Typewriter     (Closed 1975)
1204 2nd Avenue
Seattle, WA

Mako's Typewriter
5435 Ballard Avenue NW
Seattle, WA

Seattle Typewriter
Arcade Building
Seattle, WA

TI-FA Typewriter
1811 E Olive Way
Seattle, WA

Cole-Steel is from 1960

Apparently, a Cole-Steel with the serial number 3-149323 was sold on March 21, 1960. My Cole-Steel has a serial number of 3-143335. Because the Cole-Steel was popular in Germany, and relatively popular in the United States, I think it is a reasonable assumption that my Cole-Steel was sold in 1960. Because it is a later model, it could have been sold by Burt Typewriter, at 1204 Second Avenue (demolished in the 1980s for the Washington Mutual Tower). 

This ad appeared in The Seattle Times, on December 16, 1959.

1959 Smith-Corona Skyriter--before and after

Here is what my 1959 Skyriter looks like now:

This is what it looked like before I repainted it:

I chose to make this typewriter two-tone, in order to preserve all of the original logos. However, I made the spacebar match the body.

Happy Fourth of July

G.W. Boyce

This building is the source of my 1949 Smith-Corona Silent, at 601 Santa Fe Avenue. I think it was resold there, because there was a touch typing card from another dealer, in a residential area, with a smaller phone number:

1949 Smith-Corona Silent

This typewriter was originally sold by Walton Typewriter, 505 Broadway, in Pueblo, Colorado. It came with a touch-typing card advertising Walton Typewriter. This was most likely the dealer who sold it when it was brand-new. (There is a dealer label for G.W. Boyce, 601 N. Santa Fe Avenue, in Pueblo, located under the carriage, but its phone number does not match their number in the 1949 Pueblo. CO telephone directory; the number for Walton Typewriter matches that in the 1949 telephone directory.) 

I bought this typewriter in December, 2011 from Old Glory Antiques, in Vancouver, Washington. It amazes me how far this typewriter traveled in the last 63 years. (partly because the case only has a few minor scuffs) This is easily my favorite typewriter. Unlike my Silent-Super, the tab stops on this typewriter are set manually; the back panel gets moved backward, and the tab stops get taken off of the rack, and put in different places.

It is pretty quiet, but not completely Silent. Consumer Reports loved full-sized Smith-Corona portable typewriters well into the 1960s (they really hated most compact typewriters). Generally, I disagree with most of what Consumer Reports had to say about compact typewriters--in my personal experience, the Royal Royalite (one of the typewriters they hated the most) is much more durable than they gave it credit for. As Consumer Reports stated in their 1960 typewriter review: "Estimated durability, fair" However, most of the bad reviews Consumer Reports gave typewriters were based on convenience of use for long periods of time.  This is not to say that I look for typewriters that Consumer Reports hated: I own eight typewriters that were either  "Best Buys" or rated "Excellent" in their respective years:

  • 1937: Royal Model 'O' Standard (My Model O is from 1934)
  • 1941: Remington Remette (a Best Buy because of the number of features for its price)
  • 1957: Olympia SM-3 (Very Good; only the Smith-Corona Electric Portable was "Excellent")
  • 1957: Smith-Corona Silent-Super (Very Good; only the Smith-Corona Electric Portable was "Excellent")
  • 1960: Olympia SM-4
  • 1966: Smith-Corona Classic 12 (rated Excellent; 1960 was the last year for "best buy" in typewriters)
  • 1972: Olympia SM-9 with 13 inch carriage
  • 1972: Royal Custom III (I have a 1968 Custom II which is identical except for the front panel)
This generation of Smith-Corona portables were rated "excellent" in the 1950s. It probably would have been  a "Best Buy" if Smith-Corona hadn't launched its Electric Portable the same year.
While I disagree with many of Consumer Reports' findings on compact portable typewriters, they have an excellent track record of picking typewriters that I am incredibly fond of as their "Best Buys" I have ten typewriters that were rated "Fair" or "Poor" (I actually agree with one of their choices)

  • 1946: Remington Deluxe Model 5 (they liked this in 1935, and rated it as "good" in 1941.)
  • 1957: Royal Quiet Deluxe (they loved it in 1941, 1946, and 1948--these are mechanically identical to the 1957 model) 
  • 1957: Olivetti Lettera 22 (This was rated "Good" in 1960--the only change was the addition of the "Underwood" name)
  • 1957,1960: Smith-Corona Skyriter
  • 1957, 1960: Royal Royalite
  • 1960: Consul Deluxe Portable
  • 1960: Cole-Steel
  • 1966: Royal Skylark (this is a terrible machine!)
  • 1966: Smith-Corona Corsair/Sears Tutor
  • 1966: Olivetti Lettera 32 (marked as "Fair to Good"

1929 Remington Model 3

I bought this typewriter over the weekend in Sedro-Wooley, Washington. It was manufactured in March, 1929. This typewriter, called the Remington Model 3, was introduced in 1928, and discontinued in 1938. It came in several attractive color schemes; this one is "Colette and Endowa" Blue.
While this typewriter looks green from some angles, it is actually two-tone blue.
A Nyanza and Cellini Green Remington is seen below.
Below are ads provided to me by Richard Polt. His site devoted to prewar Remington portables can be found here: http://site.xavier.edu/polt/typewriters/rem-portables.htm

Remington Case Brochure

This brochure is from Richard Polt. My Remington's case is in this style (custom from the Remington factory)  complete with stripes and storage compartments. It has the same lining as the case on the left of the first page.

Remington Portable Ads, 1929

Olympia SM-9, 1978

Remington 3 Instructions

This instruction flyer is courtesy of the Cornelia and Peter Weil Typewriter Archive.

Typewriter Dealers, Seattle, 1929

(In alphabetical order)
American Writing Machine Co.
908 Second Avenue

Chase Typewriter Co.
Lyon Building

Corona Typewriter Agency
202 Yesler

Hall, E.W. Co.
911 Second Avenue
(Demolished 1970 for Federal Office Building)

A.J. Houle Typewriter Co.
722 Madison

Lowman & Hanford Co.
1514 3rd Avenue
912 2nd

National Typewriter Exchange
61 Marion Street Viaduct

Northwest Typewriter Co.
916 3rd 

Oliver Typewriter Agency
716 3rd Avenue

Original Copywriter Co
Liggett Building

Reliable Typewriter Co.
Dexter Horton Building

Remington Typewriter Co.
612 2nd Avenue

Seattle Typewriter Repair Co.
Arcade Building

1966 Smith-Corona Corsair and 1966 Sears Tutor

Here are the lids that the Sears Tutor and Smith-Corona Corsair are carried in.

Smith-Corona Corsair and Sears Tutor. Notice the angular ribbon cover on the Tutor.

Sears Tutor, 1966

Smith-Corona Corsair
For more information on these designs, go to Robert Messenger's excellent blog:

Smith-Corona Portable Dealers in Seattle, 1966
List is reprinted from the 1966 Pacific Northwest Bell Telephone Directory for Seattle
  • American Office Equipment, 900 4th Avenue 
  • Brown Typewriter, 5511 24th Avenue NW
  • Burt Typewriter, 1204 2nd Avenue
  • College Typewriter Shop, 22307 Marine View Drive, Des Moines
  • Foster Office Equipment, 144 SW 152nd Street, Burien
  • J.K. Gill's Lowman & Hanford, 4549 University Way NE
  • E.W. Hall, 2015 3rd Avenue
  • JAFCO, 520 Westlake Avenue North
  • North End Business Machines, 6603 Roosevelt Way NE
  • Nye's Office Machines, 12328 1/2 Bothell Way NE (Now Lake City Way NE)
  • Pettinger Typewriter, 105 Cherry Street
  • Typewriter Clinic, 2014 3rd Avenue
  • University Book Store, 4326 University Way NE
  • Washington Book Store, 4316 University Way NE
  • Washington Typewriter Co., 1014 2nd Avenue

Pettinger Typewriter, 1960s

The building next to Totem Pole Loans was home to Pettinger Typewriter in the 1960s. Thankfully most of these buildings have been restored.

The gray building in the photo above was replaced with a parking garage in the 1960s. The grimy brick building is the Pioneer Building. It has since been cleaned.

More neighborhood context. The Pioneer Building and the Howard Building are seen above. 

A close-up of the building with Pettinger Typewriter. This building, the Lowman Building, has since been restored.
Photos courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives.

Olivetti Age Confusion

The old typewriter database, www.tw-db.com indicated that my Olivetti Lettera 22 was made in 1954. However, the current typewriter database, www.typewriterdatabase.com  which is cross-referenced with many different National Office Machine Dealers Association (NOMDA) serial number guides, indicates that my Olivetti was, in fact, made in 1957. This means that The Typewriter Clinic was not the dealer that most likely sold my Olivetti.--The dealer listed in the 1957 Seattle Telephone Directory is the Printing Calculator Company, which was located at 923 Western Avenue. In 1956, this was the location of Olivetti's offices. I believe that the Printing Calculator Company was tied in to Olivetti, because at that time, Olivetti's most-advertised products were from their adding machine line. However, this is not to say that The Typewriter Clinic could not have sold my Olivetti--they still sold Olivettis in the early 1960s. By 1958, they specialized in Adler typewriters. However, there are some duplicates on the Typewriter Database:
up to 904000195013,24
ALTERNATE and possibly erroneous data for 1954-1956 from OMEF between these lines
up to 6262321954Obviously, new serial numbers6,29,30
ALTERNATE and possibly erroneous data for 1954-1956 from OMEF between these lines

This means that my Olivetti could have been made in 1950, 1954, or 1957. After seeing type samples of a 1957 Olivetti, I think that my Olivetti may be from 1950. If this is the case, it is a remarkably early Lettera 22. It matches one at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art perfectly. MoMA says that their Lettera 22 was made in 1950. http://www.moma.org/collection/object.php?object_id=2967. I will post their Lettera 22's serial number when I am able.
Olivetti Corporation of America was established in New York City in 1950.

Consumer Reports' vs. the Olivetti Lettera 22

Olivetti Lettera 22

Tower Chieftain

I was reading reviews of various portable typewriters in Consumer Reports, when I noticed a discrepancy between the reviews of the Olivetti Lettera 22 and the nearly identical Sears Tower Chieftain. In 1957, Consumer Reports rated the Olivetti Lettera 22 as "Fair". (All compact portables that were available in 1957 were rated "Fair.") However, they much prefered the identical Sears Tower Chieftain. They stated
"None of the very small portables rated better than Fair in overall quality. One of the best of them was also the lowest-priced of the group, the Sears Tower Chieftain, $59.50 plus shipping."
The only difference between the Chieftain and the Lettera is the fact that the Lettera has a tabulator. In 1960, after Olivetti purchased Underwood, Consumer Reports suddenly liked the Lettera 22; they rated it as "Good"--it rated highest among lightweight typewriters. The only difference between the 1957 Olivetti Lettera 22 and the 1960 Lettera 22 is the addition of the Underwood name before the word "Olivetti" Other than the new name, the only other difference is the color; the 1957 is khaki, and the 1960 model is blue. By 1966, the Lettera 22 had been replaced by the Lettera 32. This typewriter was rated as "Good" The Lettera 32 was technically the "Olivetti-Underwood Lettera 32" in the United States. Before the Underwood/Olivetti merger, Consumer Reports did not like most Underwood portable typewriters--in 1957, the highest rating received by an Underwood was "Good." In 1948, Underwood Portables were considered "Fair." In 1946, Underwood's portable was rated "Not Acceptable." However, in 1941, the cheapest Underwood, the Leader, was rated a "Best Buy," but only when priced at $29.75 (Montgomery Ward's sold the Leader for $10 less than the list price of $39.75). In 1937, which was the year of Consumer Reports' first Portable Typewriter test, Underwood portables were rated as "Also Acceptable" (fairly high up in this category). Despite the ratings given to Olivetti portables, many writers love the Lettera series of portable typewriter. Recently, Cormac McCarthy's Lettera 32 sold at auction for $254,000. He used it from 1963 until 2009, when he replaced it with a different Lettera 32. The only maintenance McCarthy's typewriter received was the occaisonal cleaning with a gas station air hose. Source http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/04/cormac-mccarthys-typewriter-brings-254500-at-auction/

Klein-Continental W-34, 1933

This is easily among my top three favorite portable typewriters.

 This typewriter was made in Chemnitz, Germany in the early 1930s. Chemnitz is located in Saxony, which is in Eastern Germany. After World War Two, the Communist East German government took over the Wanderer-Werke factory. As a result of material shortages, later Continental portables lack the incredibly high quality of this model.

The owner of this typewriter brought it over from Germany in the 1930s. This label probably said Western Institute for Accounting. SEATTLE It now says --tern In---tute--f--SEAT--- (dashes indicate missing letters)

A former owner's name? This name was painted over in a similar color to the case lining. However, since the lettering was raised, I was able to photograph it to the point that it is nearly legible. The slot above it is for a type-cleaning brush.