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Showing posts from May, 2011


Royal Goes to War

In honor of Memorial Day I wanted to look back into Royal's war-time advertising past.

Royal's wartime advertising is interesting. Shortly after war was declared the company followed the tenor of the nation and ran patriotic advertisements. The first two full-page ads (below) come from early 1942 and are the most overtly patriotic. As time went on, though, Royal knew that it must keep its product line in the mind of a population who couldn't buy them. The war stretched on and the Royal's advertising changed focus from patriotic populism to helpful and informational ads. The remainder of the ads I have posted are these information type. In the middle of the war Royal started pushing their Roytype ribbons and carbons. I am sure that management knew that they could not count on war profits forever. They would need to grow the business in the only way they could until production picked up after the war.

This push for revenue from accessories is not seen from Smith-Corona. …

Dear Typosphere

Of course, you can still find this blog at the old address

A Time-Honored Concern

In a 1916 article from the magazine America, there is a summary of an argument made by Mr. Thomas L. Masson in a paper he wrote for another magazine called Bookman. His idea is that if Milton used a typewriter to write "Lycidas" or "Hymn on the Nativity", these poems would not be as good. Pen and paper, apparently, are the only way for an author to slow down and revise. It's fine to use the typewriter to "conform more closely to our modern standards of orthography" but the use of one for composition is met with the invective, "Perish the thought!"

The author of the column also concludes that the current dearth of quality literature in America is due to the number of authors who use a typewriter for composition. (Start reading from "That fatal...")

The entire idea of this blog is that the typewriter is an excellent way to compose writing. I (and others) actually believe that it is the superior way to compose writing. The computer ma…

Typewriter Bites Man, Circa 1943

I found this in an old Saturday Evening Post. I wonder what the machine the story is referencing? I think it might be a Williams, but I am sure there were a number of machines that used an ink pad. What's more frightening is how modern this experience sounds.

Royal Gravitas

I have been thinking about the Royal Model O that I posted about Sunday evening. I am an unapologetic Royal fan. I have alluded to this before, but it wasn't until the Model O came into the collection that I have really come to an understanding of what makes Royal so special.

Royal, as a company, never set the world on fire with any feature. If the ads that Royal ran in Life are any indication, Magic Margin (after which this blog is named) was their proudest accomplishment. That's a little sad because I have always felt that Royal's margin system was a little over-designed and far from the greatest addition to the world of typewriters. It's more magical if you could figure out how it works. Touch-Control might pop your mind as being something entirely special, but key tension adjustment can be found on many typewriters of the time. It's not the styling that marks them unique. Every industrial designer at Royal must have shopped at the same Brooks Brothers because t…

Model O Gallery

So, the other typewriter that I received this weekend was a beautiful model O. It's in great shape too and even came with the original instruction booklet. (I'll scan it soon.) It works well and has a very small typeface. Enjoy these photos.

New (to me) Royal Portable

Actually, it looks as if it new. Beautiful paint and bright nickel accents makes this machine look very fancy. It's in absolutely pristine condition. This machine came with another Royal portable that I will post later. It also is in great shape.

What's amazing is that there is very little yellowing of the keys. As you can see above, they have stayed uniformly white. Wonderful machine. I think I'll expand this post a little later, but in the meantime I hope you enjoyed the pictures.

The HH in Advertising

If you've read once, you've read a thousand times that I love the Royal Standard HH. Apart from being the most amazing standard desktop machine, it was also the subject of some of Royal's most mid-century advertising. Each one is rife with the subtle sexism of the decade, but it makes them no less enjoyable. So, please enjoy this little gallery.

It'll Be A Blast!

Yesterday my email account had four RSVPs for the Typewriter Round-Up. So far it looks like we are on-track for almost twice as many as the last event!

Summer Typing

As the regular school year winds to a close, the Classroom Typewriter Project winds to a close too. I've started dusting typewriters, taking out ribbons, and packing up the typewriters in their cases. All of this work was going fine until I found out that I was hired for summer school. This means that the machines will get some use in the month of June.

Summer school in our district is credit-recovery, so the class will be filled with Juniors and Seniors who happened to fail the first semester of Junior English. Right now, I have 18 registered and that means we will be nearly 1:1 in terms of typewriters. With this kind of typewriter to student ratio I can start to really construct an idea of how low-performing students can benefit from using a typewriter in class.

There is a type of writing instruction called Writer's Workshop. The idea of this pedagogical approach is to give the students greater freedom in selecting the subjects for their own writing. Academic and creative wr…

Blickcast II: Wherein the Blick is Blasted and Outfitted Anew

Blickcast I: Wherein the Author Hunts & Pecks

When you know where the keys are you can focus on the writing rather than where the letters are.

Isn't that question mark great?

Phoenix's Typewriter Repairman Video

Bill Wahl, a local typewriter celebrity, was featured on a segment on Arizona Highways TV this Sunday evening. Take a look at the video embedded below.

Bierce, The Mexican Desert, and Shiny Olivers

When people think of authors who use typewriters Ambrose Bierce isn't often mentioned. Maybe he's too sarcastic for lists, but looking for information on him I came across this typed letter from 1911:

Maybe someone can tell what type of typewriter he used, but it's clear that Bierce was comfortable using one. He even makes a typo by omitting a word. That makes me feel good. I am sure that by 1911 using using a typewriter to write wasn't that unusual. But not many authors were embedded in Panco Villa's army in Mexico.
Mexico was a land of Olivers. Especially, Olivers that are nickle-plated. Like this typewriter from the poet Ramon Lopez Velarde. (Fun lit fact: Octavio Paz studied Velarde and wrote a great deal about his influence in post-modern mexican poetry.)

Oliver realized that Mexico had been overlooked in the market and sent a man by the name of Parker to change that. Parker was able to introduce the country to the typewriter and the Oliver. At this point in 1911…


Hot 100

Take a look at AZ Teen Magazine's list of the hottest 100 students and teachers and you will find me listed among them (page 28). I posted about this a while ago, but the magazine has just published. You can see the print version by clicking the image of the cover to the left. I will be signing typewriter's in my classroom after school. You know, because I am so famous and everything.

Orignal Work

A Poem for the 2nd Phoenix Type-In

In the Vale of Old Tempe, Typewriters you shall see. Olympia the home to the gods and Hermes, winged sandal shod. (both typewriters) Monti's is where they go at 1.  If the freeway's slow 1:30 will be fine enough. No, parking isn't tough. June 18th is the auspicious day It will be sunny, Hey! I shall see you there lest thou be a human square. Also keep thou in mind Three guests you will find At this event shooting video for a little documentary-o.
Yes, this is the best poem you have ever read. No, it did not take long.