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Showing posts from June, 2012

Selectric Memory

This summer, so far, has been filled with teacher-y stuff. I have been revising the Junior English curriculum to ensure that it aligns properly with the new Common Core nation-wide standards. It has been an onerous task and pretty dry. I can say that Junior English now looks a lot like Junior English of yesteryear. Blessedly, not much has changed. Most of our work was done on the computer and that was a challenge.
I am not used to sitting in front of a computer for extended periods of time. The on-your-feet nature of teaching is much more my style. After hours of staring at a monitor I started to feel tired and my eyes started twitching. How do people in offices cope? Computers...pah!
In my time working in the purely digital realm, I found some time to tap out notes on an IBM Selectric still lurking in the school library. It was a joy to unplug form the digital even if I was still plugged into an outlet.
My interest in them has been piqued. That brings me to the picture above.

Typewriter Day: Reflection

This post comes by way of my Royal QDL, the first machine I ever bought. Here is a picture (the one on the left):


I Thought it was an FP

Herb Caen charmingly called his typewriter the Loyal Royal. It was a running mention in many of his columns. For the longest time I thought the Royal in question was this FP at the San Francisco Public Library:

But in a news article from the San Francisco Appeal (an on-line newspaper) it appears if Herb Caen's typewriter will go up for auction to fund a SF Police summer program. Obviously, a worthy cause but it brings up some serious questions about Caen's typewriter provenance.

This is a picture of Caen; the baldness, the smile. It's him alright, but the typewriter on which he jauntily leans is not an FP. It's an HH. Strange, no? It would be perfectly reasonable for a columnist to have several typewriters and they both my be Royals, but if I was the SF Library or the soon-to-be auction winner, I would love to know which one was more loyal; the FP or the HH.

The Collective Noun Escapes Me

As you can tell from the picture that heads this post, I have come into a fair few IBM Selectric type elements. I echo the title of this post and wonder what collective noun should be applied to such a gathering? Would they be a grip, group, cache, herd, mob, clutch, murder, dole, plump, balding, team, bed, ward, convocation, stalk, leash, skulk, leap, or an exultation? Comment with your ideas.
With this new infusion of stuff I have become more and more interested in the IBM Selectric. Heretofore I have described them as "nice" and "not my thing," but as I spend more time with it I can see why so many people enjoy the company of this particular electric giant.
The hum is hypnotic.
I can remember a red one in the office where my Grandmother worked. I was allowed to use it whenever we visited. I–as many people–remember the sound of the motor gently humming while the element spun and bobbed across the surface of the paper.
I have more ideas beginning to take shape ar…

Typewriter Ephemera

When I think about a typewriter, I think of a permanent device. Typewriters can last for decades. Some have been around for more than a century. It is a device with longevity.
As rich as the experience of using a typewriter can be, the ephemera that belongs to the experience of using a typewriter can add an appreciative level of verisimilitude. Typing on real onionskin is a joy. Using carbon paper is so much fun. Using the original instruction manual makes you smile.  These bits and pieces do not last forever. They are ephemeral.
I find myself collecting these typewriter adjacent pieces almost accidentally. I see something at an antique store and I pick it up. Usually, I don't spend more than a few bucks. Over time it's easy to amass a large collection of this stuff.
Typewriter ribbon tins are popular and I have enjoyed looking for those, but when I came across this on Ebay, I had to bid.

I won it for a paltry $1.99 bid. It's a mending kit sent out as a promotional item. …

Minor Differences

Mike (http://clickthing.blogspot.com/) has a Royal HH too. His differs in two respects. His has an elite typeface (mine is pica) and his also has a paper gauge.
This handy little device lets you know when you have reached the bottom margin of your paper. Bottom margins have been the bane of typists since the dawn of typewriter time. While Mike's HH from 1956 has the gauge, my HH from 1954 does not have this feature.

These are the little things that really interest me. It was some time between 1954 and 1956 that Royal first introduced the end-of-paper gauge to their desktop typewriters. This kind of bleed-over in features can be seen with the FP that Scott painted purple:

The odd bit: a palm tabulator with an FP. Scott's is a little broken, but it still works I'm sure. Maybe it was a custom thing or maybe Royal had a few extra pieces lying around.
The more time you spend around typewriters the more you see these fun little things.

'I’d love to use my typewriter again' Ray Bradbury, 1920-2012

I was saddened to hear of Ray Bradbury's passing. He was 91 and succumbed to a long illness following a stroke in 2002. I was reminded of a small section of a post I wrote about a year ago: My Sophomore classes are reading Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. In the Afterword Bradbury describes how he considers F.451 a dime-novel. It cost him $9.80 in dimes to write at a coin-operated Remington or Underwood. He needed a place to type and the basement of UCLA's library prevented him from wanting to play with his children rather than working on his novel. He indicates that the time constraint really helped him write.
Born in Waukegan, Illinois in 1920 Ray Bradbury moved with his family to Los Angeles, California. He graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1938. He spent his days at home writing and his nights reading in the library. In 1947 a collection of his stories were published in a volume titled Dark Carnival. But it wouldn't be until The Martian Chronicles was publishe…

Ribbon Tin: A Modest Collection

I am working on a small shadowbox project for our home office. This room is also known as the "typewriter room." This is the place where all my private collection typewriters are displayed. The room is comfortable and very usable, but is does need a little decoration. That's where these really nice typewriter ribbon tins come it. Before I was finished with the project I wanted to share some quick photos I snapped.

This Carter's tin is my favorite. I love the star graphics.



The Panama tins are beautiful with the airplane graphic.


Ribbon tins are those fun bits of typewriter ephemera that add some dimension to the hobby. It must have been impressive to see all the varieties of tins stacked up in office supply stores. Now, they are a reminder of the way things used to be.

The Mini Type-In Was Mini

Friday night was the Mini Type-In. Counting myself there was one other typewriter enthusiast.

Bryan, who came to the 3rd Type-In at Lux, was kind enough to indulge my blabbering on and on about typewriters. I brought a mid-50s Smith-Corona Skyriter and Bryan brought a few Japanese-made Litton Royals; a Mercury and a Mustang. His examples are in great shape and it was a joy to have the experience of using them.

With just two typospherians in attendance, the conversation was limited, but the conversation was interesting.

So, was the mini type-in successful? Yes, just a little.

Mini Type-In Tonight!

Don't forget about the mini Type-In tonight. Here's the info:


See you there!