Skip to main content


It was a dollar on eBay.

 Here is a radical/pi:

Shipping was free. Actually, shipping was a Forever stamp. So that's good.

We are all familiar with Smith-Corona's more popular changeable types, but here is Royal's version. It's not a changeable type as much as a changeable type bar. 

They look completely unused.

I don't have a typewriter that can use these, but I thought they were strange enough to hazard the bid. Further investigation led me to one small clue at the bottom of this advertisement from around 1956.

It reads:

Could these be the interchangeable type bars mentioned in the ad?

The logo on the case is the same that Royal used all through the McBee years especially on the Safari. I am guessing they are from the 50s or 60s. The "Select-A-Type" typeface makes me think 1950s.

My mind also started thinking about why you don't see more early electric typewriters around? In all these years I have maybe seen 5 Royal electrics from the 50s and only one of the colored versions. (I kick myself for not spending the $30 on it.) Where have all the electrics gone?

If anyone has some ideas as to what machine could use these interchangeable type bars, I would be interested in hearing from you. 


  1. I never knew Royal had any changeable type. Then there is quite a bit I do not know about typewriters.

    I guess like electronics (word processors and computers) the electrics cannot be maintained after a time due to the parts becoming obsolete and belts, gears and other things not being available.

    Electrics are probably more difficult to repair or restore by other than a typewriter repair person.

  2. That is a very interesting find, I have an old Royal Empress electric in my collection and whilst I was aware of the SCM inter-changeable type this is a new one on me.
    Also that is a very good question about the old electrics. Much harder to collect because of the horrendous shipping costs and as you say the non-availability of parts. I did see a Woodstock Electrite on Ebay some time ago but I passed on it due to those costs, but I see this category as the next mine to mined , so to speak.

  3. Wow, interesting. I have never run across these typebars or (to my knowledge) a Royal that could use them.

  4. Interesting..

    Yeah, the older electrics seem scarce. what I see and pass up these days are plastic-bodied electric typebar machines (usually Sears, SCM or Royal), Brother Correct-O-Balls (have passed up 2 of those this past month) and of course, daisywheel wedges. The only standard electric I've seen other than Selectrics was an Underwood Forum. very ugly, angular thing - looked like "Box" from "Logan's Run".

    1. Ah yes, Ted, this what what I'd seen (though not in the flesh) mentioned elsewhere before.

  5. I'd hazard a guess that custom type bars might go under the radar, if sold online at least. Would a seller even know to mention them. Probably not. Sensible solution: buy 'every one you see.

  6. Interesting! I had to take a good luck at the first two pictures to see what it is. Third one shows perfectly. :-)

  7. Ryan, the mystery is solved, but I want you to have first crack at the machine and I want to blog it, later. Cryptic? Sure, just email me at to get pointed at the mystery machines.

  8. I have a Royal Custom III (a made-in-Portugal late-model version of the Safari) that says "Select-A-Type" underneath the typing point. I've also seen a Royal Custom Ultronic portable electric that says "Select-A-Type" there, too. I looked at my Custom III and it's not immediately obvious to me how such a type bar would be installed. Did any instructions come with the set you got?


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

How To: Cleaning Wrinkle Paint

You either love wrinkle paint or you put up with it hoping that a machine in shiny black comes your way. I happen to love the finish. It's very rugged, hides a myriad of metalwork sins, and can come in some very sober and serious colors. As great as I think this paint is, it is a magnet for dirt, grime, and crud. Dirt invariably make its way into the wrinkles and makes your typewriter look tired and grungy. However, the innate ruggedness of the paint makes it easy to clean. This is the process I use. Your mileage may vary. 
To start with you need some simple supplies. A couple of soft cloths, a small Tupperware container, a household laundry detergent without dyes or perfume, an old toothbrush, a utility spray bottle, and a blue Olympia SM3 (or whatever you happen to have). As with the other How-To, I recommend you dust/wet-dust your typewriter first. It takes a minute and "Water is the best solvent."

This process assumes that your typewriter is clean on the inside. There …

Pinhole MG Filter Adapter

A few months ago a friend gave me an old set of Ilford multigrade filters he used in college. He thought I would get some use out of them in my home darkroom. It's nice to have this set. They are good for a couple of really cool contrast techniques in darkroom printing on multigrade paper. It can really save your bacon with a difficult print.

I wanted to also use these filters with my pinhole camera and multigrade paper. The contrast with the paper negatives can be a little extreme and these filters can tame contrast. However, my filters can't easily be taped to the front of the camera. I had to devise a method to hold them.

The 3 inch filters are designed to go under the lens on a darkroom enlarger. Each filter is mounted in a plastic holder that slides into a corresponding mount attached to the enlarger. I pulled out my calipers, did a little measuaring, and crafted a design in Tinkercad. A hours later and I had this design:

I decided to print it in two pieces on my Monopric…

The Most Beautiful Typewriter

When the Olympia arrived in the mail, I immediately wanted one for myself. I began the process of looking for a light blue SM3. Surprisingly, I was able to to find one here in Phoenix in an identical color. It really is a very attractive typewriter. I thought this was, perhaps one of the most beautiful typewriters in the world. The color is blue like a summer sky. The chrome shines even on the grayest of days. The gentle lines are at once playful and very serious. It is a joy to look at.

But as lovely as the Olympia is, there's only one typewriter that I think truly deserves the moniker of "The Most Beautiful Typewriter" and that is the Olivetti Studio 42 designed in 1935. I know many will disagree with me. I would love to hear the disagreements.

I  do not have an Olivetti Studio 42, but I dream of owning one. If I found this machine (in good condition) I would stop collecting. It's that special.

To assist in proving that the Olivetti Studio 42 is "The Most Beaut…