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Chip, Rona, and a Good Companion

I have a story to tell about Communists, New Zealand, and a clandestine typewriter. While I might be stepping on toes here, I think that the ever-gracious Mr. Messenger will allow me to dabble in some southern-hemisphere typewriter antics.
The distance of Australia and New Zealand from traditional markets made shipping a vital part of their economic growth. It’s no surprise, then that the New Zealand waterfront became the locus of working-condition conflict. During WWII, labor shortages required that dock workers take on longer shifts; upwards of 15 hours a day. Anger at the situation was brought before the Arbitration Court of New Zealand and workers who were involved in the arbitration system were awarded a 15% wage increase. This did not apply to dock workers because their employment was controlled by a different governmental organization. Instead dock workers were awarded a 9% wage increase and among the rank-and-file this was seen as a slight for the vital service they offered t…

Happy Holidays

Brother Valiant

I put in a low bid thinking that if I did win this typewriter and it turned out to be trash, at least I would have some parts for other Brothers and I would be helping out a good cause.
I was shocked when I won with my $9 bid. I was even more shocked when it was delivered.


There is nothing to dislike about this Brother.



It's in fantastic shape.



And it even has an instruction booklet with a very interesting cover.


The previous owner must have gone to Hobart because...well...

It types beautifully. So, for a lark it turned out very well. I needn;t go into great length about Brother, because our faithful typewriter reporter, Robert Messenger, has gone in-depth just for you. Click on the Brother.




57% Typewriters

In addition to my duties teaching English, I am also the Newspaper and Yearbook adviser. It is my job to make sure that the budding journalists of Alhambra work hard and get the news out. We have just finished with our second edition (No. 2) of the school newspaper, the Scimitar. 


Getting a school newspaper out is not easy. Keeping teens focused on what is newsworthy and what is just junk takes some deftness. Also, our news cycle is a month long. That makes some of our stories a little old by press time, but the experience of working on a paper newspaper is one that they won't have anywhere else. Last year's editor is now at the Cronkite School at Arizona State University working on her journalism degree.
As proud as I am of my students for putting together such a great edition, I am also proud to say that over 1/2 of the stories in this newspaper began as drafts written on a typewriter. They have been edited and edited again digitally, but they began as typewritten stories. …

Silencing Chatty Selectrics: Operation GUNMAN

On March 25, 1985 Dan Rather reported that the Soviet Union had successfully penetrated the United States Embassy in Moscow. The Soviets had placed bugs inside IBM Selectric IIs located in sensitive areas. These bugs were able to easily read what was being typed on these typewriters. Until this incident occurred, US Security agencies believed that the ISSR had only been bugging audio, but the typewriter bugs were the first plain-text threat they ever encountered. Moreover, the bug itself was uniquely created to take advantage of the electro-mechanical nature of the IBM Selectric II. All-told 16 bugs were found hidden inside IBM Selectrics (both IIs and IIIs) and the story of their discovery and operation is a fascinating part of typewriter lore.
The relationship between the United States and Soviet Union during the late 70s and 80s was strained and both sides were actively using covert methods to infiltrate each other’s embassies. While the extent of the United States’ eavesdropping …

Positive Spur: Henry James, Theodora Bosanquet, and a Remington Typewriter

Having seen its heyday, the torch of the typewriter is only carried by a few true believers. We see these Promethians lighting pockets of darkness all over the world. The impetus is drawn from a vast mythology of typewriters; Mark Twain with his love/hate relationship to the Sholes & Glidden, Ernest Hemingway standing at a bookshelf in Cuba, Cormac McCarthy's $50 beat-up Lettera from a pawn shop in Texas. Stories are ambrosia that feed our love of these wonderful iron companions, but there is one great story of a man and a woman and a typewriter that shows how a simple machine intended to complete a task can become integral to a life.
Henry James is known for his meandering prose. Jamesian sentences can stretch on for lines. It's his style, and he is a master. What Hemingway did for the terse, short sentence, James did for long, complex syntax. I thought this was a by-product of writing during the Gilded Age, but James was a realist author. He wasn't a victim of Roma…

Wall Post

When we moved to our new home about a year ago, Mrs. Magic Margin was very generous in allowing me space to display my personal typewriter collection. Everything about the "typewriter room" has been a work in progress. The biggest problem for any collector is storage space. To display a typewriter is a large investment in shelf real-estate. 
I've mentioned my love of the Expedit shelf from the mega furniture retailer, IKEA. Each cube is 12" square so any typewriter you display needs to be smaller than that. I have been able to display a large collection using this storage system, but there are machines that I don't use (because they need to be repaired or restored. I don't want to get rid of them, but I would like to have them out and appreciated. So, this was the solution:

I know that there are some in the Typosphere that might be a little hesitant to hang some typewriters on the wall, but I like it. 

Each machine is custom-hung and the mount is attached t…

19 Typewriters

Through my many (three) years of scientific (barely) study of youths and typewriters I have arrived at an optimum number of typewriters for use in an opt-in classroom. 19. Also, the shelves I have hold 19 nicely with room for journal forms. The number is arrived at by a combination of prudence and actual use. So, here are the 19.

With bad photography and all, here are the 19:




















What about all the other typewriters? Well, I keep them in-reserve should anything happen to the ones I have out in rotation. With as much use as these typewriters get, I have been able to come to some conclusions about certain brands and their ruggedness. 
As you can see, there are few Smith-Corona typewriters. They seem to just wilt under pressure. The typebar linkages are openable so those typewriters tend to fail in that one area. All the Smith-Corona Galaxie-like machines currently have a problem with their linkages as a result of this tendency and awa…

Labor of a Mind

I asked a few of the typing regulars to respond to a question about typewriters. "Do you think that using old technology (like a typewriter) could help young people be more aware of the world?"
As soon as I asked the question, I thought of a thousand ways to better phrase what I was asking, but Vanessa (all of 17 years old) decided to go with her first instinct. 

The thing that makes me furious is that I didn't come up with "...hearing the labor of your mind and fingers ring out in the air..."

Very Nearly Perfekt

Sunday I had the opportunity to visit a few antique stores while Toddler Magic Margin was taking a nap. I usually don't find much and what I do find is rather expensive or junky. Such was the case Sunday when I saw the regular assembly of Underwoods, Smith-Coronae, and Royals. Everything was really beat-up and invariable in the $70 price-range. 
This antique store is more of a mall (why they would purposely call an antique store a mall is beyond me) where individuals can rent stalls. Most of what you find in just junk; junk with a patina. In Ohio or Pennsylvaia it would only be worthy of dusty junk shops, but here they are antiques worthy of the Hermitage. 
I was browsing through getting ready to leave when I thought to go into one of these little stalls. There wasn't much, but my eye did catch a little fawn colored typewriter poking out from a shelf. 
It was this Triumph Perfekt 


and it was 

The price was high, but in the years I have been hunting down machines I have yet to…

Sneak Peak and an Odd Translation

I have much more about this typewriter, but in the meantime please enjoy the fractured translation. To get the full effect, click on the cover and be taken to a PDF.





Typogram 2

October 5th? I cannot believe that more than a month has past since this Typogram 2 was written. I am a terribly negligent Tyopgrammer. To my eternal shame Dwayne sent me several letters and I have yet to respond. Anyway, please enjoy...



Handy Little Thing

The carriage for my HH was feeling a little sluggish so I called Bill at MTE to see if he could help me do some on-the-fly diagnosis. The problem is that the carriage grabs and feels heavy in the same place. Letters pile up and some spacing between letters can be dodgy.

I was able to walk through a few diagnistic things when Bill said, "You can take the tension by removing the drawband."

That was a good idea, but I only had two hands to do this and there is a good chance I would have lost control of the the drawband causing damage to my fingers and havoc to my typewriter.

Royal's engineers thought of that and provided a handy screw for temorarily affixing the drawband to the body.


I could see that this feature might also be helpful if you were trying to fit a new drawband.

My KMG, FP, and HH all have this little knobly screw. I would have to check the other Royal desktops when I get home, but this was new to me and I could see it being a handy little thing.

Typewriters for Good: David Abraham and the Perkins

UPDATE: I seem to have forgotten a section I typed about the Foundation Writer. You will find more about this Brailler below.

Robert's fantastic post about the Hall typewriter really inspired this post. The question I had was simple; are there any tactile typewriters on this campus? My first phone call was to Aileen, the Vision Specialist department chair. She said there are two students who use Braillers in-class and several other machines stationed around campus.
This morning I took a few minutes to stop by and see these interesting type-writers. Eve, one of the teachers who instructs students on their Braining, gave me a brief tutorial on how the machine works and some of the features it has.
In the short time I was working with these machines I realized how similar and how different they are to regular sighted typewriters. Simultaneously they are familiar and foreign.
Before I talk more about their operation I should talk about the brand of Brailler Alhambra students use. …