11 1/2 Minutes of Fame

Filed under: AV Club, Machines of Loving Grace, typewriters — olivander May 1, 2011 @ 10:01 am

This past week, I was featured in the local PBS series “Off 90“, which showcases various human-interest stories from along southern Minnesota’s I-90 corridor. The segment was filmed last summer but due to uninteresting reasons the airing was delayed until now. The episode has now been posted to YouTube, so anyone who is masochistic enough to do so may watch me awkwardly babble on about typewriters.

My segment begins at about the 10:35 mark, following the Frozen River Film Festival (which is worth a watch itself).

Not all girlie-girl typers are pink

Filed under: Finds, Machines of Loving Grace, typewriters — olivander January 18, 2010 @ 1:44 pm

Under normal circumstances, if I were to come across a late-model Royal Royalite in the thrift store, I would probably pass it by–especially an off-white one beginning to yellow with age. The Holland-made Royals  with the “squashed Futura” look just don’t do much for me.

But an off-white Royalite slathered in flower decals…?

Now that’s irresistible tackiness! $5 was worth just the opportunity to photograph it.

If you were to guess that this typewriter was probably owned by a 16-year-old girl, you’d be right. The proof is that her class schedule, including Driver’s Ed, was written on a sheet of notebook paper inside the case. Take note, Pottery Barn set designers!

Also down in the bottom of the case were three Gold Bond Stamps. Those of us of A Certain Age remember trading stamps. Your mom would get a certain number whenever they bought groceries. At home, the stamps (most often the green S&H variety) would go into a little booklet, and after so many booklets were filled up, they could be redeemed for Valuable Prizes. I remember my mom once got a set of “unbreakable” dishes with trading stamps. (“Unbreakable” is a loose term in the presence of an 8-year-old.) I think that one could even get a Maytag washer by redeeming a ridiculous number of stamp books.

It makes one wonder: were typewriters ever offered as trading stamp prizes? Could that be how our mystery teenager’s mom bought her typewriter?

I’m leaning toward naming her Lizzie, after Elizabeth of York, whose marriage to Henry Tudor (aka Henry VII) effectively ended the Wars of the Roses by bringing together the houses of Lancaster (whose badge was the red rose) and York (the white rose). Henry subsequently adopted a white-on-red rose as his own badge. Known today as the Tudor Rose, it is still used as the heraldic emblem of the UK. It seems doubly fitting for the name, then, that our Royalite should be white with red roses.

Now if only it had script typeface.

Damn the Torpedo

Filed under: Machines of Loving Grace, typewriters — olivander May 29, 2009 @ 9:20 am

Oh, the perils of eBay. Not long ago, I fell to the tempation of a rather scarce specimen, a Deutsche Remington. (A little background: the Deutsche Remington is really a Torpedo. Remington partially owned Torpedo Buromaschinenwerke, and so in the European market some Torpedos were marketed as the Deutsche Remington. Remington had a habit of slapping different names on the same machine, possibly to obscure the actual numbers being manufactured. So far as I’m aware, this particular machine is one of the only ones to have turned up in the United States.)

We’ve all heard the tragedies of typewriters being destroyed in the mail. I’ve received postally-damaged typers myself a few times, though nothing too severe. I’ve even had a couple of what I call “miracle typewriters” that somehow arrived in perfect condition despite shockingly irresponsible packaging. Well, this one takes the cake. And oh, yeah, I got burned big-time.

Here is what the machine looked like before the seller shipped it:

(You like the barrel full of crushed Diet Rite cans? Classy, huh?)

And here’s what it looked like when I got it:

It was crammed into an undersized box, upside down, with no packing material. The seller obviously didn’t give a damn whether it arrived undamaged. It arrived with the right end of the carriage sticking out of a hole in the box. In one way, the typer being wedged in so tightly was a blessing because it likely saved the carriage from being ripped from the chassis. The aluminum front frame, however, is mangled. The space bar has been pushed in and shoved to the side. The shift key levers, which rest in guides attached to the frame, are bent.

I can probably reshape the frame into a semblance of its original self, and repair the mechanical damage, but it will never be the same. I’m afraid this may end up being a display-only typer.

That’s the way it is with eBay. Yous takes you chances.

Update: I’ve done the best I can with it for the time being and spiffed it up a bit. A brief writeup is now available on Machines of Loving Grace.

Further update: more prying, bending, degunking, and futzing with it after the Spawn Process went to bed last night resulted in making it mostly functional. The spacebar still doesn’t work quite right–it needs a hard whack to register, and only if it’s on the left side–the right shift key tends to stick in the down position, and the feed roller has an incapacitating flat. I’ve pulled out the platen and feed roller and am going to attempt a DIY recovering using automotive hoses before resorting to professional rerubbering.

Ten years of typewriters

Filed under: Machines of Loving Grace, typewriters — olivander April 24, 2009 @ 10:00 pm

As regular Machines of Loving Grace visitors might have noticed from the sidebar, 2009 is its tenth year on the ‘Web. I thought it would be fun* to hop into the Wayback Machine and visit the site as it originally looked when it first hit the Internet back in 1999. One page, twelve typewriters, zero graphics.

Also brand spanky new for 2009, Machines of Loving Grace finally has its own domain name! Now instead of navigating to that awkward sevenels.net subdirectory, you can point your browser directly to http://machinesoflovinggrace.com. Be sure to update your del.icio.us!

Two new pages recently up: All About the Remie Scout, the most comprehensive coverage anywhere of Remington’s cute little Depression-era portables family, and an expansive table of hard-to-find Remington serial number and production info courtesy of the Hagley Museum and Library.

Finally, visit the new MoLG forum! It’s just like the old MoLG Yahoo group, only much, much better. It’s not just about typewriters anymore; it’s for fans of all sorts of retrotech.

* I thought it would be fun, but the quest ended up entailing unearthing boxes of poorly-labeled floppy disks, finding and reconnecting the Mac’s Superdrive, and determining which of the many different copies of the page was the true original.

Machines of Loving Grace updates

Filed under: Machines of Loving Grace, typewriters — olivander March 10, 2009 @ 8:09 pm

I’ve made a slew of small updates to Machines of Loving Grace over the past few days. The old Errata page that had lingered since the previous facelift has been folded into the Resources page and replaced with a Contact page. The Resources page itself has been fully updated and restructured to be a little more helpful. A new “Typewriters as Inspiration” link has been added under Special Galleries; it ties into a typewriter-themed album in my photo gallery. I wanted a place to include my more “artsy” typewriter photos, which are much different than the documentary photos throughout the rest of MoLG.

EDIT: I just now dumped my Smith-Corona serial number prefix quick-reference list into HTML and made a page for it.

Lastly, I’ve added or updated photos for several machines. Either the existing photos were too crappy, or a typewriter never got added at all because it needed to be cleaned or I just plain forgot.

Here’s the new stuff:

Remington Portable #1

Remington Portable #1



Monarch Pioneer

Monarch Pioneer


Royal #10 with 14″ carriage

Royal HH

Royal HH

Royal Empress

Royal Empress

Underwood De Luxe Quiet Tab

Underwood De Luxe Quiet Tab

Penncrest Caravelle 10

Penncrest Caravelle 10

Tower Chieftain

Tower Chieftain

Adler J4

Adler J4

Caligraph No.2

Caligraph No.2

Caligraph No.4

Caligraph No.4


Filed under: Machines of Loving Grace, typewriters — olivander October 1, 2008 @ 1:50 pm

Machines of Loving Grace has been relaunched, with a whole new look, new photos and new content! My lack of HTML skillz still shows, and there are some gaps which I hope to fill soon, but I couldn’t keep the new site to myself any longer.


Filed under: Machines of Loving Grace — Oliver March 11, 2005 @ 5:10 pm

Just a note to say that I added a vintage typewriter ephemera section to Machines of Loving Grace. Lots of old typewriter-related postcards and print ads.

Not much to say

Filed under: Errata, Machines of Loving Grace — Oliver March 7, 2005 @ 4:52 pm

–After a way-too-expensive weekend in the Cities* I sat down and did some much-needed updates to Machines of Loving Grace. Most of the changes are subtle design improvements. I added a few typewriters I’ve recently aquired, redid the thumbnails, made the font size consistent throughout, re-ordered the machines into chronological order, and placed each page’s entries in a table to make the spacing more consistent. At some point I’d like to replace the old scanned photographs with digital camera pictures. The digicam pics seem much sharper and brighter. But that’s for another weekend.

–McDonald’s has shamrock shakes! I shouldn’t. They’re so unhealthy. I really shouldn’t. I’m trying to lose weight as it is. But…but…but…

–Found a great book called Shadows Over Baker Street. It’s an anthology of stories about Sherlock Holmes confronting Lovecraftian horrors. Neil Gaiman & Barbara Hambly are among the contributors. I can’t wait to read it.

–I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that I hatehatehate driving in Minneapolis.

*I really must have the folks at Uncle Hugo’s/Uncle Edgar’s cut me off after a certain point. Like maybe when the first basket gets full.