Mischief always starts with the thrift store

Filed under: Books, Diversions, ephemera — olivander September 4, 2009 @ 9:51 am

Some time back, I found a box of library checkout cards at the thrift store. No sleeves, just the cards. Despite having no idea how I could possibly use them, I bought the box, because you just don’t leave behind something that neat. It went on a shelf upstairs and was largely forgotten.

Then not too far back, Monda posted about her love of old bookplates, a nearly extinct item both in use and the art thereof. And then it hit me.

A long time back, a Flickr friend taught me how to do injet transfers. This is like Polaroid transfers, but without the Polaroid. Here’s how you do it: Take one of those sheets of print-your-own shipping labels and peel off all of the labels, so you have only the blank wax paper-like sheet. Put that sheet in your printer shiny-side up and print on it as if it were glossy photo paper (if your image has text, be sure to flip it before printing, or it will come out backwards). As soon as it comes out of the printer, press a lightly dampened sheet of paper over the image. Pretend you’re lifting a comic strip with Silly Putty (the principles involved are actually nearly identical). After several seconds of pressing, gently lift off the paper. The image should now be transferred onto it.

You may have to experiment with your printer’s brightness and contrast settings and the amount of your paper’s dampness until you hit upon a good combination. For me, the process has been hit-or-miss, I think mostly because I’d previously worked with a notebook of homemade paper. The texture is a bit too rough for a good transfer. Which in fact is why I’d never written in that notebook and chose it for inkjet transfer experiments. Some people say that cheapo ultra-glossy photo paper also works instead of a label sheet, but I’ve had better luck with the label sheet. In theory, heavy wax paper ought to also work, but I haven’t tried it.

After reading Monda’s post, I thought, why not use inkjet transfers to make my own bookplates? Naturally, I was reluctant to risk a nice book for a potential transfer disaster (plus, moisture–on a book?! Never!). But then I remembered that box of library cards upstairs. Voila! Last night I ran off a few, until my label sheet finally crinkled and curled from too many times wiping away the leftover ink. Here are the results:

(Click each to see it larger.)

The one on the left was my first attempt. Too small, but not bad. On the right, we see that Aubrey Beardsley works well for this method, but I evidently neglected to dampen the card enough and lost most of the art deco border.

Here are a couple that I made by altering old typewriter advertisements. The one on the left is from an Adler ad, and Remington on the right. I like these two a lot.

I didn’t insert names into any of them because I figure that it would be more appropriate to type or write one’s name on the card.

So there you have it: DIY bookplates. I think I’ve just given away what a few people are getting for Christmas, but oh, well.

(Just watch. There is probably a small collective of library card collectors who are at this moment calling me a destructive heathen for destroying pristine library cards.)

Slides ruled back then

Filed under: ephemera — olivander June 15, 2009 @ 3:23 pm

Nowdays, playground equipment has to be all “safe”.

One half of a 1926 stereograph.

Update: ironically, my kid broke his leg on one of those “safe” slides this weekend.

ETCetera #86

Filed under: ephemera, typewriters — olivander June 6, 2009 @ 9:09 pm

The June issue of ETCetera is out, and I encourage anyone who has not already done so to sign up for a subscription. It’s great stuff, and each issue only gets better. Not only does this issue have a revealing look at several gorgeous makes of Spanish typewriters that you’ve probably never even heard of, one of yours truly’s typers is featured in another section. And as always, there are tons of other informative and entertaining features. Who would have thought so much typewriter goodness could be crammed into 16 full-color pages?


Filed under: Errata, ephemera — olivander June 4, 2009 @ 10:31 am

The Old School

Filed under: Errata, ephemera, typewriters — olivander August 19, 2008 @ 2:01 pm

Today we visit a couple of classrooms from the past. Back before “keyboarding” classes, nearly every high school student learned touch-typing, in rooms full of clacking, dinging, ratcheting clamor. And lest those of you who didn’t have to take one of those classes believes that there is no difference between “typing” and “keyboarding”, the two are worlds apart. Touch-typing is an art. The keys are not neatly compressed together and nearly level, as on a computer keyboard. The vertical and horizontal finger reach of a manual typewriter is nearly twice that of a keyboard. Shifting required actual muscle strength. You had to align forms with the type; calculate centering, right-justification, columns; keep track of your bottom margin; plan ahead for footnotes. There was no word wrap.

If you made a mistake–oops!–backspace and delete could not save you. Heaven forbid you didn’t discover the typo immediately and had to use half-spacing to insert a missing character. If you were being timed for speed, there was no going back and correcting your mistakes with a quick backspace or Ctrl-<-. Those flubs counted against your word count.

And you did most of this without looking at the machine.

First up is a postcard, c.1915, of the Spencerian Commercial School typewriting room. Click to see it full-size and try to find as many different typewriters as you can. Is that a Smith Premier 10 next to the Monarch and the Remington in the near row?

Spencerian Commercial School

Next is a Library of Congress photo of a typing class at Eastern High School in Washington, D.C., c.1920. Most of the typewriters are Remington #10s. Click the photo to view it larger and enjoy the fashions which were popular then. If you click here, you’ll see the most wonderful thing about this photo: the list of classroom typewriter serial numbers and reported problems (“Remington RX85832 – Bell does not ring”).

Interestingly, while the fashions and the machines in use indicate that this undated photo was taken in the 1920s, a couple of those serial numbers cross-reference to much later dates.

Eastern High Typing Class

The Handsome New 1939 Speedline Corona

Filed under: Finds, ephemera, typewriters — olivander June 20, 2008 @ 5:11 pm

1939 Speedine advert

More typewriter ephemera. Matchbook cover detail advertising this typewriter. I plan to print it out as an 8×10 and hang it on the wall above the Speedline assembly. If you’d like to do the same, you can download the large version from my Flickr page, or e-mail me to get the more printer-friendly 1200dpi original.

Keep Your Typewriter Working for Uncle Sam

Filed under: Finds, ephemera, typewriters — olivander May 20, 2008 @ 2:03 pm

Dirt...is the Enemy!

For your education and amusement, I present the 1950 Federal Work Improvement Program Equipment Maintenance Series #1 booklet, Typewriter Care. Here you will find an excellently illustrated guide to cleaning and maintaining your government-issued typewriter, how to lift and carry a typewriter, fastening the typewriter to a desk, removing the platen, and helpful hints to prolong your typewriter’s life. Though not perhaps as amusingly dated as Family Fallout Shelters, it is nonetheless an interesting and informative glimpse into the days when the typewriter repair guy was as ubiquitous to the office as today’s helpdesk guy.

Caution to those on dialup: the pdf is just over 5mb in size.

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