One can easily justify the absolutely unnecessary purchase of Yet Another Typewriter when they are as beautiful as these two. As many of use collectors can attest, a typewriter find can be hit-or-miss. Sometimes a beautiful case contains a beat-up junker, and sometimes a beat-up case contains a pristine typer. I was lucky to find two beautiful typers snug safe in their cases.
I call this one my China Doll. She’s a 1948 Smith-Corona Clipper. This was the last full year of the Speedline body style, as well as one of the last years of the flying boat from which she took her name. The airplane depicted in her logo is a Boeing 314, made famous by Pan-Am’s fleet of globe-hopping Clippers. Pan-Am had, in fact, retired their B-314 fleet a couple of years earlier, in 1946, and sold the planes to either the Navy or to private charter companies. Like the Speedines themselves, B-314s continued to appear sporadically under various names into the early 1950s.
Possibly the most famous flying boat was the China Clipper, which ran the San Francisco to Hong Kong route from 1935 to 1941. Technically, only Pan-Am’s original Martin M-130 flying boat can be called the China Clipper. The B-314 which replaced it on the same route in 1939 was called the California Clipper. Many people, however, continued to refer to it as the China Clipper. In fact, in the 1939 children’s book, Timmy Rides the China Clipper, it is the new B-314 that is depicted and not the true M-130 China Clipper.
But I digress. China Doll is a beautiful machine. Her workings move as smoothly as a Swiss clock, and I’m sure once I put a new ribbon in her she will be as much a joy to type on as to look at.
Oh, and why did I select the China Clipper to name her for over the eight other Pan-Am routes? See, China white is a particularly pure and powerful form of heroin. It seemed an appropriate, albeit obscure reference to my own addiction to typewriters as well as her airborne heritage.
I’m feelin’ tragic like I’m Marlon Brando
When I look at my China Girl
I could pretend that nothing really meant too much
When I look at my China Girl
–Iggy Pop/David Bowie, “China Girl”
This chrome-laden 1936 Royal DeLuxe beauty was literally bought sight-unseen. Though he didn’t know exactly what he had, the very nice gentleman selling it gave such an accurate description that I knew there was a gem to be had for next to nothing. And indeed it turned out to be one. The only minor problem is that it seems to have a worn bearing in the carriage which causes it to stick about in the middle. I’m too chicken to attempt to disassemble and reassemble a carriage. This may be one that I tote up to Vale Typewriter for quality, professional repair. This is the A-model, BTW, the one with a tabulator. I’ll have to think of an appropriate person to name it after. Someone who is a wallflower, unnoticed by everyone, until she is drawn from her shell to become a flashy star. Hmm…Norma?