Saturday, November 17, 2018

Toy-store with 97 year old new item on the shelf

Unlikely the store know, nor that the brand-owners would like to know it, but it just struck me that the shop had a near-century old new item on the shelf.

The gifting season is nearly upon us with December 5th approaching rapidly, so toy-stores are well-stocked. When browsing the shelves this morning (incidentally for a birthday gift, not on behalf of the holyman), was struck by this box illustration on the shelf.

Very prominently on the front of the vehicle is a triangular plate. Now that is a very recognisable classic Meccano part; the 'flat trunnion' part 126a.

The part 126a was introduced in the September 1921 issue of the Meccano Magazine (top-right of page 3), following on the part 126 'trunnion' introduced in the May issue of the same year.

The naming is a bit odd, as it is most certainly not a trunnion. The part started out as a trunnion-support, but somebody at Meccano got confused apparently and they named the support 'trunnion'.

The 2018 issue 'buggy' does look modern and of course has plastic shaped-parts as well. Nevertheless it is still very much Meccano and still compatible with century-old parts - it even contains a near-century old part. (There's also a strip part number 3 in there I think - that design is actually more than a century old.)

Today's Meccano is a brand owned by a Canadian company with its design-offices for Meccano in California. From what I gather, they are trying hard to be a modern technical toy including robotics and electronics and would not like to emphasise their heritage. With the amount of look-alikes and low-cost 'knock-offs' also on the shelves, I can imagine that it is not an easy task to catch the attention of children (and parents) today. And that's not even mentioning the ubiquitous Danish product with its technical bits.

Nevertheless, they still do have parts on the shelf - have done for a century. Good show, that.

Friday, November 16, 2018


Continuing to accessorise the pre-war typewriter - a stapler. Just purchased a booklet-stapler.

This Trioh branded stapler is almost like-new. Very rigid design, all metal (save the cork base under the metal baseplate). Will staple booklets with its angled arm. Very simple spring to feed the staples.

From a brief scan of the net; these should be fairly common. This model was made by the Hamburg firm of Wolf & Sager probably from the early 30-ies. There are an astounding amount of small variations, judging by a quick image-search on the net. Different staple-feed spring designs, a multitude of baseplate variants - but all follow the same basic arrangement. Built to last.

This specimen seems the most simplified of the design, and does not have a DRM/DRGM marking, making it probably a late (post-war) manufactured model.

The stapler came with an additional cardboard box.

And indeed - should keep us in staples for decades to come.

With thousands more red-stripe staples - these have weak spot at the painted section, allowing you to cleanly 'un-staple' the paper by breaking it in half. Red-stripe staples are still being manufactured and available. These boxes are 'patents pending' (though not telling what application numbers actually are pending), suggesting they might be the same age as the stapler.

The black lacquer and chrome makes this a good match for the pre-war portables :)

Friday, November 9, 2018

Yet more plastic...

Took time for a quick de-tour on the commute to browse a large thrift store. On one shelf, spotted a black case that looked like it could contain a typewriter.

The case is made of hard plastic. Looking closer anyways to read the label - yes that's a typewriter.

Lifting up the lid to peek inside; yes it is indeed a typewriter. It is electric, plastic and all beige. A Smith-Corona C400 electric typewriter.

It's still plastic machines season here...

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Typewriter spotting, typeface spotting too

Last week watched a simple film, an unremarkable and somewhat dated "Seven Keys To Baldpate". The version watched was released in 1947 and produced on a limited budget with unremarkable acting. The story I think rather shows its age, feeling more like a 1920s crime novel than a late forties 'noir' film. (As was remarked by a critic at the time...)

This 'aged' impression would not be far off - the story was written by Earl Derr Biggers and first published in 1913. That name would be recognisable to the public back then as the creator of Charlie Chan - a successful series of detective novels and several films featuring the Chinese detective created by Mr Biggers. This name might help draw in the curious to watch the film (- it did last week).

Coming back to Baldpate - the main character is a writer that is continually pulled away from his very nice Royal portable typewriter by the many goings-on. (An Aristocrat? Or an Arrow?)

The typewriter even gets featured in-action and close-up (when Kenneth actually gets the time to sit down at his machine). Quite a distinctive typeface, very unlike the more usual pica. (Royal 'Book'?)

A small 'typographical bonus' when watching this film, even though it's a bit dated with a convoluted story - it does still entertain.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Entering the plastic period

Several typewriters were spotted in a quick scout of a local thrift store. The first machine was this little Olivetti Lettera 12.

Even with an asking price of 5 Euro, this did not appeal. The machine housing does make it look sleek and styled for its period - it is however all plastic. As this is (probably) a seventies' machine, the carrying case is also all plastic. Carrying case is not quite right of course, as it is only a cover that simply snaps over the typewriter.

(The Olivetti was sitting on top of an equally seventies' (or eighties') Erika machine in a zip-case. No pictures...)

Moving right along - we saw another peek of plastic as we lifted the lid of a typewriterish-looking case.

A nicely molded housing of an Adler typewriter with quite tall plastic keytops. Perhaps because it is bigger, or because it had a proper carrying case, but this one is three times as expensive as the Olivetti.

The supply of pre-war all-metal machines seems to have dried up for now - we've arrived in a plastic era here :-)

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Decorative cover art

Decorative - perhaps not quite classic art-deco, yet definitely decorative art.

This is the cover of a small booklet about succulants. I.e. a practical guide to keeping these plants. Part of a larger series of practical guides on a wide array of subjects - 'knowledge and ability'. No date in the book anywhere, but the spelling places it in the early 1930-ies (Dutch spelling evolves rather).

This is a textbook, an introduction into physics aimed at 11 year olds. Titled 'thinking, finding and appying'. The styling definitely evokes the late 1920-ies, yet this revised 15th printing actually dates from 1953.

Just decorative.

(Well, actually also informative; everything in these books still true and valid.)

Friday, September 28, 2018

Little blue Magic Motor (and Outfit B)

A little bargain bought online last week. Postage actually came in at triple the purchase price, but still not too bad.

This is a little Meccano 'Magic Motor' in the pre-war blue colour. The printing code on the box dates this to 1938, correct for the blue motor with a mazac (zinc) pulley and this type 'A' of winding key.

Somebody has written '2/-' on the box in pencil. That will have been the price - so probably this was written on it in the shop already. This advert in the March 1938 issue of the Meccano Magazine confirmed that 2 shilling was indeed the price in '38. Not pennies, but not too expensive either and the cheapest motor on offer.

This is too good still to be repainted and works fine, it will go with the re-created 'blue & gold' outfit. This set of re-painted vintage parts has slowly grown. Over the past year the parts from lots that were too far gone and rusty were cleaned and repainted in the blue and gold scheme. To keep it all together and make it easy to use and store, a new box was created from paperboard sheets.

This box and the set of parts were based on the 1934 Outfit B. With 3D-printed pegs and clamps in a 'stringing-card', the parts are laid out the same way - it does have a certain 'presence' when opening the box.

For comparison, below is an image of the Outfit B from the '34 catalogue (this and more images in the NZMeccano gallery).

Something different with the newly created box, is that it's constructed as a two-layer box with a lift-out tray. This makes it practical to store any additional parts as they are periodically added to the blue and gold collection of parts. Quite a lot of parts have been added beyond the B...

There are actually two parts in the above image with their original finish still - the bright semi-circular plate and a square plate. They are right next to each other, upper-right of the bottom layer. The blue colour varied quite a bit.

The instruction book contained a page with a selection of models from the previous pages, modified to be powered with the little clockwork motor. Now with a matching blue Magic Motor in the set, some of the little colourful models will be set in motion too.  Fun little puzzles to make!