Saturday, December 12, 2015

Confusing Corona

The machine looked derelict which was good, because this was purchased for the case. Had been wanting one to replace the case of the burgundy Speedline Sterling that was eaten by woodworms. (That case was so wormholed, it was almost see-through.) The supply of Corona Speedlines has dried up a bit here. Two years ago there would always be one or two listed online. This was however the first Speedline I'd spotted in a while. That it looked in bad shape was a bonus then - would not feel bad about taking the case and designating it a parts machine for the glossy Speedline.

The case overall is in good shape, but does miss part of a back hinge and has a chipped handle. Looks all replaceable/repairable though. Still very well suited to its task of protecting a Speedline in transport or storage. The dull grey Corona Standard Speedline inside is less derelict than it looked to be.

The machine itself has an interesting keyboard layout. This machine looks like it hasn't got all its marbles in a row and is missing one to boot! Looks like somebody creatively shuffled all the keys around. The letter keys clearly are later replacement keys, a modification to what probably originally was a standard US keyboard layout.

Compared to a 1938 glossy Speedline, it is rather austere and severe in appearance. No stripe on the cover, much of the originally glossy metal parts are simply black. Has a rock-hard platen and no linespacing ratchet, but still works otherwise. The threading of the ribbon suggests some neglect and 'uninformed use'. Again austere, no 'Floating Shift' logo on the strikeplate.

The serial number was again a surprise. It confirms this as a Standard, but the number 3C300146 would put this as manufactured towards the end of 1942. (Thank you Typewriterdatabase!) By that time war production was in effect with the few typewriters then being made new intended for government (military) use only.

That could all actually tie in well with the confusingly charactered keyboard. This is not a joke (probably), but it is a Belgian keyboard layout. Not found any primary sources for this, but this is referred to as the 'Valley' layout. Created in 1890 for speed (yes), this would have been an archaic and rare layout by the late forties I suspect.

Being made in 1942, this likely was used by American forces. Probably then made its way to Belgium in '44 or '45.  Then it somehow stayed behind in Belgium and got a Belgian keyboard layout. From the dealer label on the ribbon cover this was possibly done by Richard Boudin, Office Supplies and Equipment at 70 Rue Du Grand Central, Charleroi.

Perhaps not a parts machine...

First a clean-up and maybe then have a go at repairing this. To replace the ill-fitting replacement keys I think I can manufacture new plastic key inserts. Now to go hunt for a Corona key ring.  :-)


  1. Just goes to show you can't take anything for granted. FZXB on the top row? Bizarre!

  2. I have a Belgian-keyboard Olivetti MP1. I love the layout! I hope you can restore this typewriter.

  3. I was interested to learn about the Belgian keyboard layout. Two-finger-typist friendly! ;)

  4. It certainly is different! Great machine for a speed-typing contest :)

    Have been exploring and cleaning - this one certainly has issues (and missing bits). Broken off linefeed detent roller is challenging...