Sunday, April 25, 2021

A century old, new arrival

Picked up yesterday.

The central paper-finger (pinkie?) just above the writing point already identifies the machine. This is the quintessential old typewriter. As my first real deviation from pre-war portable typewriters, this was the one typewriter model I had been looking to get a nice specimen of

Desktop cathedral - the decals are nearly all there and the machine looked in pretty good condition. For this style of more ornate decal, I think it's a very late machine. From browsing the various 5's at The Database, it seems this style of decal was mostly replaced by a simpler lining around 1917. Nevertheless the serial number places this typewriter in 1920 - it only just turned a century old.

Strictly speaking, this could also be termed a portable typewriter. It comes complete with its protective case with carrying handle. Certainly not light-weight though - it really illustrates how amazingly compact and light the 1920s portable typewriters were at the time.

With a glass-topped standard 'qwerty' keyboard, it still is an international machine with all the texts on the control keys in French - 'espacement en arriere' (écrit sans accents...).

This venerable writing machine had been stored in an attic, left untouched for probably 35 years or more. That is great for the machine, as it is complete and 'unmolested' - e.g. no tell-tale signs of children having operated the machine or parts missing. There is some corrosion and plating-loss to the nickel parts, but not too grave. One of the rubber feet has fallen apart and one screw seems to miss half a head, again nothing fatal. What is more worrying is that the machine likely was exposed to heat (hot attic?) - this probably is the cause of lacquer crinkling in spots and the decals looking very fragile. 

The paper-tray decal e.g is complete and looks lovely, but also looks like the slightest touch will flake it off - this is something to think about, how to stabilize.

There were no spools or ribbon, but a ribbon and spools of the correct pattern were quickly fitted. Then after a very light oiling of the carriage guide-rails, the sluggish carriage 'woke up' and the machine sprang to life - as far as I could see everything works as it should. Machinery that was built to last!

Only given a light cleaning and removing of dust, this centenarian will be slowly and carefully 'spruced-up' over the summer. (First continuing the fixing-up of its younger and lighter cousin, the Underwood Champion portable.)


  1. Congratulations on getting such a fine typewriter. Those with the base and case for transport are quite rare.

    1. Thank you - it is 'magnificent' :-)
      Had been wondering about those cases - not seen them for over a year and last month there's three on the local classifieds site. (Like buses...) Had been holding out for one with case - to keep it safe :)

  2. I've worked on dozens of these now. They have some quirks. Fortunately, service information is not hard to find.

    1. That's a good thing indeed - the 'Typosphere' in general is a great resource that also really helped getting to grips with the RP2's. (Though I won't be getting a 'reference-machine' for this one - much too bulky! :-)