Thursday, October 14, 2021

Thrift-store find; a Comptometer JS 10 Supertotalizer

Last month on the way back from an errand in town, popped by a local thrift store to just have a browse-round. Right inside the entrance on the table that normally carries the typewriters sat this calculator.

(Not a good picture, but taken quickly - the full-keyboard calculator at bottom-right.) 

That's a Comptometer Supertotalizer, that is!

A Comptometer is a fairly common type of quick key-driven adding-machine. The Supertotalizer version however is reported to be pretty rare, so it was surprising to just walk into one here locally in the recycling/thrift store. Did a quick check and picked it up then-and-there, making a U-turn back to the check-out and quickly bought it. That browse-round of the store will have to wait for another day.

Had been keeping half an eye open for a Comptometer already for some time, waiting for a nice 8-column black-keys specimen to turn up locally and reasonably priced. When however a rare Supertotalizer sits right there for the picking-up, a 10-column machine with green keys is good too :)  

This copper-brown machine is a Supertotalizer (or Super Totaliser). Introduced by Felt & Tarrant around 1934, this is essentially a model J mechanism with the Supertotalizer bolted onto the front, both housed in an enlarged 'shoebox'. Both components have their own serial numbers, so the main serial number is J324703 and the Supertotalizer component has serial number S1919. The J-number dates it to about 1935.

It's very 'stiff', several carry's don't work and the totalizer is completely jammed, but it is complete with all the comma-indicators and keytops.

About those keys; they are present..., however, as is common for these 1930s model J machines, the plastic (Galalith?) of the white keys has severely degraded and the ink has 'gone wild' and migrated all over the keytops. The awful sticky dust (fur!) under the keys and tarnishing suggest the machine was left untouched somewhere in a barn for the last 50 years or so.

Compared to typewriters these are dauntingly tricky (and dense) mechanisms to take apart and tinker with, so hopefully a good cleaning and new lubrication will restore the mechanism to working order. First however is to 'sanitise' and clean the outside and the keyboard... (yuck!)


  1. There's a project for sure! Good luck (:

    1. Tnx - it certainly is! Already making progress :-)