Sunday, August 30, 2015

The ITC Pad and an Old Book

First, a big thank you to Ted for helping me get my TWDB account sorted out. I've added about seven machines and will keep adding as time allows.

When I got my Olympia SG3, I got a mysterious pad with it. The seller apparently wanted to get rid of it, but I put it away for awhile because the machine was already sitting pretty high up on the desk. However, a few days ago I drug it out for some testing.

I tried Googling "ITC pad" and got nothing. From what I can tell, it was supposed to be a computer pad and the previous owner ended up using it for the typewriter.

So, there I was, playing with my new Royal Deluxe, when I thought "why not?" and slid it under the machine.

I was blown away.

I have never heard such a distinct change in the sound quality when using a typewriter. I don't know what this thing is made of, but it does an amazing job absorbing the vibrations of the moving parts, as well as keeping the machine stationary. I tried it on my Deluxe, both of my QDLs, and my burgundy SM3. Each time the results were the same: Hollywood-esque sound. Nothing but the "tap tap" that we've all heard a million times in big-budget films.

Now, to be fair, I had a few instances where there was not a noticeable change: my Olivetti 21 and the Remington Fleetwing. Both of those are semi-portable, much bigger than the others mentioned above. Was it their sheer size and weight? Their construction and design? No way to tell for certain.

Next, I tested my RR DL 5, Quiet Riter, Model 1, Lettera 32, and Tower President for comparison. The DL 5, and President had no noticeable changes, probably owing to the Reming's unique gear-based keystroke and the President's rattly nature. The Lettera 32 was unchanged as well.

The Model 1 usually makes a hollow clunking sound when striking the platen, thanks to the counterweighted type bars, but the pad made it sound a bit more like a tap, which was good. It was a small change for a machine that's already, by and large, quiet. The Quiet Riter didn't see much improvement either. Like the Fleetwing, each key strike produces a metallic jingling sound like car keys in your pocket.

The portables I've mentioned here are the bulk of my collection. The pad seems to work best with a Royal or Olympia design. Is it the typewriters themselves, or a combination of things?

I will try more in the future, but I've learned:

1. Anything can affect the acoustics of a manual typewriter, be it the typing surface, the size of the room, the material in the walls, etc.

2. Some models have better sound than others.

Ste. Genevieve has a new shop downtown. Courtney and I went to visit. She came up to me and said, "I'm not letting you leave without this book." So, what did we bring home, at my wife's insistence?

1912? Titanic had gone down and portable typewriters were just coming into the mainstream.

The book's so old it has the keyboard for a Smith Premier!

The book was designed to be use on a stand where pages could be flipped over, hence, there is material on both sides of each page. The exercises go from basic keystrokes to copying detailed documents, like the ledger above. Whoever owned this used it a lot, as there are handwritten notes all over the place.

The only typewriter that comes close to the year this book was printed is my 1926 Underwood No. 4. I'd like to try the exercises and see if it helps me get better with my technique, but the binding is really old and I don't want it to get damaged any more than it already is. I'll try working out a compromise to preserve it as best as I can.

Power to the pen!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Mystery Revealed!


Serial number puts this machine around 1937-38.

Ignore the wavy text. The alignment is fine, but the paper was crumpled a bit.

When I say we made plans, we made PLANS. The seller was supposed to come down to Cape Girardeau for a business trip. That got cancelled. I was supposed to go to Jefferson City for a week of training. That got cancelled. Since she had once worked at the House of Representatives, she told me to call my rep and ask her to bring it to me once the session was over. So, I did. Left a message, and, of course, didn't hear anything back. It was probably the most outrageous thing I've ever done for a typewriter and it didn't even work.

Now, the backspace is a very silly problem. Sometimes it works, most of the time it doesn't. When I push the button, I can feel the bar catch something, then slip out of place.

However, if I tip the machine upright and take the weight off, it works perfectly every time.

What the heck is going on?

I'm not upset by the fact it doesn't work, just puzzled. Two of the tab stops had been pushed to the point where one was riding on top of the other. Took me a few minutes before I could worm them out. How does that even happen?

Ah well, the point is I've got a very nice pre-war Royal that will hold a nice spot in my collection.

Next post: some interesting typewriter accessories!

Power to the pen!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Front Stroke Ep 6: Hermes 3000

The mystery typewriter will be revealed later this week. In the meantime, enjoy the latest episode!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Typewriter Riddle

Can you guess who came to my home?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Got My Olivetti 21 Back

Better than ever!

This Praxis is for sale if anyone wants it. Email me.

Power to the pen!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Second Chain Letter Arrives!

Yesterday, I got the responses for the Second Typosphere Chain Letter!

Thank you all for more wonderful responses! I'm so proud I thought of this. It's always a lot of fun.

This weekend is Jour de Fet, or "The Days of Celebration" in Ste. Genevieve. I wasn't able to take any photos because I was working so much, but I did receive a very precious gift from a friend.

This is an original 1830s beaver felt hat. Beaver was once king of the fur trade, more valuable than anything else. The reason? There was a huge demand for felt clothing, and being naturally waterproof, beaver made a fine choice. Beaver felt clothing became popular in Europe around 1500.

By the time Ste. Gen was established in 1735, most of Europe's beaver were near extinction. North America seemed brimming with infinite resources. Long hunters like Daniel Boone would paddle out to places like Colorado, Oklahoma, and Kansas to get the furs, which were then shipped to hatting factories on the east coast. A beaver hat could easily fetch $10 a piece, while a wool hat might only go for $1.

There was a problem: the manufacturing process involved a substance called mercury nitrite, which released toxic vapors. This caused permanent brain damage that led to many cases of insanity, hence the expression "mad as a hatter." Even so, it was a thriving industry that provided thousands of jobs to poor immigrants fresh off the boat. Lewis Carol based his fictional character on this well-known occupational hazard.

By the 1860s, silk was killing the beaver trade. You no longer had to pay all of those people to trap the animals, ship them, then manufacture them into the product. Just get a few worms and you're set.

My friend brought the hat to me when I was working. I didn't have a period costume and he told me to wear it while giving tours. I did...once, afraid my sweat would ruin it. At the end of the day, I told him some of the questions people had asked me and he said, "Well, I think I'm going to give that to you."

Words failed me.

My friend happens to be a professional antique dealer who specializes in high dollar items. No garage sale junk in his line of work! I was touched to be given something so old and so beautiful. Once I get a hat stand, I'll put it in a prominent place.

It's been a good weekend.

Power to the pen!