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!


  1. ITC (Inter-Continental Trading Corporation in New York) was the import company that distributed Olympias to US dealers. That's a typewriter pad that most likely was included with an Olympia machine. (:

    1. Oh...thanks! I learn more from doing these posts than anyone else.

  2. Neat book! I've seen pictures of Rose Fritz on Robert Messenger's blog.

  3. Sounds and looks like a handy pad for big and small typewriters.

  4. Pads really do make a difference. (So do tables, by the way :)
    Was amazed when I tried, made the Noiseless Portable a lot more noiseless...