Friday, May 27, 2016

TN Typing Safari and an Heirloom

Been awhile since I did a post like this. Courtney and I made a four day trip through TN last weekend, seeing old friends and family we hadn't seen since the wedding last year. Of course, there were antique stores, so we poked around.

Sears Malibu. $39. Not in terrible shape, but too much for what you're getting.

Royal KMG. $65. Carriage grinds on the rails. Ech.

Bradford. $60. Way overpriced for what's essentially a Brother clone.

Futura 800. No case. $30. Eh, I've seen better.

Oh HO! This is a pretty little thing. Essentially a copy of the Classic 12, but with such a
nicer paint job! However, it's gotta go to Vern. Something's wrong with the escapement.
It stops moving after just a few hits on the space bar or other keys. Not bad for $25. Best deal of all the machines.

Getting the Penncrest was nice enough, but the best haul was something much much better.

Courtney's grandparents used to own a florist shop in Dixon. About a year after they died, my mother-in-law remembered that they used to have an old manual machine. Courtney asked if we could go by there and see if they still had it. I agreed, but in my mind I was thinking, "There's no way they still have it after all this time. They probably changed it so much we won't even recognize the shop! I'll bet they took that typewriter to the nearest junk store the day they moved in."

We walked inside, met the new owner, Gary, and explained our strange request. He took our phone number and said he'd have one of the ladies look around. Meanwhile, Courtney and I went to an antique store down the block. Twenty minutes later we got a call and Gary said they'd found something.

In the depths of an enormous cardboard box, covered in foam padding, was this Royal Litton 440.

As you can see, one of the plates under the left ribbon spool is missing.
It has zero effect on the machine's function, but looks kind of weird. 

Courtney's aunt told us that she remembers them using a big black Royal, because it came with the shop. However, I told her if that was the case, then they probably traded it in when the 440 came out in the 1960s. The machine was dirty and the ribbon was dried beyond recovery, but other than a sticking A and 6 key, it works just fine! They keyboard is just like a Quiet Deluxe, and the feel is very similar too. What I find amazing is how quiet this is for a standard typewriter, especially with the typing pad under it.

Unlike my SG1, it's plain and not all that colorful. Yet, I like that simplicity. It could easily fit on any desk in any home without drawing too much attention. If the SG1 is like a Tiger tank, then this is like a Stewart, or my beat up Malibu. Everything works, and even though you can't type quite as fast as the Olympia, you can type fast enough. It'll put the words on paper and do it all in neat lines. Having typed a few letters on it already, I'm pleased with its performance.

Courtney and I are very thankful that we have this memento. I didn't get a chance to know Donald and Ruth as well as she did, but my time with them was well-spent and they were very kind to me. I'll always cherish those memories and this typewriter.

Power to the pen!


  1. Fun report! Congratulations on the Penncrest and the 440.

    To my eye, the Malibu is one of the ugliest typewriters ever designed—especially in the common khaki-green version.

  2. Excellent, I love when a typewriter comes with a personal story. :-)

  3. Great safari story. I quite liked the 'Bradford" Brother clone, but the price has to be reasonable as you say.

  4. Sorry I didn't see this earlier, but ironically enough I snagged a Penncrest Caravelle 12 last week. I've got to do a little work on the ribbon vibrator, but I love it. Especially with the wide carriage. In case you are curious, I still have yet to do any typewriter art, but when I do, I'll use the '46 KMM first. ;) Great backstory on the 440. Congrats on such a precious memento!