About this blog

This blog is about the daily activities in a busy typewriter shop. I want to share with you the many interesting people who come in here, the beautiful machines I get and most of all the great typewriter stories that people share with me!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Family Typewriter

     As little as a generation ago, many homes had a family typewriter in it. These machines would see regular use from all members of the family. The sound of a typewriter clacking away was a familiar sound in the home. Sadly, those days are gone as the family typewriter has been kicked to the curb and replaced by the computer, video games, iphone and the rest. I have noticed in recent years that some families are bringing back the family typewriter, like the family that came in my shop earlier this week. The parents and their son and daughter of middle school age, came in looking for a machine that they all could use. They weren't sure if they wanted a classic vintage machine or a more modern style one. So they spent about an hour and a half trying all kinds of machines including many models of Olympia, Corona, Olivetti and Royal. Everyone was typing away seeing what they liked best. Eventually they narrowed the field down to a few machines and then took a family vote. The winner was a burgundy Corona Silent flattop style. It was a beauty. They left all excited and couldn't wait to start typing at home. This was a very nice family and I was impressed by the parents instilling old school values in their children along with developing a strong sense of community involvement and advocacy. I hope I'm not over stepping my boundaries here because they will be reading this blog. I applaud people who decide not to get on that technology treadmill. It was a pleasure to meet this family.
     But, several days later, Sam called to say that the typewriter had malfunctioned. It was skipping and binding up. He brought it back on Saturday and the ribbon reverse mechanism had jammed and that binds up the escapement assembly. Its a very minor problem but he expressed concern that with so many people using this machine that it might be prone to little mechanical failures from time to time. This was probably true so he looked at some Olympia SM machines that he had liked before. Eventually he decided that a green SM3 machine would be sturdy enough to hold up to heavy use. So we exchanged the machines and I feel confident that the Olympia will serve them well.
     One last observation on this story. I've noticed that many people and families that come in to buy or repair a typewriter mention that its a step in simplifying their life. I think that most of us, (myself included), get so consumed in our busy, hectic lives that we forget to slow down and enjoy the moments, that less is more. That's a huge thing. By simplifying our lives, we are enhancing the quality of our lives. End of sermon.

Ho-hum, another week, another foot of snow. 'Nuff said.

     Because of the crappy weather the last five or six weeks, people have not been able to come in and pick up their repairs. This along with the unusually high amount of typewriter donations and boxes from repairs shipped in, have created a space problem. There's nowhere left to put anything so everything getting stacked up. There are piles and stacks of typewriters everywhere. Its funny because most people that come in immediately exclaim, "Whoa, look at all those typewriters". If I think of it I'll take a picture of the shop this week and post it on my next blog. My friend John came in on Saturday and had some goodies for me. I got a Royal O Model machine along with a SM9 in great condition. We also made a trade. I gave him my SM3 two tone in technical elite and got a SM3 in burgundy already reconditioned for sale. What I really liked was a vintage ad for the new Corona Sterling (flattop style) from 1931. The ad exclaimed the machine as "Wellness in Typing". I didn't know that this style of Corona was made this early in the 1930's. 

whats in the pretty box?

     I want to go off topic here for a few minutes. Lately, I've had a few conversations with customers about hobbies and channeling your passion. Most of us have families and that 's our main passion. Many of us have hobbies that we have been into since childhood and also newer hobbies we've picked up as adults. They are an important part of life and a great source of joy. One of my hobbies is watchmaking and collecting antique pocket watches. I got into this in the early 1990's at the urging of a friend who thought it would be up my alley. Boy, was he right, it was a natural fit and I even took watchmaking classes from a local watchmaker for over five years. I actually thought that this was going to be my second career because the typewriter business was so bad, I was within a hair of closing the shop for good.  

This is part of my collection
Well, things always work out the way it was meant to be. I'm still here in the typewriter shop, but I still like to collect old watches. I'm so impressed with the quality of craftsmanship and the beautiful designs. They are a marvel to look at. I still use them on special occasions and have even lent them out for special events. I like that fact that so many of you typecasters out there have such varied and interesting hobbies. Its fun to read about every ones special interests.

a railroad grade watch from Hamilton
      I apologize to anyone who tried to check out my blog last night or this morning. I had awful computer problems last night as I was finishing up writing this post. I ended up losing most of the post and had to cancel the entire thing. I'm surprised you didn't my screams of frustration. I'm not a computer person, its a struggle for me to write this blog but I am learning slowly but surely. And I'm totally committed to continuing this blog, as long as people are interested in reading it.

     Well, that's it for this week. Thanks for checking it out. Everyone have a great week.



  1. Sorry about the enlarged picture. I have no idea how it got there. I couldn't figure out how to remove it without possibly deleting the entire post. I've done that before.

  2. As always, wonderful stories and insights. And those watches are works of art. Please keep your blog going.

  3. Tom, I look forward to your posts every week, so keep them coming. Our attitudes match pretty well, so maybe I'm reading so avidly in order to confirm myself. Watches, photography gear, bicycles, typewriters, pens... check, check, check, etc. Almost anything human-scale and not dependent on electricity ('cept maybe selenium light meters). Well, steam is OK, too. And that's funny because I like electricity; I think it's the idea of being tied down (batteries included) that I don't like.

    I wouldn't have made this comment so long, except that I notice similar overlapping interests in very many of the other commenters. Maybe the community is bigger and stronger than we realize.

    BTW, have you heard anything from our friend Matt? It's been 3 weeks now.

  4. Richard, I look forward to your comments. Thanks for reading every week.

    Michael, There are many overlapping similarities amoung this circle of friends. If you read Matt's last blog entry you'll see he's taking care of a personal problem and should be back in a week or two. Everyone misses his enthusiasm.

  5. So, Tom, do you do watch repair also? I only ask because I have an old Hamilton pocket watch (from my grandfather) that needs repair or maybe just a cleaning, either of which, I am not skilled enough to do.

  6. That is one cool typewriter. I like the color. Didn't know they had different colors back then.

    Corona Short Sale Agent

  7. Deek, Love Hamilton watches. My fav. I don't repair them anymore, other than my own because I don't have access to a watchmakers bench and cleaning machine anymore. After my daughter was born I cut way back on time consuming hobbies to be a better dad.

    Cameron, If you think that's cool, check out some of these collectors machines online. The many multi colored machines are a revelation.

  8. Thanks for letting me know, Tom. And I completely understand with a couple young ones of my own. I've had to cut some hobbies back myself.