Jewell in the Rough

Some time ago, I heard through the grapevine that there was a neighborhood community art space that had a lot of typewriters.  Of course I had to check it out.


Jenn and Amber run The Shop at Flywheel Press, a “locally cultivated community art and design center”. I went down to the shop sometime before Christmas and – whoa – they had typewriters!

There were about ten typewriters scattered throughout the space. The Shop uses them for camps and classes and events.  These typewriters are working girls – no shelf queens, no display divas.


Well, there is one display diva:


Remington Porto-Rite

The Shop at Flywheel Press also has printing presses:


I need to know these people.

I chatted briefly with Jenn, one of the proprietors, and mentioned that I was a typewriter hobbyist who enjoyed tinkering with typewriters.  I left contact info as well as my blog address in case they needed help with their typewriters.

Last week, Jenn left a comment in a recent blog post – was I still interested in helping them with their typewriters?  They were having a Love on the Run Valentine’s Day event and were hoping to have operational typewriters that attendees could use to type love letters on.

I went right over and checked out the typewriters.  Most were in a less-than-completely-functional state. Dry ribbons, no ribbons, sticky keys, missing key tops, broken-ish.  They needed some attention before they could work their Valentine’s Day event.

One particularly sad specimen that caught my eye was a 1954 Underwood Jewell.  Jenn said that a painter had found it in an empty house that he was painting and had given it to the shop.  Paint-splattered and gummy, it called to me.  I asked it I could take it home and try to clean it up.  Jenn agreed.

I brought the Underwood Jewell home to my kitchen counter operating room and started scrubbing first with water.  Then I tried Dawn dish detergent and water.  Then I tried Scrubbing Bubbles. No luck. The paint splatters weren’t going anywhere.


The blender looks on with grim satisfaction.  Why the schadenfreude, Blender?


I didn’t want to do it, but I pulled out the rubbing compound.


It’s a fine abrasive and will take the paint off. I applied the rubbing compound and rubbed and rubbed – the paint splatters started to fade.

If the typewriter belonged to me, I would have continued with the rubbing compound despite the fact that with repeated rubbing, it will slightly flatten the crinkle paint texture.  It wasn’t mine, so I got it to a “respectably splattered” condition and stopped.

1954 Underwood Jewell Portable
Serial Number : W2557296


Why is Jewell misspelled?


Crazy Eights

This weird “8” with the rakish little curl is funny.  Many Underwoods of the 1930s through the 1960s have this “8”.  Other brands don’t have this “8”, do they?



This is her good side:


Going by what I see in Typewriter Database, it looks like this style Underwood metal badge was used in 1953, 1954 and 1955. Best badge ever:


Correction: Bill M.’s Underwood Ace has the best Underwood insignia ever.  His badge says “Speeds the World’s Business” around the globe of the insignia. Check out his blog header.

This Underwood Jewell types rough. Several of the typebars were bent and catching in the type guide.  I straightened them out using a light hand.

There doesn’t seem to be any sound insulation in the machine – it has a rough, clattering sound and feel. Did it ever have insulation?  So, so cool looking, but the typing experience is so loud and distressing.  I will cut this typewriter some slack because it has obviously lived a very tough life and been through great hardship.


I returned the Underwood Jewell to The Shop at Flywheel Press and started working on the other typewriters….there was so much to be done before the Love on the Run event.

To be continued…

7 thoughts on “Jewell in the Rough

  1. Tyler Anderson says:

    That’s a pretty cool concept; an antique store that uses some of its antiques for special occasions. I’ve never had the misfortune of dealing with a paint spattered machine, but I have seen plenty of them around. You did a great job reducing the damage, as I’m sure the methods and resources needed to take modern paint off of 50 year old paint would pretty much obliterate the older paint as well. I eagerly await ze Continuation you have promised


    • The Shop at Flywheel Press is more of a art space than a store. They sell cards, books and crafty stuff, but they mostly do art camps, classes and host art events. They even have an art gallery upstairs.They have several printing presses as well as a non-functional mimeograph machine. I’d like to try my hand at that. I have always wanted to use the “stencil” setting on my typewriters.


    • I’d love to play with that mimeograph – thank you for the supplier’s link. I am doing some online research on mimeograph machines – found a Facebook group of mimeograph enthusiasts.


  2. Nick Merritt says:

    Regarding Jewell, as a resident of Hartford, CT (where that Underwood was made, I expect), I can tell you that there is a Jewell Street downtown. It’s named for Marshall Jewell, who among other things was a governor of Connecticut in the later 1800s and chair of the national Republican Party. So maybe the folks at Underwood decided to make a little pun on the name and create an inside joke of sorts?


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