Southern States

This past fall, our family landed south of the Mason-Dixon line in the Old Dominion, the U.S. Commonwealth of Virginia (hey, I think I can go to Herman’s this year!)  Typewriter-wise, I brought my little portables with me and left the big standards in California.  I will be back and forth between east and west for the time being.

It’s been a while – a helluva year. My daily WTF meter broke just six months into 2017 because of overuse.  The constant churn of events exhausted the poor thing and several of the gear teeth wore down and just broke off. I am debating whether I should take it apart and fix it. Do I really even need one?  In any case, I checked out of the internet and the typosphere for a while. Like Francis Weed, I have taken up woodworking as distraction and therapy.

New on the shelf

The eagle has landed: classing up the new Virginia neighborhood with a debris box and a rat-branded moving container.

End of an Era

Back in California, Moe from Mozo’s Antique Search and Rescue closed down her San Mateo location and sold her building.

I get a bit choked up about it , remembering the good old days of Moe and Roia and all the fun typewriters:

I wish I had that wrestlers poster

Before she left, Moe gave me this wonderful print which is currently hanging my bathroom in Virginia:

This is a picture of the Underwood exhibit at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) which was held in San Francisco. The exhibit featured a 14-ton functional Underwood 5 typewriter.  ETCetera  – Journal of the Early Typewriter Collectors’ Association had a good article in its Spring 2018 issue by Peter Weil about typewriters at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition and the PPIE.

In addition, the Shop at Flywheel Press closed its doors – I met so many beautiful typewriters there.

Like the passing of the elves from Middle Earth, it’s the end of an era.

Robust Update

The Olympia Robust has settled into her new gig at the Holocaust Museum in Richmond, Virginia. She rotates into the Dachau exhibit in the role of camp typewriter.  She was featured in the June 2017 issue of the Virginia Holocaust Museum Newsletter, De Malyene. The museum is a good place for the Robust right now.

Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in

After a year-long dry spell, I worked on three typewriters in the past week and found myself experiencing the pleasant, familiar sense of rightness and orderliness that typewriter cleaning brings me.

I was in Portland, OR last week doing family stuff. My sister showed up in town with a 1953 Remington Quiet-Riter that she had found in an antique shop in Columbia, TN. She wanted to get it typing and bring it to her neighborhood block party in Chicago this summer.

It was not typing – the typebars were gummed and rusted down. We got in trouble with my brother when he found us surreptitiously cleaning it on his kitchen floor, and we were banished to his garage workshop – which wasn’t a bad place for typewriter repair.  It was stocked with solvents and a good radio tuned to KGON.

After a good internal cleaning and new ribbon, the Quiet-Riter was typing very nicely.  The exterior is pocked with dots of rust, but it’s a happy typewriter on the inside.

I had to do some long-distance typewriter troubleshooting with my sister via text yesterday morning:

It turns out that her spools were not seated properly after she had fiddled with the ribbon – all fixed now.

I left Portland last week and headed to the SF Bay Area.  I had burritos with another of my sisters in San Francisco and afterwards her daughter pulled out her non-functional typewriter.  It had belonged to my niece’s grandfather.

What a weird Royal! This 1957 Royal Administrator was made in Mannheim, Germany. It is very similar to a Royal Diana except that it has a wide carriage.

The machine had been carefully stored (had the original case and dust cover), but the grease had congealed and stiffened and the Magic Margin, carriage, and typebars were not moving much. I took the typewriter home to San Mateo and cleaned the internal mechanics with mineral spirits.

Once it was clean, I enjoyed its crisp, precise typing.  It was pretty clanky sounding – perhaps the lack of insulation in the ribbon cover had something to do with the noise.  The forward-tilting lid is very appealing.

More pictures of the Royal Administrator are at Typewriter Database.

After finishing with the Administrator, I pulled out another typewriter, a 1957 Olympia SM3, from my front closet:

I had picked this up at Goodwill at the end of last summer when I was dropping off a huge load of old clothes and household items.

How could I resist?

Though there is corrosion on the case, the typewriter itself is pristine.  I imagine that someone received this Olympia as a birthday present, used it a couple times, and tucked it away in its case where it sat for 61 years.  In addition to the user manual, the original German-language factory inspection report was still in the case:

These two 1957 West German typewriters are a nice pair:

Southern States

I am back in Virginia for the time being, enjoying the  strange, wet, tropical summer and its attendant thunderstorms. The weather here is badass.

Here’s a pretty picture from Virginia to end my post.  My son took it last summer in Richmond, VA near where the Olympia Robust currently resides.





13 thoughts on “Southern States

    • It feels good to be back – the universe was telling me something when it sent me three typewriters in a week.

      I need to find a good catch and release source here in Virginia. The pickings are slim at thrifts and antique stores here – there may be more collectors in this area. I am considering doing local searches on eBay for “parts/repair” typewriters.

      And yes – that $6.99 Olympia SM3 came from my San Mateo Goodwill. I was unloading a huge carload of outgrown clothes and household items and I saw it at the intake area. They priced it while I waited. I am indebted to Goodwill as it is the most beautiful and clean SM3.


    • Isn’t that picture the craziest thing? When I received it, I wasn’t sure what it was from. “1915 PPIE” is printed on the back, so I googled that and determined that it came from the Underwood exhibit at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exhibition. The venue seemed vaguely familiar because I have been in those buildings several times. When my kids were young and I took them to the Exploratorium, a science and arts museum housed in those old 1915 buildings.


  1. Wonderful and entertaining update. How great to hear that you may make it to Herman’s! I’d love to meet you.

    Someone on Facebook recently got great results applying fine steel wool to a rust-spotted Quiet Riter like the one you show.

    The Holocaust Museum did a fine write-up on the Robust.

    The giant Underwood photo is amazing. There is a photo of the same scene in Peter Weil’s story, but it’s a different angle and moment, and the resolution isn’t as good. May I reproduce your photo in ETCetera? Drop me an e-mail (


    • I am very excited about going to Herman’s this fall – I mapped it and I am only about three hours away by car.

      I will bring some very fine steel wool with me next time I am in Chicago. The Quiet-Riter will probably need a coating a Renaissance Wax to keep it from breaking out again.

      You can certainly use the Underwood photo in ETCetera – I am honored! I will send you a high resolution version via email.


    • This year’s cross-country move really discombobulated me. I am finally getting my sea legs. I actually picked up a broken typewriter today from Craigslist and will be posting about it soon.


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