Typewriter Jamboree at Herman’s

My brain is kind of pickled by pop culture and the internet, so in my failing state, I made this.  I apologize for acting like somebody’s mom who just discovered memes:

I had to do it; her look of knowing approval just kills me.

The big Typewriter Jamboree (AKA the 11th Annual Chestnut Ridge Typewriter Rendezvous hosted by Herman Price AKA Hermanpalooza) was last weekend. Before I set out for Herman’s on Friday, I packed up a couple donations for Wordplay Cincy: a real nice Olympia SM3 and a Lettera 22 with script typeface that I bought in North Platte, Nebraska. The Lettera was very sticky and had the gummy escapement problem that causes the carriage to slide willy-nilly, so I did quick clean.

I hit the road on a beautiful fall day and headed west out of DC.

Into the mountains I went:

I reached Morgantown, WV and then made my way to Herman’s where Friday arrivals were to congregate. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

Good grief – the party was already rocking and rolling Friday afternoon.  Porta-Potties at the ready.

This is a beautiful Oliver 9 rehab in fire-engine red:

In the evening I headed out into Morgantown proper which is a nice little college town with a very happening nightlife:

I saw a manhole with my favorite exasperation exclamation.  It is frequently heard coming from me, bent over a typewriter:

Saturday dawned chilly and gray.  The rain started.

It got muddy. Like Woodstock, but with less LSD.

Fortunately we had a huge tent for presentations and vats of hot coffee (courtesy of Mrs. Price who deserves a medal for Extreme Hostessing Skills)

Herman formally welcomed us with jokes. He is very funny – his comedic timing is pro-level.

And then came the presentations: Typewriter First Aid using the gun technique which I ate up.  It was so good – I picked up a bunch of good ideas.

The Brumfield clan brought a slew of typewriters – many from the  Magdalinski Collection of South Bend , IN.  Brian B’s presentation on the incredible work his family did in saving many of the typewriters in the collection was riveting.

I didn’t know much about Royal electrics, but I came away with a new appreciation of them after Ian B’s presentation.  Some of these pictured are extremely rare.

There was a typewriter beauty contest:

Number 88, the Pittsburgh won:

A lot of people came with business cards. I’ll have to make up some for myself.

I talked typewriters with people all day Saturday until I was hoarse. I picked up so many excellent tips on typewriter repair and cleaning. It was a novel feeling, talking typewriters with people equally passionate about the crazy things. There were so many typospherian rock stars in the flesh at the gathering – I felt a bit shy. I was thisclose to asking for pictures with them, but I chickened out.

Saturday evening, mid-sentence in a discussion about Smith Corona 5 series, I felt the abrupt onset of overwhelming exhaustion.  A career introvert, the day had got the best of me and I cratered.  I slunk back to the silence of my hotel room to recover and work through the conversations of the day.

I had to leave early Sunday morning, so I missed the speed typing contest.  However, other attendees posted pictures of the Jamboree on the Facebook Antique Typewriter’s Collectors group page.

Resolutions for next year at Herman’s

  • Plan better so that I can stay for Sunday’s events
  • Talk to all the people I didn’t get a chance to pester this year
  • Get pictures with people
  • Bring business cards with contact information
  • Encourage Herman to open his swimming pool (just kidding!)

Early Sunday I returned to the DC area – a light early snow blanketed the mountains.

I came back with three delightful junkers that were essentially freebies: two Royal 10s and a LC Smith No. 8, all with “issues”.

Thank you, Mr. E and Darcy!

The L.C. Smith No. 8 is a pretty early one, serial number 278424-8.  It’s a 1916 which would make it the earliest No. 8 at TWDB.

Side note:  Typewriter Database Version Epsilon is looking pretty snazzy! It’s so nice to have the mobile and desktop versions united.

The L.C. Smith was rusted solid – boat anchor/doorstop condition.  I blew out the crud and doused it with PB Blaster penetrant and left it to reek quietly in the garage while I unpacked.

When I came back, I gently tried to move the carriage.  It moved with crusty squeaks.  With patience and petroleum-based penetrants, I gently freed the stiffened parts.   Using my hands and a soft touch, I delicately tried to move the rust-frozen parts that should move: typebars, ribbon vibrator, universal bar, sublevers, carriage return, back space.  I got the letter “T” moving.  The slug met the platen, there was a ba-dump as the escapement did its thing, and the typewriter moved a space.

Here’s the “T” and space bar working it:


Now that I am sure that the LC Smith can type, I want to clean it thoroughly.  I wish I could do the kind of work that Words Are Winged does – he’s amazing. I may do a careful Evapo-rust/cleaning dunk if I can get the keys and platen off.  The platen is soldered on (!) Someone lost the screw and decide to affix the sliding platen holder with a blob of solder. Oh well.  Onward.


*Postscript to Anne ’88: drop me a line at the email address below so I can come pick up your typewriters.

24 thoughts on “Typewriter Jamboree at Herman’s

  1. Thanks for sharing your visit to Herman’s. One year I may be able to attend. glad you had a great time and picked up some new tips as well as typewriters. I now also know what to do with one of my extra Olivers.


    • It is worth the pilgrimage – the conversation was so satisfying and the presentations were excellent. My only regret is that I didn’t stay for Sunday events and didn’t get a chance to talk to more people. Next year, I’ll plan better.


  2. Michael Arau says:

    Thanks for the lovely tour. Once I get my rocket sled repaired, I’ll make a trip out from the Pacific NorthWest. 🙂 Meanwhile, I’ll have to live vicariously through great post like yours.

    So, I have a question… What is the GUN technique?


    • I took the name from the title of the presentation on the schedule. I’m not sure if it’s an acronym for something, but the presenter Glenn G is an antique gun collector (Civil War era firearms). He described cleaning products and techniques that are used on antique firearms and had a sensible historian’s perspective on how to treat old metal: know the ingredients of the each product, how they interact with old metal and paint, and proceed “inch-by-inch”.

      I am going to try to get his presentation notes. There was so much he covered, and I am not doing it justice.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Tyler A says:

    Someday I’ll get there and finally meet everyone. Glad to see you back at it, turning rusted hulks into typing champs once again!


  4. Ooh, somehow I knew you’d take good-working machines and come back with basket cases to play with. 😀
    You totally shoulda got fan selfies with the stars – fear is the mind-killer, and all that. (:


    • You should come out to Herman’s at some point and do a presentation – maybe about Typewriter Database (which, I might add, is looking great).

      Next year I am getting autographs and fan selfies for sure. And I am bringing business cards.


  5. Nick Merritt says:

    I dunno — you very much are in the same league as your heroes there, I think! And indeed, I am not surprised that you came away with some “misfit toys” that just need your kind ministrations. Some year I’ll have to get to this gathering!

    Thanks for this overview. I think I’d have been on sensory overload, myself.


  6. OldGreyBeard says:

    “My brain is kind of pickled by pop culture and the internet, so in my failing state, I made this. I apologize for acting like somebody’s mom who just discovered memes:”

    I wouldn’t worry. I’ve only just worked out the reference. Sigh… At least I did it for myself rather than being told by a pitying teenager.


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