Royal 5

Royal5a

Royal5b

Royal5fI find this machine fascinating and alluring. The unusual “flatbed” design wasn’t popular in its day, early in the 20th century, but I find it beautiful and exciting, and have never seen anything quite like it. The feel is a bit ponderous, but I like that quality and have trouble keeping my hands off it. It’s in good shape, and only needed a cleaning and ribbon. These were sold with cases, though mine lacks one. It tends to cut off the upper portion of the “a” when using a black/red ribbon, so I use it with a blue or green ribbon set to stencil mode, which remedies the problem. I’m sure there’s a fix for that, but I’m unaware of it. Seems like a ribbon or setting issue. The platen is in good shape, with only slight indentations on the backup sheet.

Royal5d

Royal5c

The type slugs are heard to reach, so I have left them as-is for the time being. A smallRoyal5e wire brush would get the job done. I love the simplicity and ruggedness of this typewriter, which I also consider an objet d’art: everything is within reach and satisfies my needs, aesthetic and otherwise. It types beautifully and doesn’t skip a beat. I feel I’m playing an obsolete baroque instrument with yellowed sheet music. And it only cost $25.

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Olivetti Lettera 36C

Lettera36Cb

This is delightful electric, and my favorite so far. It was Olivetti’s first portable electric, and was made in the ’70s. It was designed by architect Ettore Sottsass. The first versions had rounded keys which which were later determined to be impractical for faster typing, and later models had rectangular keys. It has a metal body and a floating keyboard, and feels light to the touch. This one came with the original black, molded case, which is streamlined and has ridges running along it.Lettera36CLettera36Cc

I find the Lettera 36C wonderfully compact and tidy. I like the sleek design and find it very user-friendly. There are three dials on the bottom front: one is the on/off dial; another is for touch-control; and the other is for adjusting key force when using multiple sheets. The red button at the top left of the keyboard is a key dejammer of sorts: when keys strike each other, the keyboard function disengages. Pressing the button returns it to typing mode.

Lettera36CdOne thing I really like is that the spools don’t have nuts, something I’ve always found irritating because lacking one can render a manual useless, at least in my experience. I also like that is has a correcting function, though I haven’t bought a ribbon for that. I’m afraid prolonged use of correction tape will result in fine dust that can  cake on key parts with time.

I’m a big fan of uprights from the ’20s through ’50s, but this charming machine is enjoyable and efficient. It’s attractive, and one feels like touching it, humming along as the sentences snake forth.