The Virtual Typewriter Museum
November 13, 2005 8:11 AM   Subscribe

The Virtual Typewriter Museum Including: the 'Holy Grail,' the 1870 Swedish Hansen Writing Ball - weird and wonderful pre-Cambrian typewriters such as an 1887 Miniature Pocket Typewriter, the Cooper circular, and an early wooden Spanish typewriter - early advertising trade cards and postcard (1 2 3) - and typewriter erotica. The end of the typewriter history is the gorgeous 1970s Olivetti Valentine.
posted by carter (17 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Bonus riddle: Find a common ten-letter word that can be typed using only the top row of a typewriter keyboard ...
posted by carter at 8:15 AM on November 13, 2005

Great stuff. That writing ball looks less like a typewriter and more like a Terry Gilliam torture device (circa Brazil). I love old typewriters (can't go to a second hand shop without checking out the typewriters), but I had never even heard of index typewriters.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:20 AM on November 13, 2005

I got the riddle on my first guess.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:21 AM on November 13, 2005

Awesome post...the last linked picture on the erotica page is a fine, relatively SFW art photograph...I wish I could get it in poster size.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 8:34 AM on November 13, 2005

Very cool. I actually learned to type on a 1927 Royal Portable. My mother, the Luddite that she is, refused to use an electric typewriter until the late eighties. To this day I type very hard, even on my poor thinkpad because my fingers still think that I have to slam the key down hard enough to impress the type on the page. You had to have super-strong pinkies to use that machine since the shift key didn't drop the type down, it actually raised the carriage up. It must have been a seriously well built little machine since I was using it in high-school in the early eighties when it was over fifty years old. I don't think that my thinkpad will be in use in 2055.
posted by octothorpe at 8:56 AM on November 13, 2005

*awards gold star to Slack-a-gogo*

Now, shush!

posted by carter at 8:59 AM on November 13, 2005

I still beat the crap out of my computer keyboard because of years of writing on a mid-30's Royal. There's nothing like the satisfaction of driving the letters home on a well-oiled mechanical contrivance.

I still have the Royal, a mid-20's Underwood, and a 1917 Oliver. I'll be keeping them in my attic, safely hidden against the day when The Man comes and takes my Mac away.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:22 AM on November 13, 2005

Very impressive, though I have to admit that I first read "pre-Cambrian typewriters" as "pre-Columbian typewriters" and was even more impressed.

Also, give me my gold star, too.
posted by taz at 9:45 AM on November 13, 2005

My portable 1929 Underwood still inspires better writing for me. There's something about the smell of the oils when I open the cover that triggers the brain...

Now, that was my second typewriter (my sole one now), but for years I had to fight 'donations' from people who thought of me when they saw old typewriters in their attic which were broken, thinking my love of the machines surely must extend to all.

great links, though. thanks.
posted by Busithoth at 10:43 AM on November 13, 2005

Gold stars for everyone!
posted by carter at 10:56 AM on November 13, 2005

I found four words -- do I get four gold stars?!!

Great post. The Swedish Writing Ball is fabulous, and looks like it might actually be quite comfortable. I wonder if they make one with a USB interface?
posted by chrismear at 12:09 PM on November 13, 2005

That Hansen Writing Ball is really, really cool.

Bonus riddle: Find a common ten-letter word that can be typed using only the top row of a typewriter keyboard ...

Impossible. There are no vowels on the first row of a typewriter. (OK, a semi vowel exists in the 'r' and maybe the 'l,' but good luck using that and 'p' 'y' 'f' 'g' 'c' to make a 10 letter word in English. ;-)
posted by teece at 12:15 PM on November 13, 2005

I've spent a number of hours poring over the details of each typewriter in their collection - there's something about writing machines that I find fascinating. I suppose that's why I have six of them scattered about my living room.

While I covet just about everything in the museum, I've been looking for a Chicago machine for years. I scour thrift stores and small town antique shops whenever I can, but have been unsuccessful thus far.

Anyway, I thought a Flickr group I started, Writing Machines, might be of interest to readers of this thread. If you've some images to share, please do!
posted by aladfar at 12:22 PM on November 13, 2005

History of Russian typewriters.
posted by languagehat at 12:26 PM on November 13, 2005

Japanese typewriters and how to use them ...

Cool group, aladfar - we actually have an Olivetti Valentine, must get around to photographing it ...
posted by carter at 12:50 PM on November 13, 2005

I've got an Underwood 5 that was my grandparents'. Beautiful.
posted by amro at 2:08 PM on November 13, 2005

FYI: The writing ball is Danish, not Swedish.
posted by lazy-ville at 9:28 PM on November 14, 2005

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