Thursday, October 28, 2021

My Favorite Brother Typewriter: The Wards Signature 511D with Auto Repeat

I bought my first typewriter again, only 356 serial numbers later. Perhaps they were made on the same day, around the same time my parents were making me in 1971.

The Wards Signature 511D has all the fancy features of a manual typewriter. The rubber stills feels fresh. Its Pica typeface is straight and even. The paper injector always rolls in the sheets perfectly aligned. The Brother JP-3 is one of my favorite manual typewriters.
Unfortunately this one was not packed well and its case suffered the brunt of the damage. Luckily the typewriter survived with only bent metal levers on top and a cracked spacebar attachment. The metal arms of the spacebar were severely bent inward, but I was able to reform them well enough to work properly.
I saved another typewriter! Hopefully it will live to type more tales for 50 more years.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

SCM Smith-Corona Classic 12 with Sight-Saver #30

Yeah, baby!  I found another 6-CPI machine.  Now I have 3 out of the 4 Smith-Corona large typefaces. This makes typewriter #47 for me, and I've only been collecting for 14 months.  I am truly obsessed.

More details on Typewriter Database.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Typewriter Under the Blue Sky

As I was working on the October 10th Typewriter Club Live typing prompt, "If I could take my typewriter anywhere..." it began to sound like a song, so I played with it. I shared the beginnings on our Sunday morning chat about three hours in. Then later that day I banged out the rest. I've never written such a song so quickly. It's amazing what typewriters can inspire us to do!

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Origami and Typewriters

    There are many different ways to fold a little book from one sheet of paper. Here are my two favorite easy methods, though technically they are not true origami because of the cutting. The square one is a little more complex than the rectangular one, but both are simple enough for a beginner. An internet search will provide lots of tutorials of many types of creative origami books.
    The rectangular one is easy, and scrap may be used since the back of the paper doesn't show in the book.  Fold first, add the content, and then do the cutting.  Cutting the paper before inserting it into a typewriter makes it more likely to get caught in the rollers.  Here's is a printable booklet on how to make the booklet .  Simply expand the image to print all the way to the edge of the paper and follow the folding instructions.

    The square book is a little more complex to fold and requires a perfectly square sheet, ideally with colored and white sides.  The colored side of the paper become the front and back covers, and the inner pages are white.  The inner pages can be tacked with their backs together, or pulled out like a centerfold to reveal the decorative backside of the paper, where creative additions can be attached.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

My First Typewriter in Decades

     The homebound summer of 2020 made me antsy for some excitement beyond my usual yarn and fabric adventures.  I sewed face masks, knitted a couple lampshades, learned some guitar tunes, and filled my old calligraphy pens to journalize in pretty words.  Occasionally I'd look up to the photo of my grandmother holding me as a toddler, reading me a bedtime story.  I have fond memories of her office where she wrote everything on typewriters until she sold her IBM Selectric when her vision went bad and had to switch to computers with large fonts.  Eventually something clicked and I could almost hear her shouting at me from heaven, "Get a typewriter already, Mei!"

    I first went to a local office store that had a typewriter department.  Sadly I learned that area was long gone after the patriarch died several years ago and took all the knowledge with him while his children sold the typewriters and successfully expanded the electronic equipment sales.  An internet search resulted in absolutely no typewriter anything in Arkansas.  Amazon and Walmart had a few new models but at surprisingly high prices for what looked like clunky plastic machines.  I'd seen typewriters in vintage shops and flea markets but never in nice enough condition for a novice to instantly start typing.  

    Not sure exactly where to begin my hunt, I turned to the trusted Goodwill where I've found many of my beloved vintage sewing machines at bargain prices.  With superb quality at lower costs, department store models like Sears and Montgomery Ward can't be beat and so it made sense the same would apply to typewriters.  I battled with a few other auctioneers over the shiny photos and won both for about $60 each.  While waiting the two weeks for them to arrive, I scoured the internet for more information and quickly found a wonderful typewriter collector community through blogs, YouTube, and Facebook.  Now I know both my "new" typewriters are made by Brother of Japan, the same company that made four of my favorite sewing machines.

      Making typewriter friends has been just as enjoyable as finding and using the machines themselves.  Typewriter people tend to be more intelligent, intellectual, and articulate than average, most likely because people who love typewriters enjoy both reading and writing.  The Typosphere community consists of collectors, technicians, aficionados, artists, writers, and more who all share one philosophy:  Typewriters are important!

    It's hard to believe that for the past 25 years I used zero typewriters as computers became all the rage. After I donated my one and only in 1997, the simple delight of instantly printing to paper slowly became a fading memory.  It took a pandemic to wake me up from years of technology overload, and I've pleasantly rediscovered the peaceful clickity-clack of my thoughts and feelings feeding into a machine that doesn't tell me how to think and spell.

    Two months in, my collection grew to 18 functional typewriters, eight of which are made by Brother.  They've become my accidental favorites, because they're so common they're fairly inexpensive and so sturdy they've held up nicely over the years.  I love my first Ol' Blue so much I ended up getting three more fraternal twins. They were made in 1967 (Script), 1969 (Elite), 1970 (Script), and 1971 (Pica).  My JP-1 ultra-portables were made in 1979, 1984, 1985, and my groovy aqua plastic one is from 1976, all Pica.  With a little tweaking and cleaning they almost perform like a brand-new typewriters.

    The history of typewriters is just as fascinating as the machines themselves.  They're a huge part of the revolution into the modern world, yet the the number of folks who actually use and repair them have dwindled since the computer and internet era began.  However those numbers have been slowly increasing as people are shifting towards using less technology in their personal lives.  The high-quality typewriters of yesteryear are no longer produced and therefore in limited supply, so I snagged several to insure my lifetime supply just in case they all get snatched up.

    On this blog I plan to review every single one of my typewriters in chronological order of acquisition, post various typewritten samples of work, and share interesting relevant information.  This will be a constant work-in-progress and labor-of-love, but eventually I'll have a helpful and enjoyable blog to share with all the other typewriter aficionados as well as hopefully convince the everybody else to hunt for and save all the old typewriters.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Sears w/ Correction, a 1984 Brother JP-1

    My little Japanese ultra-portable is all shiny and clean and just needs fresh ribbon. No manual but easy enough to operate. This Sears w/ correction, model 268.5200, is a Brother JP-1 from 1985.  It is one of my favorite lightweight yet sturdy bare-bones ultra portable. I left the ribbon sticker on for a few weeks before finally cleanly removing it. However I left the previous info on the bottom of the typewriter.

    This is Delores E. Jarbone. I found her contact info on the bottom of the typewriter and so I researched to find her obituary. Apparently the family did not want her old typewriter, so it wound up at an Iowa Goodwill store where I won it in an online auction. Sometimes it makes me sad when people give away treasures after loved ones have passed, but I don't dwell too much because that is how us collectors get typewriters!

    Dolores Jarboe, 89, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, passed away at Hiawatha Care Center on July 19, 2020. Dolores was born in Carroll, Iowa, on Nov. 9, 1930, to Samuel and Elizabeth (Neuerberg) Trigg. Survivors include her four children, Richard (Marilene) Julich, Daryl (Leslie) Julich, Rowanne (Rick) Glawe and Jacqueline (Gregg) Carpenter; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Dolores is preceded in death by her parents; her loving husband, Walter Jarboe; and three siblings, Marney, John and Wes. Per Dolores's request, there will be no services. Donations may be sent to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. Online condolences may be directed to the family at under obituaries.

    From my post at Antique Typewriter Collectors:

    "I'm posting just the pics for now from my phone. Later I'll boot up the computer to add all the details of my second chapter of Adventures in Typewriter Repair Land."

Friday, August 14, 2020

Typewriter Repair of Sears w/ Correction

Workshop selfies! 😃
What are you working on?

Details later once I fix it this ultra-portable. No help please. I want to figure it out myself. Old machines are my crossword puzzles.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

My First Post in Antique Typewriter Collectors FB Group

    Antique Typewriter Collectors

    Hi all! Thanks for including me. I just entered the rabbit hole with my first vintage, a Montgomery Ward 511D.

    I learned to type in 9th grade on a big heavy manual. Wish I knew the brand/model because it'd be fun to collect one of those. My dad had a huge electric and us kids used a manual blue plastic one. It's now long gone, hence why I chose the color, but wisely in metal instead. 

    I knew it'd need a little work and fresh ribbon. I blew out the dust and wiped down the platen. The shift-lock key was cracked and popped off. Will super glue be ok?
The only problem is that the lower case letters ride above the line. Please tell me there's an adjustment screw to calibrate this?

    On another note, I also have a small collection of vintage sewing machines and a weaving loom that I've restored and they all work beautifully. I've got enough tools and wit to fix old typewriters, and looking forward to learning more about them. I love vintage stuff!

    The solution:

    EDIT: I fixed it. Yay!

My Favorite Brother Typewriter: The Wards Signature 511D with Auto Repeat

I bought my first typewriter again, only 356 serial numbers later. Perhaps they were made on the same day, around the same time my parents w...