Cast of Characters

In order of appearance:

  • Brother Charger 11 – Upon deciding to get back into typewriters, this little blue guy appeared as a beacon gleaming from a shelf in a Salvation Army thrift store. Thanks to a half-off sale, my first typewriter purchased in the Great Revival was a mere $10. Being my only manual typewriter, this puts me in the lower echelons of the typoshere. And frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. [Thanks, Clark Gable!]
  • Smith-Corona SL 480 – This very well could be the same model as my first-ever typewriter from the Original Era. Or my second. It certainly looks like either. These big, grey beasts all do look kind of the same, though. Still sporting the $14.99 price sticker, this guy was so clean, I had to assume he works like a charm. If I ever get around to ordering the necessary H series ribbon, I’m sure my assumption will prove correct. Ultimately, he will be put to work in a library program, as I wouldn’t be devastated if some kid threw a tantrum on this typer.
  • Sears Scholar SR3000 – Another thrift store typer tagged with a $14.99 price, this beige boy was my first electric with a fabric ribbon! Combining the power and consistency of an electric with the classic look of the old typebar-sporting manuals, there is some charm to this otherwise studious-looking typer. The drop caps glitch actually makes for a quirky, fun impression, with the tops of capital letters aligned to the tops of their lowercase counterparts. Hipsters and crafters alike would pay big money for this “feature”.
  • Sharp PA-1050 – This was all Joe Van Cleave‘s fault. He put me on the path to finding a thermal typewriter, and this poor guy popped up in a “for sale” app at just $25. With a faulty print head, I can only assume something happened during shipment, as the previous owner–the original owner–said it worked perfectly. It has since been a major source of frustration, and ultimately led to all the other thermal typers in my collection. If it wasn’t for my obsession with trying to get the print head to work, this one would go bye-bye. Update: I really have no idea how, other than a bit of fiddling, but he’s fixed! So he may have found a more permanent place in my collection after all.
  • Silver-Reed EXD10 – Hailing from the distant lands of eBay, this thermal typer came with the disappointing limitations of being stuck in 1½ line spacing and equally stuck in line-printing mode (as opposed to character-printing mode, my preference for a more traditional typing experience). The nearly-charming print quality takes one back to the days of dot matrix printers. Given the unknown-to-me brand, along with the print quality and function issues, this typer will likely be rehomed when the time comes. That’s $30 I wish I had back.
  • Smith-Corona Electra 120 – The next best thing to a manual typewriter, this greenie almost became my biggest regret. I initially passed on the whopping $40 price tag at the antique mall. I wasn’t far out of the parking lot when the doubts started creeping into my mind. Alas, I didn’t turn back. But destiny stepped in when this very typewriter appeared in a “for sale” app. The seller kindly put the typer on hold for me and I bought it two days later. With a new ribbon, this boy makes a powerfully consistent–and loud–imprint. No early morning typing for you, sir!
  • Canon Typestar 5 – This just might be the Holy Grail of thermal typewriters, and the $50 it cost to secure this guy could very well be the best Ulysses I ever spent. He’s clean, practically new, and fully-functional. I cannot explain how exciting it is to be able to type with no ink required! And the touch of the keys on this guy rivals the AlphaSmart Neo2. Word on the street is that this isn’t even the best in the Canon family of thermals, making me want to collect the whole series. Yikes!
  • Brother EP5 – The latest and final(?) thermal added to the collection, this one is super-clean, has a dark imprint (burn?), and sports a nice pica typeface. My first shopgoodwill.com win, at $30.50 this was a great bargain. The cover is scratched and dirty, but TLC can deal with that… someday. One mustn’t be too vain. Now to find a home for the PA-1050 and EXD10…
  • Royal Futura 800 – After hearing good things about this typer, I knew I wanted–needed one in my collection. A last second bid on eBay totaling $80 with shipping brought this two-tone grey beauty with red accents home to me. Complete with a dark tan leatherette case, key, and home-made replacement handle, after cleaning this boy up, he is likely to become a favorite. The ribbon has a surprisingly dark imprint, and this machine sports a nice elite typeface. Watch his homecoming here.
  • Royal Quiet De Luxe – At $100 including shipping from shopgoodwill.com, this was another must-have for the collection. Dressed in brown with green keys, this charmer will need a good cleaning before becoming another favorite. He’s not as perfect as the Futura, but I finally understand what a “quiet” typewriter sounds like.
  • Olivetti Lettera 25 – Although this is the Olivetti no one wants, he is a solid, no frills kind of guy in light taupe with compact, white keys. Still a bit of a good deal at $43 from shopgoodwill.com, it’s nice to finally add a new brand to the collection. The plastic body can be forgiven because he comes in a bag with a shoulder strap… and racing stripe! Strangely, this is by far the deepest typewriter I own considering how short and compact the keys are. My best guess is they needed to add on a chunk of plastic behind the carriage for it to stand on as it rests vertically in its soft bag?
  • Smith-Corona Sterling – At $34.99 on shopgoodwill.com, this boy was quite the bargain. Coming in an incredibly large box, I had very real fears he would have been damaged in shipment. But every shopgoodwill experience has been great so far, with ample amounts of bubble wrap protecting the machines during shipment. So much so, in fact, that it often takes a significant amount of time to free them of their bubbly armor. Initially, the typebars seemed sluggish, at best. But this is at least the second instance of a typewriter settling into functional form shortly after arriving.
  • Canon Typestar 4 – I was thrilled to add another Typestar to the family. I truly think I want to collect them all. Fortunately, compared to manual typewriters, it’s easy to find a bargain on these, and the $25 I spent on shopgoodwill.com for this one was no exception. Aesthetically, there is little if any difference between the 4 and 5. The whole line is consistent in its design and layout. I continue to be curious to see the evolution of these thermal typers.
  • Royal Companion – This gunmetal guy is the first true ultra-portable in my collection, so I was happy to pay the $87 on shopgoodwill.com. But don’t let his small size fool you. He’s built like a tank, but is sporty enough for the likes of James Bond. He offers a snappy typing experience, and sports a compact pica typeface, if such a thing is possible. (Are you sure it’s not elite?)
  • Canon Typestar 10-II – I was thrilled to pick up this later model in the Typestar family (there are no less than 15 in the line) for $35 on OfferUp. Being just my second experience having a typewriter shipped (vs picked up locally) on there, I was incredibly disappointed to see how it was packed: several sheets of crumpled newspaper, one tiny piece of bubble wrap, and a small, oddly-shaped piece of foam. Needless to say, pieces had come off, which I was able to put back on, but nevertheless, it was DOA. After contacting the seller, she assures me she has another one which she will ship. Fingers crossed. UPDATE: The seller had included the wrong power cord. IT’S ALIVE!
  • Brother EP43 – What a disappointment! Out of the several thermal typers I’ve tried, this is the least intuitive. Even something as simple as setting the margins was confusing. And no character-by-character mode? It’s unfortunate that this battery doorless boy didn’t come with a manual. Perhaps all would become clear. But as it stands, this $18 investment from shopgoodwill.com won’t be staying in the collection.
  • Singer T-62 – Who says Singer only made sewing machines? This $35 eBay find is probably the dirtiest typer added to the collection yet, but promises to be a solid typewriter. In light grey and ivory, this guy was probably quite stylish in his day, with a concave keyboard. He has margin buttons suspiciously similar to the Royal’s Magic Margins, and refers to tabs as “columns”. This could be a keeper, if only for the name.
  • Remington Envoy – At $84 on eBay, I knew I had to add this typer to the collection. It’s easily the oldest in my collection, likely from the early 40’s, and sports an open segment and visible spools. Such a thing was high up on my wishlist, as the open design makes the typebars and ribbon part of the architecture. Described by the seller as being in “great” condition, I must disagree as the platen alone will need a deep cleaning, and the margins may need some work. This gentleman dates from when the typewriter used the bottom of the case as a base. I would love to get him to a point of being placed in heavy rotation. He’s a fine machine.
  • Olivetti-Underwood Studio 44 – Oh my. Purchased from eBay for a total of $64.00, this poor soul may need the most work. Fortunately, because the description was not accurate, the final price after refund was $17.50! For that, I’m willing to put some elbow grease into this thing. When all is said and done, it has the makings of a good machine. But does anyone know how to get the moldy basement smell out of a case?
  • Casio Casiowriter CW-10 – I think I am officially the thermal typewriter specialist of the typoshere. Found on eBay for $27.12, a quick run-through of this guy revealed a surprisingly feature-rich typer. He also has the tiniest ribbon cassette I’ve ever seen. And yes, size does matter. Unless you don’t even bother using the cassettes, like me. Sadly, on the heaviest density, the print is not very dark, and the print quality is about a six out of ten. Nevertheless, the typeface is very different from the other, vaguely similar to Times New Roman, so that will make this a keeper. I’ll just have to get past the cumbersome method for loading the paper.
  • Olympia Werke X-L12 – Oh no, not again. This sharply dressed young man–distinctive white with a dark grey ribbon cover–“featured” the same drop-caps of the Sears Scholar SR3000. One drop-caps typer can be fun to use once in a while. But I had high hopes for a good typing experience with this retro-modern, late 70’s electric typewriter. So, after much frustration, this has survived my first attempts at repairs. Repairs. Plural. First, I tried to fix the shift alignment. In the process, I instead unfixed the escapement, completely locking the carriage. So after downloading and consulting the maintenance and repair manual, I fixed the escapement and the shift alignment. This was a fine $45 shopgoodwill.com purchase, after all.
  • Remington Quiet Riter – This is my first and only poorly packed typewriter from shopgoodwill.com, originally purchased for $34. After sharing my disappointment with them that multiple parts of the body are broken or missing, they quickly gave me a full refund. It’s currently half way out the door, as I’m tempted to just throw it away. But there’s that part of me that wants to make it work again, even if I have to turn it into a skeletal typer.
  • Sperry Rand (Remington) Streamliner – This turquoise boy has a story of heartbreak and triumph. Purchased from shopgoodwill.com for $33, Fedex declared him delivered… but he was nowhere to be found. A little investigation revealed RRAMON signed for the package. Uh oh. A stolen package? A call to Fedex confirmed it had been rerouted to a business address, but they said they couldn’t tell me the name of the business. Fearing it was some sort of Fedex employee scheme–such things have been suggested online–I filed reports with Goodwill, Fedex, and PayPal. Goodwill needed to contact Fedex so they could release details of the whereabouts of the package, but Goodwill customer service was closed for the weekend. I decided it was a lost cause and hoped I would get a refund, one way or another. But on Monday, Goodwill said the package was available for pickup at Walgreen’s. And sure enough it was there. Home at last, he’s a snappy typer, but cheaply made. Nevertheless, he’s one of the most handsome little typers in my collection.
  • Olympia Splendid 66 – After my offer for $50 was rejected on eBay, I was the only bidder and ended up winning this sleek ultra-portable at the opening bid of $60. Without a case, maybe I overpaid? But it doesn’t feel like it. Typing on this guy feels like a million bucks, with a heavy yet snappy touch. He needs a lot more cleaning, and a new ribbon, but I suspect he’ll get so much attention, he won’t need no stinkin’ case.