Thursday, November 11, 2010

Olivetti Valentine S Red Portable Typewriter (1969)

How time flies! And I don't have the good excuse of hammering out a novel either, I have just been slacking off from the blog. Well, no better machine to come back with than one that is especially dear to us (and many others too), despite - well, because of - its screaming red hue and thoroughly plastic construction: the Olivetti Valentine.

When I first started out collecting typewriters earlier this year, my husband told me that he had grown up with a typewriter in his Italian home, a red plastic model that his father had won in a radio contest in 1969. Indeed, it was none other than ye olde Valentine. As the story went, my father-in-law composed his thesis on his brand new typewriter, and then stashed it away, unused except for the occasional envelope that needed addressing.

I had been looking forward to adding the family Valentine to our collection, but it appeared my mother-in-law had designs on it as well. So we let her have first dibs, and set about scheming on how to get one of our very own for the collection. As anyone who's looked at Valentine typewriter auctions will tell you, they tend to command rather high prices. Once, in a fit of blind frenzy, I bid more than 120 euros for a particularly appealing specimen. Fortunately, I was outbid. Whew.

This one was a lucky find. I think it was labeled just "red typewriter" or some such, and only my obsessive investigation of all the new auctions allowed me to discover that it was our much-sought after Valentine. Not a great specimen of it at that - one ribbon spool cover was missing (giving the machine the appearance of having been caught mid-wink), and there were a few black marks on the body that we were not sure could be removed. Luckily, those buffed right out in the end.

It took a while to get here from Germany, but eventually it did arrive and a deep and thorough scrubbing followed a reverent unboxing. Fortunately, it works fine - especially after we gave up on those cool orange ribbon spool covers (what I wouldn't give to find a matching set!) and settled for ordinary nuts, spares of which we were able to acquire in Italy. Mechanically, it's a solidly average - a bit of a rattle, as you would expect in such a plastic typewriter, and the usual Olivetti basket-shifted mechanism that was used in the Lettera 32, Dora, and many others.

But no one really gets a Valentine to write with... do they? Ours spends most of its time enjoying the ambiance in its handy red bucket... er, case.


  1. I have one of these and love it. I do type on it sometimes but compared to my Seimag or Corona Silent it's just not up to the speed nor does everything function very well.
    Mine is mint but still I have trouble with the paper curling up and going back down over the platen.
    Still its an iconic piece and deserves a place in every collectors home. Its no SM9 to type on but always fun :)

  2. Hey there! I also bought a Valentine today and it also had the left plastic cover missing. Do you know where you can get a replacement part? other modification maybe?

    1. Hi i have the same type writer and have all the parts and work still nice south africa pretoria 0719220900

  3. Hi. I've just bought one of these and love it. I'm trying to change the ink ribbon but can't get the orange spool covers off... is there a certain trick to it? Don't want to apply too much pressure incase I damage it. Any ideas? Thanks.

  4. Someone borrowed my Valentine 15 years ago and replaced the ribbon. And lost the orange covers! I do miss them...
    Bought mine back in -69 for money I won in a short stories competition, I was 18 and ever so proud of it.

  5. The orange spool covers are removed by screwing them counterclockwise. It can help to hold the black part of the spool with a pincer while screwing the orange part.

  6. Nice write up on a classic design. I collect, too, and have 17 of various vintages and styles, but to date didn't have a Valentine. Today, however, I do: found one at an auto shop meet, with the case, and it works. Hope no one has a heart attack when I tell you what I paid: $10.

  7. Hi. Does anyone have an instruction manual for the Valentine?

  8. Hi do you know any difference between Olivetti Valentine S and Olivetti Valentine? What I have found is that Olivetti Valentine S lacks the red button. But I don't know what the function of the red button is.

  9. Aah, the Valentine. I learned typing on one that belonged to my aunt. And a few years ago I snatched a pristine Olivetti Valentine at a flea-market for just ten Euros. That was when this model already fetched over one hundred on the evil bay. I still got that red plastic bomber and use it on a regular basis. Typing on it is like driving an old Fiat - you never know what happens next time the thing fails and needs to be repaired.

  10. You should take a look at this: you'll find exactly the part you're looking for for that Valentine of yours. You can thank me later. :)


Thanks for your comment! Please note that comments are moderated; so this will be posted as soon as I have read it :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...