Sunday, May 29, 2011

April and May Typewriter Sightings

I have been sulking a bit since I passed on getting a Remington Portable #1 (with the pop-up keys) after I tried to bargain with the flea market seller and he would not budge. I should have made an exception to my rule of not paying "full price" for anything in an open market - this was a lovely, working typewriter, not often seen, and fitting in with all my new "vintage vintage portable" aesthetic requirements. But I was stubborn, and so was he, and so I moved on. Without even taking a picture, apparently. I still have a few pangs of regret, but they're fading - although I would still like to find one of those someday.

That said, we're off tomorrow to Berlin for a couple of days, so before then I shall put up a few pictures of discoveries here and there I have been meaning to post.

 At the end of April, we made an excursion to Annecy in neighboring France to see what the fuss was all about - everyone we know touts it as a "must-visit" town, with stunning views and lovely architecture. It was just ok, methinks - the view is lovely, but living in Switzerland one does see an awful lot of lakes and mountains... so much so that my eyes just glazed over, really. It didn't look all that much different from the view in Geneva, or Lucerne, or Berne, or Zurich...

We only spent a couple of hours in Annecy, a tiny sleepy town, before beating a hasty retreat to Geneva. Fortunately, I had planned our visit to coincide with Annecy's monthly flea market, which I had high hopes for. Sadly, there was only one typewriter to be spotted: this handsome Continental standard. A decent sighting, but it didn't quite salvage the effort we had spent to get to Annecy.

I was slightly mollified to come across this stand devoted almost entirely to writing paraphernalia - dip pens, inks, ink wells, and starter kits. I didn't purchase anything, being up to my ears in this stuff already, but it was nice to see that there seemed to be such a strong interest in writing implements.

Another of my favorite objects had a strong showing: there were many varieties of globes.

Back to our local flea market, a couple of weeks after Annecy. We spotted this Underwood Champion nestled upside down in its box, all the better to show it off.

A Japy Script that had seen much better days, obviously crying out for a good soak in Evapo-Rust!

A forest-green Olympia SM-3 that evoked fond memories of the one I used to have.

A very interested potential buyer - I didn't stick around to see how it ended up, but she spent quite a good amount of time fiddling with the typewriter, so hopefully it found a new home with her.

A handsome Adler standard, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the Hermes Ambassador. I like how the keys are the same exact style and shape used on the '50s Tippas, which are about a fifth the size of this behemoth...

Just yesterday, we saw... a Rooy!!! How about that? A non-portable one this time, and with the dreaded azerty keyboard. But still, a very nice sighting - just look at those massive gull-wing ribbon covers.

Terrible picture, but I feel the need to prove that I actually saw a Royal Royalite in person, finally! I was tempted - it was after all portable and reasonably-priced - but the elite typeface and plastic body (I never knew these were plastic) dissuaded me.

Not pictured are various Hermes typewriters (as usual :D), or the Olivetti Lettera 32 that I came across while perusing a neighborhood garage sale yesterday. The owner was very eager to sell it, offering it for $8 (a very reasonable price, I might add) and swearing to its immaculate working condition. But it had one of those weak vinyl cases, and I sauntered on.... eventually coming across a lady selling an unused Nook Color, which I left with instead. (I know, I know. Sigh.)


  1. Thank you for posting pics, and you shouldn't skimp on the Hermes pics - show us some love! :D

    Your high resistance to this sort of temptation is admirable. Taking the pictures is an excellent substitute for owning them all. The spotting is the real thrill. (:

  2. Congrats on passing up all those gaudy typewriters. As you are someone for whom a visit to lovely Annecy just isn't worth if if all you see is one lousy Continental desktop machine, here's an anthem a Swiss friend passed on to me: I'm in Love With My typewriter, by the Bo Katzman Gang ( As catchy as that Rooy and Japy Script, I'd say.

  3. What fun window shopping.

    I've got to get one of those ultra-rounded Rooys someday.

  4. I always like your market posts. I'm looking for a small camera to carry all the time so I can do likewise. I think I'll haul out my green SM3 for a typecast...

  5. Goodness, typewriters grow on trees in your part of the world. I've never seen a single typewriter in flea markets I've been to here in Chicago. Or maybe it's a matter of timing.

  6. @Ted: Indeed, the thrill is in the spotting. Thankfully, only a few are truly tempting, and I resist by reminding myself of all the ones I do have that I seldom use.

    @Rn - Thanks for the link to the video! This is the first time I'm hearing of this, very catchy indeed - I like the clacking and bell ringing in the background :-)

    @Richard - I thought of you when I saw the Rooy! I saw myself hoisting it home and shipping it to you a la the Olivetti Graphika from Germany, but then I decided you probably wouldn't be so enthused with an azerty keyboard either.

    @notagain - I just use my cellphone camera most of the time, hence the questionable quality. That photo of the Royalite is truly cringe-worthy!

    @lotech - Indeed, I have better luck in Geneva than in other places I look - on the way back from Annecy, we stopped at the flea market (it was closing but there were still a few sellers) and managed to spot a couple of typewriters, so officially more than we had seen there! There's no point in going anywhere else... everything seems to come to us here. Luck, really.

    Well, Berlin here we come! The flea markets there are only on the weekend, so sadly I won't get to see any as we're back on Friday... but let's see if any typewriters cross my path nevertheless.

  7. To heck with the typewriters, I just want to hang around with you guys and take in that scenery! The view in Annecy looks wonderful. So lucky you are to live near the border of other countries.

  8. I just spent $400 on a typewriter much more common than the one you haggled over...consider yourself lucky you can go to flea markets and find so many for paltry sums! Should have bought it. Where I live, you don't see these things.


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