Sunday, July 24, 2011

Did someone say gold?: Underwood Universal Golden Touch (1958)

Often overlooked, the Underwood Universal is an excellent typewriter that can hold its own against other highly-recommended workhorses like the Hermes 3000, Olivetti Studio 44 or Lettera 32, and Olympia SM-9.

Side profile: I've always liked the elegant swoop of the carriage lever on the Underwood Universal. The taupe color is not something that would normally catch my fancy, except for...

.. that striking gold panel! (*not real gold, but still pretty darn shiny :-))

On a separate note, we have not had a full day of sun for weeks now, so I am unable to take the usual photos in natural light. Fortunately, someone around here is handy with a fancy camera, tripod, and lights so I hope these new pictures will be as appreciated as the others were. (The orange background will return when the weather cooperates.)

I don't have many U.S.-made typewriters (the only other one being a'40s Smith Corona Clipper), so it is always a joy to welcome one into the collection. After all, many of my American typosphere colleagues have at least one Swiss-made Hermes, so it is only fair that I should try some of their fine innovations as well.

Like the other highly-acclaimed typewriters I mentioned in my first paragraph, the Underwood Universal (and possibly other Underwoods of the same generation) features a light basket shift,  and typing action that is fairly rapid and precise. Unlike the others, particularly the Hermes 3000 and Lettera 32, this has not achieved "cult status" and may still be acquired for a reasonable price. What are you waiting for? (*Not to be held responsible for driving up prices of post-war Underwoods henceforth.*)


  1. I've been eyeing this typewriter because it has that mod look. I've been seeing the blue-and-gold combo more than the gray-and-gold; yours is definitely the one to look for.

    Thanks for the info on its performance, happy to hear.
    A few notches up my wish list after reading your post.

  2. Very nice! I keep hoping to break this streak of finding only 60's SCM's at thrift stores and maybe find a 50's QDL or one of these 1950's Underwoods. Your glowing recommendation bumps the Underwood up my wish list, although I'll refrain from entering the Ebay and driving up the prices. :D

  3. @lo-tech: The one to look for is actually this one:
    Just like mine, but De Luxe!!! This means even more bling (a gold border around the keyboard), and fancy paper supports that mine is missing.

    @Ted: I think after reaching a certain point with collecting, it's hard to justify the expense and risk of shipping - especially as if you wait long enough, it'll crop up locally anyway. Just give it some time... it IS an American-made machine, after all, there must be a few of them nearby.

    @notagain: Thanks!

  4. To me, there's something very 'Thunderbirds' about it, the diamond plate fascia especially. I can imagine a few swithes and blinking lights could turn this into a communications device befitting Tracey Island. Looks like the back feet might need some work? It is a very pretty machine - I didn't know they even existed, so thanks for sharing.

  5. These are not the most popular machines in the typosphere, but I am glad to do my bit to bring them out of obscurity.

    I'll get around to posting more detail shots of this later - it had been stored in a damp place and was musty when we got it, with the keyboard covered in a mold-like white substance. I suppose the humidity must also have preserved the rubber parts, because the feet seem fine. I haven't had to re-shoe a typewriter yet, thankfully.

  6. @Rob: "Thunderbirds are GO!"
    Now I want to dig up my TB and Captain Scarlet tapes, ya bugger, you!

  7. wow this is great ! :) congrats for the fantastic typewriter and amazing photos !

  8. I just bought one of these yesterday (though yours is in nicer condition, and beautiful pictures!) and I am in love with it. I'll be typecasting with it soon.


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