Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Typewriter Movie - Five Days Left!!! (and market sightings)

So, I have been following the progress of Gary Nicholson and Christopher Lockett's movie project The Typewriter (in the 21st century) with some interest since word of it first spread around the typosphere several months ago. And I am rather jealous that Clemens got to have his day on camera, although I guess I can (sort of) understand that ye olde Schweiz is really far from the U.S., and I will have to settle for the occasional guest spot in Georg's amateur productions :-)

I have also been meaning to donate to their Kickstarter page, which was set up to raise a humble $20,000, with fantastic prizes for all levels of giving from $10 and up. Procrastinator that I am, today was the day I made my way over, and I was shocked to see that there are only FIVE days left! And while my pockets aren't deep enough to help them leap a great deal towards their goal (progress currently at 39%), I signed up nevertheless, a process much less painful than I had anticipated (Kickstarter processes payments through Amazon, where you probably have an account already). I cannot wait to receive my free swag - including a DVD with bonus features! - once the movie is funded and made. The catch is that - as I understand it - the funding goals will need to be met before the pledges are collected. If you haven't done so already, I would encourage you to take a look at the project and think about a donation within your means.

Now, on to a few market sightings from last week - a very productive day, but nothing special enough to warrant the purchase:

Olympia Splendid 66, precursor to the angular SF - beautiful little portable in great condition and I was tempted as always (despite having one already)... but then saved from temptation by the Italian QZERTY keyboard. Whew. Close shave.

Mid-50s grey Hermes Baby typewriter - we have the mint green version of this, and it is a great little typer, so I looked at it with keen interest. Not even to keep, myself, but these days I'm in the market for a Hermes Baby to send to one of my letter-writing pals :-) This came close, but no dice. For one, there were a couple of screws missing and I wasn't sure how easy those would be to find. The worst was that the one type bar you see slightly raised above the others was extremely bent at an awkward angle - there was no way to know if we could fix it without breaking it off entirely, and we decided not to take the risk.

Just a few feet away - another Hermes Baby! An earlier one this time, also grey, but with round keys. Not such a big fan of these ones to be honest; I've always found the square keys more comfortable to write with. I considered asking about this one too, but the paint was rather worn and the whole machine had a musty feel to it. I'd much rather keep looking for a green one anyway, so I walked on.

I think I've shown this Royal Flatbed already - still in the market last week, but it was better positioned so I could grab a good picture of it.

I try not to let myself get tempted by standard typewriters, but this Underwood 5 was a real beauty! Anyone know why the numbers 6 and 10 appear on the paper table? The keys were a bit stiff, but that is to be expected and nothing a careful oiling couldn't take care of. Decals and paintwork in very nice shape.

Olivetti Lettera 12 - one of the latest models Olivetti ever made, and I've always been intrigued by the tapered design; very mod. The huge glaring flaw is that it uses a proprietary ribbon cartridge, which you can see on the right of the type basket. Once that ribbon is spent, good luck trying to find a replacement! Bad move on Olivetti's part, if you ask me.

Non-descript Olympia electric, probably from the '80s. You know, when Rob asked me the other day if anyone noticed me taking pictures of typewriters at the market, I responded that they probably didn't. As I took a picture of this Olympia, though, a nearby seller yelled at me: "Five francs for the picture!" I looked back at him, "Huh?" "Yes," he said with a straight face, "Five francs!". Of course, I just shook my head and walked away. Even if I'd been a naive tourist, I'd have had to be very stupid to fork over money for taking a picture - and truth be told, 5 francs is more than the seller can probably hope to get for the typewriter, hence his frustration. I tried to laugh it off as one of those days. I'll be back next time, of course, taking more pictures. It is harmless, legal, and free - and the day these guys start barking at their customers is the day we all stop visiting, not just me.


  1. Five francs? Maybe you should have said "OK" and held out your palm. You should be charging him for the free advertising. I know if I walked your streets, I"d be penniless before long. I'd have to rescue too many typewriters from the pavement!

  2. Ha, I like Rob's idea!

    I believe that Underwood is a model 6 with 10-inch carriage.

  3. I enjoy the "catch and release" photos. Less stuff follows you home that way.

    I also try to ignore the office desk machines, but that Underwood is pretty sweet. I've admired more than a few office Royals, recently.

  4. My strict reglementations are "Nothing without case." But I'd have been tempted by the Royal flatbed.

  5. Does it really cost 20,000 to make a documentary like this??

  6. @Ryan: From what I understand, the funding covers not only production costs but also travel costs - even if they are only focusing on U.S.-based collectors, there is still quite a bit of distance to cover.

    The figure didn't strike me as unreasonably high (or low, your question is ambivalent) but then again I may be seeing it from a Swiss perspective (minimum wage is the equivalent of $25 an hr in Gva) and I'm not a filmmaker either. Still, 20k sounds just about right. I think.

    Anyway, I wouldn't want to start quibbling about figures - the point of this post was to alert readers who may not have been aware of the project/ saw it a while ago and perhaps forgot about it, and encourage them to give if they were so inclined.

  7. Any reason why all the typewriters shown above have an Italian keyboard?


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