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1939

by | Feb 8, 2021 | Remington, Underwood | 9 comments

Two neat typewriters from 1939 just dropped in my lap. 

This Remington was donated to WordPlay Cincy by a local woman. It had been in her brother-in-law’s family for generations. She was glad to drop it off on my porch (social distancing!) and I promised her it would go to a good cause.

You might say it doesn’t look like it was made in 1939, and you’d be right—it doesn’t. That’s because it was clearly refurbished in the 1950s, getting a modern tan (or gray, once I clean it?) wrinkle finish and a ’50s Remington Rand logo. But here’s what it originally must have looked like:
You can tell the early Remington no. 17s by the two little panels on top that flip up to provide ribbon access. All of these machines date from 1939. On later no. 17s, the whole top plate lifts off easily.

In case you’re wondering, here’s what the inside of the right flip-up panel says (it’s just the same on the machine I just got).

As for my other recent acquisition, it turned on eBay a couple of days ago (with the typo “PortableTypewriter” in the title). It was a Buy It Now for under $100 (a pretty small fraction of its market value). It was in Ohio, so it got to me quickly. It came with a user’s manual like this one, with the original owner’s name typed on it. (An obituary tells me that he served in the South Pacific in WWII and lived to the age of 94.)

This beauty is fully functional. It just needs a little cleaning and new feet. I haven’t added any typewriters to my personal collection for a while, so I’m tempted to keep this one side by side with my black and green Champions.
1939: horrible year for war and politics, good year for typewriters.

9 Comments

  1. David Brechbiel

    The late 1930s and the mid 1950s were the best years for typewriters. The years 1939 and 1956 have the most typewriters in my collection. I find the year 1939 to be one of the most interesting in the 20th Century.

    Reply
  2. Richard P

    I must have similar taste! Based on a quick look at my collection, my two most popular years are 1938 and 1957.

    Reply
  3. Bill M

    Beautiful Champion! Congratulations!

    Reply
  4. Bill G

    If only we could all know that the things we donate or otherwise part with were going to either to a good cause or to a good home (or ideally both) after leaving us. I really like that shade of red found on the machine you acquired via Ebay!

    Reply
  5. John Cooper

    I'm with you on 1939, David! Great year for movies, too.

    I've only got a small collection, but the years that are double-represented for me are '39, '47, and '55.

    Reply
  6. Ted

    This would be a keeper, I think, even though I am wary of Underwood portables. It is quite handsome :D

    Reply
  7. Robert Messenger

    Gorgeous Underwood, well done. Nice history to it, too.

    Reply
  8. Phil

    For some reason, my first glance of that Remington 17 reminded me of my year in an Army Finance office in Pusan, Korea, in 1953. Maybe we had some of them in our office? But they definetly did not have that little door to the ribbon. I would call that Champion "Candy Apple Red."

    Reply
  9. Richard P

    Thanks. Yes, the Champion looks good enough to bite into!

    Reply

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