A closer look at the Continental typewriter

by | Apr 26, 2015 | Continental | 23 comments

The device at the top rear of the machine is the tabulator …

… which is set, cleared, and activated using this three-function lever:

Pure mechanical poetry … by the way, the carriage runs and returns silently and smoothly.

The control above the dealer’s nameplate is mysterious. If you press the left side down, both sides go down, and you activate the margin release. (By the way, the right margin will stop typing but can still be bypassed by the spacebar or carriage release, on which point you can start typing again.) If you press the right side down, only that side is activated — to do what? I haven’t figured it out.

The front plate comes down to give access to the typebars, and
a decal in English provides the inch width of the necessary ribbon.


  1. Anonymous

    That right-side lever is to make an indent on the next line, similar to how the margin release on the Lettera 22 can perform that function. I have two of these Continentals but have yet to use an Underwood Standard. How do you find they compare?

  2. Bill M

    Sure is a neat typewriter. Thanks for the tour.

  3. Richard P

    Thank you!

    I find that the Underwood is a little less sophisticated, as noted above, particularly in that it lacks a silent carriage return — but the Underwood action feels a bit more snappy and satisfying to me.

  4. Ton S.

    Looks to be in very good condition up close.

  5. gee

    I was just typing on my Continental… and then I discover you had as well… "great minds" as they say. GEE

  6. Dwayne F.

    Love the detail on the mechanical bits. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Anonymous

    A very stately typewriter! (this comment posted on my work computer – my home computer comments never seem to get through)!!

  8. RobertG

    B?zonder fraai.

    (Indeed not rare here. Usually a few are listed any week on the local site. Often with the dual return levers.)

  9. rino breebaart

    Wow – a handy Dutch keyboard. I didn't realise these existed! Pffff – can't call myself a Dutchman, clearly. That IJ key would be very handy though, particularly as spelling them separately does look odd on the page. A very EU-friendly keyboard with those accents… rino

  10. Unknown

    One mystery solved! Intendig of line…
    I have three of these, models '31, '38, and '39 and still havent figured out what is purpose of two metal round buttons on left side of chassis. First one doesnt allow typebars to hit the platen and second one have something to do with ribbon and changing of colors. If someone knows it, please tell me. I have the oldest one two years on my desk next to notebook and it is such a shame, that i dont know. What I'll do when someone asks me?

  11. Richard P

    Good question. I don't understand them myself!

  12. Unknown

    I have checked the two less old machines, and it looks like the farther button stads for "white" ribbon option. With it's activation, the both colour buttons on the front are stucked in the middle ot their ussual movement, and the ribbon vibrator is out off duty.
    After setting of that button back, ribbon is still set to "white" and one of the colour buttons must be pressed to reset the colour changing mechanism.
    My '31 obviously needs some maintenance, because it is not working propperly, that is why I was confused before.

    But still, the socond button, why is needed function to lock typebars? Maybe it is a child lock… I don't have any better idea.

    Finally I must say that I love this Continental standard model. I like it's easy maintenance, 20 seconds to remove platten, 10 seconds to take down whole carriage, very neat mechanism of changing ribbon direction and the design is simple, but I find it very elegant (mainly older models with more massive front part of the chassis)
    I have lot of different typewriters, I love them too, but when it comes time to actually write something, Continental is my only choice…

  13. Richard P

    OK, yes. So the rear button is for typing stencils (no ribbon). The front button locks the typebars, as you said. Maybe one would want to do this to prevent children from using the machine, as you suggested; or it might be a good thing to do during transportation. Odd!

  14. Unknown

    Hi everyone, thanks for such an interesting blogpost and comment thread. I have learned so much about this machine through you. I have a small problem with mine, though. When I lifted it, the carriage slid to the right and locked in place, and I can't seem to unlock the carriage and get it to work. Is there a lever that I need to press to unlock the carriage, which is now permanently stuck in the far-most right position? Any help would be deeply appreciated ! :)

  15. Richard P

    That's rather mysterious. I don't see why there would be a reason for the typewriter to lock the carriage all the way in the right position. Does margin release help? You might also ask for help on the Facebook group Antique Typewriter Collectors, or the Yahoo group TYPEWRITERS.

  16. Dawn, Ed & Evelyn

    I just picked up a continental and it only types a half page. The carriage stops moving. Looking underneath there is a bolt on the bar that stops the carriage. It looks permanent and not adjustable. Any thoughts here? I would hate tonthibknthis was a design feature and not adjustable. Any thoughts?

  17. Richard P

    That does not sound normal. You should be able to set the margins using the margin stops in front of the carriage.

    I have found that this kind of problem is simple once you see what is causing the problem, but it may be difficult to find the cause. Maybe the bolt you are seeing is not really the cause. But I can't say without inspecting the typewriter in person. I hope you can figure it out!

  18. Unknown

    Hi there, nice article :) i have also 1939 continental standard, but mine has few additional keys in front of chasis. it's mostly numbers like 10, 100, 10000, 1 milion, etc… i am struggling to find out what's their purpose. any ideas gentlemen ?

  19. Richard P

    Hi Marcel, That is a decimal tabulator. Its purpose is to create columns of numbers that are aligned on the decimal point. For instance, if you want to enter the number 456.78, you hit the 100 key and the tabulator will stop 3 spaces before the decimal point.


    Hi all of you!

    I am a proud owner of a Continental Standard typewriter made 1937.

    When I cleaned it last week with high pressure air I unfortunately lost the drawband includind the clip that attaches it to the mainspring.

    Have googled as hell but cant find an answer to
    • Whats the approx length of original drawband
    • How is it fastened to the mainspring

    Any of you care to post a picture and measure lenght of the band?

    Would be highly appreciated. Want to start writing christmas cards :-)


  21. superfixe

    my dear friends who share the same taste as I for these old typewriters
    A good day to everyone is what I want.
    I'm here in the attempt and hope that someone can tell me where I can get a keyboard button for my machine
    I have a "continental" missing you a button I would like to complete
    I think it's from 1937/38.
    Thank you imformacoes. A good one for everyone. Thank you very much.
    my email. fixesuperfixe@gmail.com

  22. Unknown

    Hello, I can't seem to find the serial number on mine can someone tell me where to find it.

  23. Richard P

    I have sold this typewriter, and unfortunately don't recall where the serial number is located.


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