London typewriter hunt

by | Jul 24, 2013 | London, safari | 20 comments

A report on a July 16 adventure …

The street name plaque is dated 1778.

Esselte Compact 350, made in Italy.
Reminiscent of a cheap Olivetti.
Who has more information?
Machines currently for sale at Type

Machines currently in for repair

= £ )

Other shops in the area sell lots of vintage clothes, but some are glorious heaps of miscellanea.
Can you find a typewriter in the photo above?
I couldn’t.
But there certainly is one in the photo below. 
It was gloriously adorned with DO NOT TOUCH signs and
taped-on notes. Obviously a workhorse.

This item in a store devoted to Lomography
has the right slogan.

Rob Bowker and I will be returning to this neighborhood on Thursday.


  1. Ton S.

    Interesting hunt, lots of curios. Thanks for sharing.

    The Esselte Compact resembles Lettera 35 a little bit, although the latter is not "cheap Olivetti." Is it plastic?

    Lomo – "the future is analogue." Oh yeah!

  2. Ted

    Re: the Esselte Compact 350, I'm gonna predict that it turns out to be a Brother in a fancy Olivetti shell. The type guide, key placement and carriage features are classic 1980's Nagoya.

    Huzzah for the Revolution! Public typing amid a sea of smartphones at a train stop with your Kolibri, beautiful. Can't wait for the Type-in reports! :D

  3. Ted

    Heh, or maybe I just have Brother on the brain lately. :P

  4. rn

    Have you tried GUMTREE.COM? Of course it ain't the same as a cool store, but there are some interesting machines for sale by individuals around town. There's an Olympia Model 8 (massive & excellent desktop machine) for 25 quid (http://www.gumtree.com/p/for-sale/vintage-typewriter-1930s-olympia-mod-8/1025477439) and an odd 3-bank Imperial desktop (http://www.gumtree.com/p/for-sale/vintage-typewriter-1930s-olympia-mod-8/1025477439), also for 25.

    When I was in London a few years back, I stupidly passed on a rusted, cobwebby YOST 10, advertised on Gumtree for 30 quid. I've been kicking myself ever since.

    Rob in NYC

    PS: Lomography? Did I miss something? Am I daft? Since when did plain old photography need a new name? Or is it something different?

  5. Ton S.

    Ted, I think you're right about Nagoya.

  6. Richard P

    It does look Brotherish! Made in Italy, though.

  7. Richard P

    Wow, 3 banks, you're right! Maybe a telegrapher's mill. It is still too big for me to lug home, though, I think.

    I have bought a Good Companion 3 on ebay UK and hope it will be delivered here as a souvenir in time before I have to leave in a week.

  8. Rob Bowker

    Pretty sure Esselte either is or was a stationery supplier, so might well be a rebrandes something or other. You found some great dives. See you at 2. Also, slight change of plan. I'll be the retro hipster with the green Antares Parva case, I'll leave the Olivetti at home.

  9. Unknown

    I love Type's sign–was the name stenciled?

    And also the last picture. Street art of any kind os fascinating.

  10. Robert Messenger

    Excellent post, thank you for this. Like Ted, I first thought Brother when I saw the Esselte, too, but also wondered whether it might have been made under the Antares umbrella, given it looks so Olivetti-ish. The carriage mechanism looks Antares, as does the colour selector switch. Or maybe Engadine, since many later Engadines, made in Italy, were identical to the Rovers etc coming out of China (which have Brother mechanics).

  11. Bill M

    Those are some interesting shops and they have typewriters too.

    Photo 12 looks like my garage and 13 looks like my radio room!

  12. TonysVision

    I've got a pretty good collection of film cameras, the favorite and Exacta VXIIa. I use them for film photography. I'm not sure what analog(ue) photography or (gasp) lomography are, altho I suspect it is used in the eternal attempt by young people to differentiate their activities from those of their parents. I know, I've been there. We all have. And if we haven't already, we will eventually realize that our parents were more original and creative than we had once suspected.

  13. Richard P

    Lomography takes off from a certain Russian camera:

    I think the spirit of it doesn't really depend on the camera, but on a sense of camaraderie, adventure, and a certain contrariness (pursuing the analog in a digital world). Not unlike the typosphere. If someone started making truly good new manual typewriters, a similar "brand-name insurgency" might begin in the typewriter world. I don't know whether that would be a good thing; it would partly commercialize our movement.

  14. notagain

    mine too but flip them – sadly…

  15. notagain

    What a great type hunt you had! Thanks for letting us tag along.

  16. maisiegoulsbra

    Thank you, this was helpful as I want a typewriter BAD, think I might have to visit type next time I go to Brick Lane!


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