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New typewheels for the Blickensderfer typewriter

by | Jan 24, 2023 | Blickensderfer | 19 comments

You are looking at a revolution in retro writing technology.

Those who know antique typewriters will recognize this as a typewheel for a Blickensderfer (“Blick”), invented by George C. Blickensderfer and made in Stamford, Connecticut. This design was made in several models from 1894 to about 1919. (See the details on The Typewriter Database). It features interchangeable typewheels, a three-bank keyboard (usually arranged in the “Scientific” layout with the most common letters on the bottom row), and inking by roller.

The design was briefly revived by Remington as the Rem-Blick (aka Baby Rem), mostly manufactured in 1928. But for nearly a century, Blicks have been “obsolete” collectors’ items and curiosities.

Here are some Blicks I’ve had in my collection over the years.

no. 5 (Polish DWIAMENSOR “Scientific” keyboard)
no. 6 (aluminum, QWERTY)
no. 7 (English DHIATENSOR “Scientific” keyboard)
no. 7 (aluminum, DHIATENSOR)
no. 8 (aluminum, DHIATENSOR)
no. 9 (DHIATENSOR)
Home Blick (DHIATENSOR)
Rem-Blick (QWERTY)

Blicks are very clever, but also relatively slow and tiring compared to a typebar typewriter. If only it were easy to find a Blick Electric, a 1902 model (available in a few variants) that anticipated the IBM Selectric! But these machines are extremely rare.

But let’s get back to that revolution in retro writing technology:


This is a brand new, made in 2023, interchangeable type element for Blicks. Not only that, but it is equipped with a typeface that was never available for Blicks before: Steile Zierschrift, a decorative type, as pictured here in the 1928 Ransmayer-Rodrian (RaRo) catalogue.

And here’s a new typewheel that features an extremely rare italic Remington typeface designed by the famous Frederic Goudy. (This one has been used, so there’s ink on it.)

They even come in their own neat containers with screw-on tops.

But do they really work? 

Yes, they do work!

The new typewheels use the font design skills of Brent Carter and the 3D printing wizardry of Leonard Chau. This is the most precise 3D printing I’ve personally seen — there’s no “pixelation” on these small, fine shapes. They’re available in several more typefaces, and either in the Blick DHIATENSOR layout or in QWERTY. (QWERTY seems most likely to be found on the aluminum model 6.)
Here are some wheels getting cured after 3D printing. Yes, you see script and Vogue!
Maybe your Blick needs a little attention before it’s ready to type. Do you need ink rollers? Buy a box of gun cleaning felts (7mm) and ink them with Bates Numbering Machine ink. Are your feed rollers flat? Recover them with automotive tubing or heat shrink tubing.
Now are you ready to order your own new typewheels? Leonard Chau can be reached via email (leonard.chau@yahoo.com), Instagram (@blick_elements), or Facebook (Leonard Chau).
Backward and onward!

(Video by Leonard.)
 

 

19 Comments

  1. Mitchell

    Most excellent. Again.

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    Richard,
    I'm so pleased to think there will be at the least a minor resurgence of typing on these wonderful little machines. DHIATENSOR rules!

    Reply
  3. Armando Warner

    Esta rueda Blick, ¿Cómo logra coincidir con la letra que se oprime? Imagino que tiene una muesca que coincide con el poste de fijación, y que la configuración mecánica hace lo necesario.

    Reply
  4. Kevin Stallaert

    After the "Hermes Hanks tax", we'll soon see the "Blick Leonard & Brent tax"!

    Reply
  5. Anonymous

    Nice! Do you have a suggestion for rubber replacement feet for a Blick 5?

    Reply
  6. Armando Warner

    ¡Vaya que sí es complicado! Quizá Leonard nos lo explicaría simplificado, con manzanas.

    Reply
  7. Anonymous

    How much are they selling for, please?

    Reply
  8. Ted

    Ha! Love it! Now someone needs to do 88-Char IBM Typeballs with custom typefaces. :D

    Reply
  9. Richard P

    I have never replaced them, sorry.

    Reply
  10. Richard P

    You'll need to ask Leonard.

    Reply
  11. Richard P

    I tried the QWERTY element on my Rem-Blick and it was not aligned. It turns out that the Remington typewheels are a little shorter in their axis than the Blick typewheels! So the writing is perfectly readable, but the caps and figs are not on the same level as the lowercase letters.

    Reply
  12. Richard P

    Yes, you can. I got the Zierschrift and Goudy in QWERTY to use on my Blick 6.

    Reply
  13. Anonymous

    Great work! Now for Hammond shuttles, and as Ted states, IBM balls, especially the rare ones.

    Reply
  14. Anonymous

    Or Maybe QWERTY on a 1898 Blick 7

    Reply
  15. David Brechbiel

    Many collectors are going to dust off their Blick and give it some long overdue love. I too agree that Hammond Shuttles, Selectric Elements might not be far behind. Thanks, Richard, for giving them a notice … Brent and Leonard have worked many hours perfecting this product.

    Reply
  16. Anonymous

    So can you can get QWERTY wheels as well? Did I miss that?

    Reply

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