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Safari time!

by | Jul 3, 2015 | safari | 16 comments

It’s time for another safari to the antique mall, in search of Big Mechanographical Game. Let’s see what there is to see!
For fun, you can try to identify these typewriters, guess the price on them, and form your own opinion on whether you’d want them before you scroll down a little further to see my commentary. You can also click on each photo for a closer look.
ABOVE:
An Underwood (Model S?) from the 1940s (?). (No, I didn’t go to the trouble of looking up the serial numbers on all these machines. But it’s been helpful to consult The Typewriter Database after the fact to compare photos.) Price: $47.50. Nobody would call this an exciting typewriter — but you know, that would be a fair price if you wanted a good, solid writing machine and were willing to put in a little elbow grease to bring this into tip-top shape.

ABOVE:
Remington Letter-Riter from the mid to late ’50s. Very nice, clean condition, with a price to match: $120.00. When you consider that this is the simpler cousin of the Quiet-Riter, with no tabulator, the answer has to be: thanks, but no thanks!

ABOVE:
A Remington Rand Deluxe Model 5, I believe from the late ’40s. (Incidentally, I see a ton of typewriters from 1948 or so, when postwar demand was exploding.) Pretty clean. $85.00. At that price, I’d be more excited if it were a prewar model with glossy paint.

ABOVE:
Tom Thumb toy typewriter, 1950s, price reduced from $95 to $50. This one has been in the mall a long time. If you drop the price another $45, I’ll get it! Seriously, they are cute to look at but hideous to use. Even given the limitations imposed by the nature of a toy, this thing must have been designed by a sadist or an engineering school dropout.

ABOVE:
Another toy, this one made by Marx. Price: $29.00. This one was kind of interesting. The basic index mechanism is probably much the same as on Marx toy typewriters of the 1920s, but this gadget has a ’50s or ’60s look and imitates an electric typewriter, complete with a Return key. It’s reminiscent of an IBM Model B. The surprise is that, unlike any IBM ever, this thing is feather light! The body is just a thin, hollow plastic shell. The keys are just molded bumps in the shell. If I were a toy typewriter collector, I think I’d go for this one.
ABOVE:
A Royal KMG (the G is for Gray Magic!!) from the late ’40s or early ’50s. These are very good typewriters and very common. Is it worth $46.95? Oh … maybe. See my comment above on the Underwood S. 

ABOVE:
Another Underwood, I think an SX-100, ca. 1950, missing its front panel, with rust ‘n’ dust. Price: $75.00. Moving right along ….

ABOVE:
Hey, this is cute! A poster for an office equipment in the French provincial town of Auxerre, featuring a Contin typewriter. Price: $72.95. Seems a bit steep, and my walls are full, sorry.

ABOVE:
Yet another fat Underwood! This is one from the late ’50s, I think. Not sure what the model is. The styling is a little jazzier than on most and it’s labeled “Golden Touch” (that isn’t the model, but a trademark applied to various models). At $35.00, it’s priced very reasonably if you like this kind of thing.

ABOVE:
At $24.95, this is a cheapie. It’s a ’70s (?) Smith-Corona Courier C/T. Essentially, it’s a UK-made Skyriter put in a plastic body and designed for use with one of those notorious, dandruffy ribbons with a white correction strip on the lower half. No thank you, I have had enough tan plastic in my life.

ABOVE:
An early-’50s Royal Quiet De Luxe, one of the most popular portables ever, in classic gray. These were recently discussed on Ted’s blog. Price: just $39.00. Not bad!

ABOVE:
Another classic ’50s portable, a Smith-Corona Sterling. This one is clean as a whistle, with no eraser crumbs or cat hair to be found on it. The carriage was getting stuck, and on some investigation I found an old price tag that was causing the trouble. It said $39. The new price tag said $49.

ABOVE:
An Underwood at last! Circa 1930? I really should have checked the serial number on this one. Anyway, it’s a bit rusty and the decals are faded. Worth $69.00? Not to me.

ABOVE:
Here’s the KMG’s predecessor, the Royal KMM from the ’40s. I see these very often and when they’re in top shape, I really like them for their speed and snappiness. $49.00 is not an unreasonable price.

ABOVE:
Yet another Underwood, I think another Model S. $45.00. For a typewriter in this so-so condition, the price isn’t tempting.

ABOVE:
Here’s one of those early Marx toys I was talking about, a De-Luxe Dial. I’m guessing around 1930? This one is awfully charming, with its mock stairstep keyboard reminiscent of early Royals, mock ribbon spools, mock typebars, and silhouette of a child typist on the dial. I blew it this time: the price was obscured in my photo, and now I don’t remember how much it was. Since I’m not really a toy collector, in order for me to buy it, it would have had to be a bargain and the toy would have had to be in near-mint condition, but it’s a fun thing to look at.

ABOVE:
This poor Olympia SG1 with a bent carriage return lever has been languishing in the mall for months. Right now it’s under a coffee table, and I almost missed it. Price: $49.00. That’d be a NOPE.
And that’s it! 
Which one of these typewriters would you have taken home?
Can you guess which one(s), if any, I bought?
. . . . .
. . . . . 
. . . . . 
Unsurprisingly, I bought the $39 Royal Quiet Deluxe and the near-mint Smith-Corona Sterling. The management called the seller and asked about the two price tags; the seller agreed to sell it for $39. Now it’s already on sale at The Urban Legend Institute, where I expect it will find an appreciative new owner soon. The Quiet Deluxe will also go to the shop in due course. In this way, my antique mall finds benefit the community and don’t clutter up my house.
Have you found anything good on your own safaris lately?

16 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    What a variety! I just snagged an olive SM3. I fell in love with the burgundy one I use for writing letters, so I've been after one that has a regular font. It needs a new bail bar, plastic paper guide, and rubber washers to fix the carriage alignment, but it's very clean inside. $30. I nearly picked up the Adler J4 that was mint, but figured the Olympia will make a better writing machine…and I couldn't get both.

    Reply
  2. Mr.E

    I would've bought the underwood with the seed catalogs
    As it was made in 1943/4/5 as all the usually nickeled parts are black

    Reply
  3. Richard P

    Thanks for the insight, man of mystery!

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    Great to see this motley collection with a few gems! I would have gone for the Sterling too.

    Reply
  5. Nick Bodemer

    If the 1948 Remington was half the price (and in Seattle), I would've snapped it up! (Also, I could've seen buying the Courier to see if it really is as bad as people say…also, it seems like a good expendable machine for travel)

    Reply
  6. Ted

    I think you made the right choices, but the prices always seem steep to me at antique malls (:

    Reply
  7. Richard P

    I did grab an electric Smith-Corona at SVDP the other day. I used to find $5 and $10 manual machines there all the time. Those glory days are gone.

    Reply
  8. Anonymous

    Thank you for the safari – I enjoy seeing what's available in other places. There are an awful lot of Underwoods at your antique mall.

    Reply
  9. Nick Bodemer

    I just found a $10 1965-ish Classic 12 with a couple of British keys added (but sold in the US–maybe owned by a sports car dealer–Seattle had about 5 in the 60s) at Goodwill

    Reply
  10. Anonymous

    I'd have definitely walked out with the Royal QDL and I do like that fat Underwood kind of thing!

    Reply
  11. Ton S.

    Man, I missed going on a safari with you this year!

    Reply
  12. Unknown

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply
  13. Brad

    I found a beauty on a little safari in Bellingham, WA: a 1962 Olympia SM5 for $45, complete with brushes, cloth, manuals. Great condition, little used. Pica type. Hunting for an SM3 with Congress, but they seem hard to find for a reasonable price.

    Reply
  14. Richard P

    Nice! The SM5 is pretty scarce.

    Reply
  15. Typewriter King

    I think you're mistaken about the date. It looks to me like an "Rhythm Shift" that was made in, say, 1947 or 1948. The reason I think this is: 1. The ribbon color selector is vertical; 2. The bottom is completely squared off where the round bulges above the rubber feet used to be; 3. The stainless steel trim is diagonal. On the older machines, it used to be right-angle squared-off. Also, the trim above the carriage return lever and right-hand thumb-piece is a kind of hard plastic (bakelite?). If you turn the machine where you can see its backside, you should see the words, "Underwood Standard," to distinguish it from an electric that Underwood pioneered recent to this machine's manufacture.

    Reply

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