The great West Virginia typewriter meeting of 2015

by | Oct 25, 2015 | Uncategorized | 12 comments

A few highlights from today’s big meeting.

There was a good crowd this morning for various presentations, including mine about my book:

Our gracious and loquacious host, Herman Price:

All eyes turn to Gabe Burbano, winner of this year’s QWERTY Award for excellence in promoting typewriters:

Peter Weil describes his conservation process for his Universal Crandall No 3.
The results:

Bob Aubert showed us a Hammond for use by the blind. Its original owner won a Hammond typing contest in 1904.

This is a poor photo, but you can see the six special keys with raised rings that served as home keys for the blind user:

Bryan Kravitz of Philly Typewriter Repair gave us all copies of a fun brochure on typewriter care that he wrote in the ’80s. You can download a PDF of it here

Brian Brumfield told us about his experiments casting replacement parts, such as Hermes knobs and Smith-Corona carriage release levers. The general moral: flat parts are easy, complex 3D parts are not.

Dave and Will Davis showed us their “Harry A. Smith” Victor and pointed out that many “outlier” features of typewriters — parts or characteristics that seem surprising for the time when they were made — probably were added when the machines were rebuilt. Just one rebuilder had rebuilt over 300,000 Underwoods by the mid-1920s.

Plenty of typewriters came out of trunks and were swapped and sold before rain came along:

Here’s a Remington made in Italy and branded Commodore:

There were several Underwood electrics lying around:

These delicate, feather-light typewriters make excellent laptops:

Above, Ian Brumfield is practicing for the five-minute speed typing competition. We were given a text about Herman’s ancestor Henry Francisco, who supposedly joined the army at age 91 and lived well past 100. I managed to edge out Ian by just a couple of words per minute, working on the Purple Prose Producer:
The PPP was also an entrant in the beauty contest, but it didn’t get far.

The beauty contest winner was Herman’s restored experimental Remington Telegrapher.
Finally, I had a good talk about minds and machines with Oliver fan and fellow philosophy professor Marty Rice, who brought this wonderful ad I hadn’t seen before:

That sure is an aggressive writing machine!


  1. Anonymous

    Looks like a lot of fun. I'll have to go to one of these some day. I wonder if that Underwood electric handles better than my massive Royal-Litton?

  2. rn

    "Just as a battleship goes into action with decks cleared, so goes the Oliver–stripped of all useless parts." — Brilliant!
    Thanks for chronicling the meeting.

  3. Anonymous

    Lucky, lucky attendees! I wish I were in West Virginia! The typewriters are so beautiful this time of year.

    That Oliver ad is a hoot – I'll see if I can get the cannon on my Oliver running :)

  4. Rob Bowker

    Thanks for the pictures Richard – lots of coverage on the Facebook group also. Looks like yet another fantastic event!

  5. Unknown

    Oh boy, that Underwood Electric, with two-tone keyboard! And, paraphrasing Elvis Costello: Oliver's navy is here to stay, Oliver's navy are on their way… Brilliant ad.

  6. Ted

    Wish I was there :D

  7. Martin A. Rice, Jr.

    Hey, that Rice guy has a real eye for good graphic design, … doesn't he? And Searle's Chinese Room argument is STILL relevant!

  8. The Philosophy Teacher

    A simple viewing of Kubrick's 2001 is evidence that Searle was barking up the wrong tree.

  9. Richard P

    You mean "Stanley Kubrick" was really a computer?

  10. Digamma

    How can anyone type with an Underwood All-Electric on their lap? It weighs between 1 and 2 million tons!!!

  11. Richard P

    I know! That must have left some bruises.


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