Update on the Urban Legend Institute

by | Mar 20, 2018 | WordPlay | 4 comments

The Urban Legend Institute, the little shop that supports WordPlay Cincy, has been rechristened Urban Legend Typewriters, since typewriter sales and service constitute nearly all the shop’s business. I’m proud to have raised tens of thousands of dollars for WordPlay over the last five years, and I keep learning as I take care of the machines that come in. (Most of the business is service, except at Christmas, when we sell lots of typewriters.)

I recently showed you a Cyrillic Royal P that came in for service. Here are a few more recent repairs.

Here’s another Royal P that needed a good cleaning and two new keytops. This typewriter’s keytops, which don’t look original to me, have just a thin plastic coating over cardboard. The C and N had big pits chewed into them, and I replaced them with legends and thicker plastic tops from a 1930s Royal parts machine.

This Smith-Corona Silent-Super had its drawband tangled around its mainspring, and was spattered with ink and Wite-Out.

The owner of this 1929 Underwood portable found it in a dumpster! He had the platen recovered by J. J. Short but needed some help getting it back into the typewriter and fixing an issue with the ribbon advance. The ribbon covers on this machine were missing. What you see here are 3D-printed covers created by Pete Volz. As I predicted in my book, 3D printing is an increasingly useful source of typewriter parts. There is even a website, 3dtypewriterparts.com, that includes a few downloadable files.

Meanwhile, there has been an update to the exterior of the shop. There’s a Shepard Fairey mural on the side of the building featuring Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi. Here’s how it looked a few years ago.

After the mural was vandalized by a local graffiti “artist,” Fairey recreated it, with slightly different imagery. More recently, with the news about Aung San Suu Kyi’s indifference (at best) to the genocidal persecution of the Rohingya, someone altered her face to give this call for human rights an ironic new twist.

Heroes come and go. Typewriters endure.


  1. Unknown

    Love all that's going on!

  2. Bill M

    Good to hear WP and the shop are doing good. Too bad the vandals can't stay away from the mural.

  3. Ted

    Also too bad that power and lack of being in a cell showed that Suu Kyi can't or won't support the rights of all of the citizens of her country, so yeah – these are times where the norms aren't holding and there are strong and dangerous flows of misunderstanding and insistence that ideas are more important than rights. Thus, vandalism in spite of the good works of the vandalized. When one Obeys the Giant, one paints a target on the building and accepts routine maintenance of a controversial visage. /:

    whew, that aside, the renaming was a great idea. Having "Typewriters" in the name will guarantee you a lot less free time and more machines to tinker on. You'll be surprised how much clear branding can increase traffic. :D

  4. Richard P

    Ironically, it's at the corner of Hamilton and VANDALIA. I must say the second act of vandalism made sense and adds to the density of this street art in an interesting way.


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