Friday, 14 September 2012

What is it about this typewriter?


What is it about this typewriter? It isn’t at all anything special. It isn’t unique – there were millions of these little Brothers, with a variety of names, made. It doesn’t even type particularly nicely. An Olympia SF beats it hands down. Then, when I have better, German, American typewriters, why would I use this? That is a question that I cannot answer.

I could not part with this typewriter. Even if I replaced it with the exact same model I couldn’t do it. My Lemair Deluxe 220 is practically the same mechanism, but I don’t use it all. The Brother 215 is the typewriter that I take places. Originally I told myself that it was because I didn’t care what happened to it. That, though, is no longer the reason. It’s because we’re inseparable.

Why was this typewriter the wall paper on my phone for quite some time? That is, until Robert Messenger kindly gave me the Clifford’s Good Companion Model T (see here: Why do I think that this is the typewriter, when it most clearly, in most other people’s minds, isn’t?

The Brother 215 appeals to me because it just types. Nothing ever goes wrong it it, it always reverses the ribbon, it always types fairly well, and it will always be ready the night before an assignment is due to bash out an all in one draft/final copy. This is the machine that I let people use. Only certain people get to go near the Valentine and the cursive Lettera 32 (another kind gift of Robert’s).

So, still, why? Just why? I can’t tell you. That’s an anti-climax for your isn’t it? If you must have something to satisfy you: it’s because I’m attached to it. This is the machine that I wrote my first high school newspaper column on. It is the typewriter that I wrote my first interview with a local government minister on (also for The Student’s Standard).

It’s obvious why writers get attached to their machines. While I make absolutely no claims to be a ‘writer’, I, too, am also attached to one machine. And this 215 is it.


14-9-2012 -- Brother 215

POSTCRIPT TO TYPECAST: Of course I rarely use the now non-functioning Brother portable. It doesn’t work. I’m sorry to have displayed my ignorance so bluntly there.


  1. It's funny how that happens. There's a certain familiarity and comfort with a machine you use to the exclusion of others. Being one you can take places just adds to that. So it's not some super-rare imported ancient machine, so what? There's a certain beauty in reliability, being able to grab a case off the shelf on your way out the door and say to yourself 'this fella will not let me down.' And there's no doubt that Brothers are some awesome work horses.

    Enjoy that fantastic little machine!

    1. In hindsight, too, I think I also like it because it doesn't draw attention to itself. It isn't a bright orange Olivetti Dora or something with glass topped keys. It just waits for use without really asking for it.
      Brothers really are amazing workhorses. I couldn't tell you how many pages this little one has written just in the year that I've owned it, and not only that I can't see any new damage and wear that I've inflicted upon it - the way it's going it could well outlive me.
      It's a shame that Brother didn't do standard desk-top machines, really. They would have been something above reliable.
      It's a typewriter that's everything, the more that I think about it: portable, reliable, well made, easy to use, with enough guts to handle a bit of 'heavy' work.

  2. Based on the looks I guess your Brother is a lot like my crappy Chinese Royal knock-off (see my blog a few entries back) but with better build quality. And if that is true I can see why you would love it. Great simple design, lightweight, and extremely reliable. My "Royal" is just so poorly built it makes the machine a nightmare, but I know this is not true of the Brother typewriters. There is a reason Brother turned out to be the largest typewriter manufacturer at the end of the era.

    When you bond with a machine you can't control it. It just happens. I have a few that are my favorites to type on. My 1940 Royal Aristocrat, my 1958 Hermes Rocket, my 1940 KMM... The best machine in my collection objectively is probably my Hermes 3000 and I do love it, but it isn't my favorite to use. My Olympia SM-9 is also a gem, but again, not my favorite to type on.

    Love is strange like that.

    I am glad you enjoy that Brother. I hope it continues to faithfully serve you for many years to come. It may be it gets replaced and it may be that you finally found the one.

  3. This is the second post in a few days that has made me want a Brother. That is quite an attractive little typewriter. I have my favorites, and I keep them downstairs (all about the dining room table...) and the rest are up in the typewriter room. I like to jump back and forth between machines for writing letters and whatnot, but I always come back to my Olympias. Be it the SG1, SM9 or Elite, I just absolutely love the feel of a well crafted, German typewriter. Olympia especially. The Erika I have been using a bit, but it is not the same. I love the Avona (Alpina), but I'll be damned if that thing isn't louder than the SG1! I keep a few Facits in their cases near the table, as I love their typefaces and bring them out for letters.
    Everyone has their 'go to' machine, and I love it when people post about them. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. The mysterious, not really explainable bonds we form with particular writing machines are one of the most appealing dimensions of this hobby, I'd say.