Saturday, 26 January 2013

Typewriter Choices, Canberra - 1958

ct 26 may 1958 p5

The Canberra Times, 26 May 1958 – page 5

In a sign that I have too much time on my hands, I looked up “typewriter” in the earliest Canberra Times issues (1926 – 1958) and came across this advertisement. It isn’t very much but it’s interesting for a resident Canberra to see what was available in the way of typewriters years before he was around to find out himself. Now, pounds shillings and pence don’t mean much to me either, so below is their prices in today’s dollars, adjusted for inflation
Typewriter Australian Price Today American Price Today
Empire Aristocrat $922.86 $961.62
Hermes Deluxe $1087.15 $1132.81
Olivetti Lettera 22 $1160.15 $1208.88
Olivetti Studio 44 $1391.28


Hermes 2000 $1391.28 $1449.71
Remington $1453.50 $1514.55

These prices are making the dollar-figures attained on eBay at the moment look very, very reasonable. But we haven’t taken into account depreciation, yet, have we? Besides, it isn’t about the money for me anyway, not now. You can’t put a price on an ingenious piece of mechanical engineering and precision construction, still working perfectly half a century or more after it was made, can you?

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Corona 3 with some [recent] history


‘I think I probably have a "spare parts" Corona 3 here that you're welcome to have and tinker with. It's not working, but I think can be made to work with some effort,’ said Robert Messenger in an email to me. And how I was I going to say no? Another project on the horizon, right after I had embarked on the Hermes 3000s? It was irresistible, the same word I used to describe the Corona 3 in that same email conversation.


Let’s say at this point my mother wasn’t too pleased.

“What do you mean another typewriter?”

“Oh, this one’s very small, I can assure you. It’s a good one.”

“That’s what you say about all of them, Jasper.”

“But this one’s a really good one, and its small.”

So, to cut the story to its bare minimum, I got it into the house. And what do you know? My mother actually liked the look of it, which is quite a change. She recognised it, too, from Mr Messenger’s red Corona that appeared on the front page of The Canberra Times

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But it isn’t just a spare parts Corona 3, that’s for sure. It has a few connexions within the Typosphere already. Namely with Mr Robert Messenger and Mr Richard Polt and Mr Polt and his Moya 1 typewriter.

On the 14 March 2011, Mr Messenger blogged on oz.Typewriter that there was a golden opportunity to buy a piece of typewriter history. A Moya 1 had come up for sale in New Zealand for $US140, a bargain price.

Mr Messenger wrote:
”It seems a remarkable coincidence that less than three days after an Imperial Model B was sold on Australian eBay for $1575 ($US1587 at today's exchange rates), I should spot the Imperial's forerunner, a Moya 1, listed in an online auction at an equally ridiculous price - except in this case, at what strikes me as a ridiculously low price.

”And the seller's starting price (no bids had been made at the time of writing this) for a package of three typewriters - the Moya 1, a Corona 3 (which looks to be in reasonably good shape) and a Royal 10 (ditto)- is a mere $NS190. That's about $US140 at today's  exchange rates.”


Mr Polt expressed interest, and eventually won the auction. The Moya 1 was then posted to Mr Polt, while the Corona 3 was then posted to Mr Messenger as a thank-you from Mr Polt. But I haven’t been informed about the fate of the Royal 10. The Moya has been most beautifully restored by Mr Polt, and a picture of the restored machine is located here. But, as Mr Messenger is currently on a down-sizing mission, and there are a few working Corona 3s in his collection, one can assume I was given in it for a project and so it was kept within the bounds of the Typosphere.

But it was originally bought in Australia, as you can see in the label underneath the carriage below:


We can safely say that this typewriter has been around. Bought in Australia, sold in New Zealand, sent back to Australia, and then sent across a few more suburbs.

At the moment it looks fantastic. Cosmetically it’s good, but mechanically, the carriage isn’t working. At times it slides freely from side to side, while at other times one must use the carriage release lever. A makeshift draw-band hangs in a disturbing angle out to the back and the ribbon advance/carriage advance mechanism isn’t quite shot, but it isn’t in a good way. And I’m sure eagle-eyed readers will have noticed the backspace key is missing – I still have it in a plastic bag, though. Whatever is really wrong with it, it will take a fair bit of effort in getting it to work again, but for a Corona 3, I think that it’s worth it.





Serial number: 598784, which dates to late 1924.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Smith-Corona Christmas Present to Self





That last typecast snippet got a bit wonky, didn’t it? That’s Microsoft Publisher’s Inset from Scanner of Camera function, for you, isn’t it?

It must be said that giving a Christmas present to the self is a little bit self-obsessed and obnoxious. But with typewriters a little exception surely can be made.

Monday, 14 January 2013

The Hermes 3000 types again


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(For those who are interested the serial number for the chassis is 3001856, which is dated to be 1958, the body is from a chassis serial number 3202863 which dates to 1964.)

Sunday, 6 January 2013

What’s the secret: How do you put bearings back in?

It’s a job that many avoid, a job that many have heard about and a job that many don’t want to experience for themselves. But it’s a job that I’m going through.

When Robert Messenger is offering some spare part Hermes 3000s with the idea that they would be able to be put together to form one, decent, good nick, working one, how can you say no? That’s why I’ve got three of them, all in various states of disassembly.

The chassis that I’m constructing the final, resurrected typewriter from had a bit of an issue with the carriage. While it had all the bearings one had moved in its retainer and made a nasty scraping noise as you moved the carriage. The only option appeared to be taking the whole lot off and then putting it back together.

The whole lot has now come off and I have eight little bearings, two retainers, a carriage, and one frustrated self.

What is the secret/trick/black magic method for getting these things back in? Any advice, tips, etc. etc. etc. would be very much appreciated. And I’ll share the results of this – at present – painful procedure with the ever helpful Typosphere.

I’m most willing to post photographs if they would help you.

Friday, 4 January 2013

UPDATED: The Revolution is going well in Canberra.

On first publication this post encountered some technical difficulties. It is now reproduced here as it was originally intended.

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