Cover Unveil: The Typewriter Book from Uppercase

Uppercase The Typewriter Book

Finally, the cover for the long-awaited The Typewriter: a Graphic History of the Beloved Machine has been revealed. This book will feature over 200 pages of history, photos and timelines of the glorious typewriter. If you’re familiar with Uppercase magazine, you know this book will be beautifully designed by editor-in-chief Janine Vangool and printed with the highest quality standards.

Pre-orders are still being accepted at $45 per book. I pre-ordered mine ages ago so I can’t wait for the fall to get. That’s when the book will start shipping.

Kickstarter: Qwerkywriter


Even typewriter lovers among us occasionally have to use a modern-day computer. Why not experience the beauty and feel of a vintage typewriter while you pound out your emails or Twitter missives? That’s where the new Kickstarter Project, the Qwerkywriter comes in. Its a USB keyboard (though there are plans for a Bluetooth adaptation if they exceed funding) that has a 88-key mechanical keyboard with the classic good-looks of a vintage glass-key typewriter. The “paper feed” doubles as a tablet stand for your iPad or Android tablet.

At the $289/$299 funding level, you can receive this unique keyboard. The developer is about a third of the way to his funding goal so if you’d like to see this project come to fruition, support it today. The funding period end July 3.

Qwerkywriter with tablet

The “Upstairs” Typewriters

I admit it. I have a typewriter collection. All my machines are manual typewriters, no power needed other than my fingers bashing about on the keys and a good ribbon.

When one must describe a portion of the collection and the  “upstairs” typewriters, clearly there’s some typewriter hoarding going on here. The “upstairs” typewriters are mostly functional, though the Royal Royalite is being moved downstairs until I can get it fixed, or at least looked at by a professional to see if its worth fixing. The others are diamonds, or at least diamonds in the rough.

The "Upstairs" Typewriters

After getting my new Lettera 22, I just had to see how much overlap there is in the collection and was pleasantly surprised to discover there isn’t any. Okay, technically, there is a “spare” super-wonky Hermes Rocket in the basement that needs to be repaired but that’s the only case where I have two of the same machine. But, seriously, no self-respecting typewriter collector would ever walk away from an Hermes Rocket. Nope. Not a chance.

So, would you like to see how these all type?

Royal Royalite Typing sample

This is the wonkiest of the bunch, the Royal Royalite but I love the typeface so much I’m willing to see what it would take to fix it up. Besides, it has one of the most beautiful shapes of all my manual typewriters. I bet Mary Tyler Moore, or maybe Rhoda would have typed on a machine like this.

Olivetti-Underwood Lettera 22 typing sample

This is my newest acquisition, the Lettera 22. It needs a new ribbon but it has instantly made it into my top three typewriters. It requires a pretty light touch for a manual typewriter and has no noticeable flaws in performance. What a score this was!

Hermes Rocket typing sample

I want to love this Hermes Rocket, I really do but it has a wonky ribbon advance and it cuts off the ink on uppercase letters. The ribbon might be too big for the machine or something but its been nothing but frustrating.

Adler Tippa typins sample

Oh, Adler Tippa, how I love you! This is my coup de gras of typewriters. It was in pristine condition when I bought it on Craig’s List and the cursive script face was a total bonus. This is one of those items I’d be sure to grab if there was a fire/tornado/etc.

Smith-Corona Empire typing sample

I think the only flaw of the Empire by Smith-Corona is that it was never really used and could use some oil. Otherwise, its a little trooper with some sticky keys.

Webster Brother XL-747 typing sample

My Brother/Webster is not the prettiest machine in the house, even with its shiny blue paint, but it has been a workhorse. I found it at a thrift store and paid $20 at the time which my dear husband thought was ludicrous. Poor delusional boy. The red ink is running dry on the ribbon but this machine stills gets used more than any other.

Do you have a typewriter? Or several?

Typewriter Acquisition: Olivetti-Underwood Lettera 22

Olivetti-Underwood Lettera 22

I’m an equal-opportunity office supply junkie. Pens? Yes, of course. Paper? Yep. Staplers, paper clips, clipboards? Don’t mind if I do. And the coup de gras of old office goodies, manual typewriters? Oo la la!

This weekend we went out to our favorite antique mall which is often a hot bed of vintage office supplies like old staplers, pocket notebooks with feed store logos and the occasional bullet pencil but typewriters tend to be of the dusty-and-rusty variety and never anything serviceable or useable. Until this weekend when I stumbled across a minty Olivetti-Underwood Lettera 22.

Olivetti-Underwood Lettera 22

The mall was having a “meet the vendors” night with free cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and special discounts on merchandise so this fine piece of mid-century mechanics was 35% off. I grabbed this beauty and hopped to the register faster than you can say “shabby chic” and then we headed over to Skylab Letterpress to do some light cleaning and oiling.

Olivetti-Underwood Lettera 22

It cleaned up beautifully and the keys work beautifully. I just need to order a new ribbon for it. It has a switch for two-color ribbon so I’ll keep that in mind when I order a new spool.

Sadly, the typewriter no longer had its carrying case so I’m keeping an old bit of fabric over the top of it to keep it from getting dusty until I find a case for it. Holler if you happen to find one!

Olivetti-Underwood Lettera 22

Do you peruse thrift stores, antique markets or yard sales for vintage office supplies, pens or pencils?

Ask The Desk: Typist’s Desk and Purse Pens

Ask The Desk Header

Robert asks:

As a writer, I recently purchased an electric typewriter for drafting content. What kind of supplies are appropriate for setting up a vintage typing desk: lamps, pens, paper, erasers, etc.?

(A still from All The President's Men via The Young Folks)

(A still from All The President’s Men via The Young Folks)

If what you are hoping to do is to create a classically vintage workspace, be sure to go through the Vintage posts for recommendations on classic items to add to your space. If you’re looking for specific items designed to function best (vintage or new) with a typewriter set-up, then here are a few recommendations.

  • Remember that the platen travels so you need to have adequate clearance around your typewriter. Don’t set your coffee cup down in the direct path of your typewriter platen or you’ll end up with a big mess (ask me how I know this).
(via Utrecht)

(via Utrecht)

  • A swing-arm or flexible lamp will be a great option to direct light where you need it. I use a Lite-Source Swing Arm Combination Lamp ($89) that is several decades old on my desk at work. It clamps to the edge of the table for stability and moves in all directions. It uses a fluorescent tube plus an incandescent bulb which can each be used alone or in combination for bright light. A less expensive alternative is the Adjustable Swing Arm Lamp ($15.99). Both designs are classic and would be aesthetically comparable to an electric typewriter.
  • For paper, standard 20lb paper from an office supply store should be fine. I would not get paper any heavier than 20lb (like standard black-and-white copier paper). If you’re looking for classic onion skin-style paper, carbon paper, or other classic style, check out Ebay. I put all kinds of paper in my typewriter but I try not to use any paper that’s too heavy. It will end up having a curl to it as a result of being wrapped around the platen.
  • As for erasers, you could try a typewriter eraser or liquid correction fluid but I think modern correction tape is far more effective, easy to use with no odor and no eraser flakes dropping into you typewriter, gumming up the works.
  • Pens are a matter of taste and preference. If you are using standard 20lb paper to type and want a tool to annotate changes and edits, a red or blue pen or pencil would be recommended. Fountain pens might bleed or feather on standard paper so I would say keeping a stash of pencils would be classic, in keeping with your typewriter. Maybe even a red/blue pencil or a mechanical pencil?

Harvest Thick Red/Blue

  • You might also want to consider a copy holder or other method for displaying a previous page while typing. For a vintage look, this one would be particularly nice.

Phil asks:

Looking to pickup a small ballpoint pen to go in my wife’s wristlet (Vera Bradley Pushlock). My thoughts were Monteverde Poquito or maybe Zebra SL-F1.  Gel is okay, but she prefers a no fuss tool above all else.

I confess that I don’t think I could pull together a better assortment of pocketable/purse-able pens than Jet Pens’ Mini Pens post. And I agree that the Monteverde Poquito Stylus would also be a great choice and it has the added bonus of the stylus at one end for digital devices. If your wife prefers ballpoint pens, she might also like the Kaweco Sport in the ballpoint model. It takes the Zebra 4C refills like the Zebra SL-F1. And, of course, you can’t go wrong with a classic Parker Jotter. Best of luck, Phil!

Typewriters on the Oscars

Penelope Cruz and Robert De Niro present at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California March 2, 2014.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES TAGS: ENTERTAINMENT) (OSCARS-SHOW)

Penelope Cruz and Robert De Niro present at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California March 2, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES TAGS: ENTERTAINMENT) (OSCARS-SHOW)

I’ve been scouring the internet trying to get some information about the typewriters used as a backdrop in last night’s Oscars broadcast during the Best Writing categories. Did you see them? I haven’t been able to find any information about the typewriters, who owns them or where they came from (the Museum The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, maybe?). If anyone finds any information, please leave a note in the comments.

Somehow, in my searching, I found this photo instead:

 ( New York Public Library ) Nine women pose on a really big typewriter on display at the Underwood Elliott Fisher Exhibit at the New York World's Fair, 1939-40.

( New York Public Library )
Nine women pose on a really big typewriter on display at the Underwood Elliott Fisher Exhibit at the New York World’s Fair, 1939-40.

Thank you, internet non sequitur.

Paper Mechanic Typewriter Calendar

Paper DIY Typewriter Calendar

When someone mentions “typewriter” and “calendar” in the same sentence, my ears prick right up. Add in a little paper mechanic magic and I am already writing the blog post in my head.

This darling little desktop calendar stands in its own 3D foldable typewriter. Just print out the pieces and assemble. Consider it as a great Tuesday morning office project. It is available for instant download for $4.99 via Sky Goodies on Etsy.

(tip via Teri of Fiberterian)

Link Love: Long Labor Day Weekend Edition

I’m taking off for the Labor Day weekend but will be back, re-inked, freshly sharpened and opened to a clean page on Tuesday. In the meantime, enjoy the diverse collection of links this week and feel free to explore the archives! Happy Labor Day!



Paper and Notebooks:


Instagram Loves Office Supplies

I have been following lots of office supply geeks and letter writers, artists and designers and I just thought I’d share some of my favorite Instagram photos from the last few weeks.


Clockwise from top right: Uppercase’s Crafting Supplies, Pencil drawing of Sug-ums by Eabaddeley, Caran D’ache candy colored mechanical pencils found at Greer Chicago by DovBee and Vintage Airmail Envelopes by Scoutshonorco


Clockwise from top right: Canadian protractor ruler by Rad + Hungry, Paper Delivery by IvanR, Notemaker J. Herbin ink bottles, and Pencil Pal Pencils from LetterLoves(I sent them to her)


Clockwise from top right: Vitagum erasers captured at Hammerpress by HelloBF, Portuguese wax crayons from Rad + Hungry, Office work space by Pugly Pixel and New-to-her Smith-Corona typewriter from Adamihasegawa

Typewriter Ribbon Box


This is another bit of vintage office packaging from my ever-growing collection. The box included the metal spools and the two-tone ribbon. Written in pen on the box from the previous owner, “old spools replaced 3/1/88”. I wonder if she bought this box in 1988 or if it was in her office for 20 years?

Oh, the little paper ephemera treasures!

Music to my ears

(Link to file on SoundCloud)

This is the musical sound of “16 typewriters, 18 calculator machines, 8 accounting machines, 12 office perforators, 10 caisses enregistreuses, 8 humidificateurs-colleurs, 8 tele-scripteurs, 2 metronomes, 4 bells of signalisation, 2 entrance door gongs, 10 claxons, 16 telephones, 40 experimental signal receptors, 1 fork lift, a duplicator and a monte-charge” and it was recorded in 1964. Freakin’ amazing!

(via The Atlantic)

Hermes Rocket

The typewriter, under wraps

Beneath this beautiful wrapping paper and twine is a new-to-me Hermes Rocket typewriter.

Hermes Rocket

The Hermes Rocket is a slimline manual typewriter is battleship grey with minty green keys. It was designed to be durable and portable, weighing about 8lbs with the case/lid.

QWERTY close-up

The letter...

It was acquired through the Letter Writers Alliance and is a fine piece of machinery kept and maintained in great working condition. Its about 60 years old and will continue to be useful for another 60 years if I can keep it in ribbons.

On that note, I’ve found that Scantracker (out of Kansas City, KS) is an excellent source for typewriter ribbon including the two-color red/black ribbons. Their website is a little antiquated but I got my pack of ribbons in just three days at a great price.

Rhodia Webnotebook Winner!

Winner of the Rhodia Webnotebook

Running a bit late today so I thought I might make the winner announcement extra special and use my favorite typewriter to type out today’s winner (so its sort of a typocast)….

Random number generator picked:

So, here is the winner (which I had to print out the comments and number manually as I had replied to some posts and my comments don’t count and there was a couple comments that posted twice by accident):

Winner of the Rhodia Webbie blank

I will be sending an email to the winner to get your mailing address so check your mail!

Thanks to everyone for participating and stay tuned for more giveaways soon!

Help Fund The Typerwriter Book!

UPPERCASE books is attempting to crowdsource funds for a new book called The Typewriter: a Graphic History of the Beloved Machine. It will be a large , full color hardcover book with at least 224 pages filled with artifacts and graphics of the history of the typewriter. Funding options start at $5 but $45 or above will get you a copy of the book when its published.

I’ve purchased other books from Uppercase and they are stunning in quality, design and attention to detail. This publication is sure to be all that and a bag of chips. I will certainly be funding this project and I hope you can too!