Sunday, March 13, 2016

Smithsonian Typewriters

Firstly I'd like to recognize that work from several people went into this.  I was lucky to meet a few, including two I met personally: Stacey Kluck and Heather Paisley-Jones who were both incredibly friendly and happy to answer questions and let me have a closer look at some of the things on display.  Thank you so much and we look forward to more events!

The event was called the "Type-O-Rama" and was part of The Object Project, which is an initiative by the Smithsonian to engage museum-goers with machines and inventions on a more personal level than the other side of a glass case.  The exhibition was small but covered large floor space and the noise of typewriters attracted plenty of people (I snagged this picture early on).  
Not just any Underwood 5, but the one used by Mildred Wirt Benson to compose the first 23 Nancy Drew books.  For me at least there is something deeply special about a machine used to write so many influential and bestselling books.  I love the places where the paint is worn, and the missing pieces on the carriage top.  It certainly seems well used!
This machine is a Bing, labeled as an Anfoe Student, which was owned by Shirley Temple.  This was my first time seeing a machine that had been in the Soboroff collection (I was told he donated it).  So this one has a big provenance, with a little extra bonus provenance.  Very cool an in excellent shape. 
A Royal KMM used by Carlton E. Morse for an old radio show "One Man's Family".  I will admit I am not familiar with it but I can attest the KMM is a good choice for consistent work over a 15 year time span (the length the show ran).  This one bore a plaque that my camera didn't like to try and photograph in the strange light that says "One Man's Family / on / N B C / 1932-1947"  Hmm, this machine could only have actually been used for the last 8 years, and it has rectangular shift keys, so maybe only the last 7 years... that's only half the show!
This is the Typewriter Rodeo making a glorious ruckus.  Closest is a Royal QDL, then an Imperial 70s portable, a nifty Oliver portable, and last a very nice Remington 2. 
This was taken just moments later from the other side. 
I stood in line to have David write my poem, which was a nice coincidence because he is a like-minded Royal Quiet Deluxe fan and his machine is exactly like my favorites. 
Not part of Object Project, this piano looking thing could be spotted on the way in and is an 1868 patent model for the Type Writer built by Christopher Latham Sholes, Samuel Soule, and Carlos Glidden.  All of you typewriter fans owe a great deal to those men and this exact machine among other prototypes leading to the eventual debut of the Sholes and Glidden.  It's pretty surreal to stand right next to it even with a plate of glass between.


  1. Looks like a great event. Love the alphabet piano.

  2. heh, ought to upload that one as a sighting to TWDB :D

  3. Every time I look at that bing - I just drool. Oh.... my!

  4. Hi Mark,
    Thanks for the "tip of the hat" it really enjoyed meeting you and your fellow collectors! I look forward to working together soon.



  5. That's amazing to be able to see that patent-model in reality. Probably is the only pre-qwerty Type-Writer!

    1. I think the museum has several of these proto-type patent models. I'd love to be able to see more of them.