Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Shiftless typewriter spawns keys

I’ve been on a typewriter buying fast since last year. I’ve even come to think of myself as a typewriter “archivist” rather than a “collector.”

But earlier this month while on vacation, I fell off the wagon. I could not pass up a Smith Premier No. 10A typewriter in an antique mall in Coos Bay, Oregon.

Here, staring me in the face, was a keyboard to die for. This massive piece of Industrial Age work has 89 keys arrayed in seven rows. The octagonal keys come in three colors.

The Smith Premier had no shift key, which pretty much explains the horde of keys.

I haven’t found the serial number yet (suggestions?) but these machines date from 1908 to 1921 according research done by renowned Will Davis. The “A” being a later version, this machine probably came from near the end of the run.

Question. Will or anybody: how does the 10A differ from the 10?

Will mentions some of the features about the No. 10A that struck me right away, including the easy to remove carriage (it lifts straight out), the odd location of the side-by-side ribbon spools in the back, a ribbon selector key and, of course, that massive double keyboard.

The machine is in good shape. The only problem is that the space bar spring needs to be replaced.

I paid $58.50, down from the asking price of $65. The clerk asked whether I needed help carrying it to my car. I said I didn’t, but I was wrong. A fork lift would have been handy.