Friday, October 08, 2010

My Underwood Standard Four Bank Typewriter

Some of you expressed an interest in my vintage Underwood typewriter. My parents gave it to me a couple of Christmases ago. I also have a lizard-green 1930s Royal that JB gave me - I'll save it for another post.

This is an Underwood portable typewriter with a standard four-bank keyboard. It still makes that thrilling clacking sound when you type and I'm sure it would work if I had the right kind of ink ribbon in it.

I think I'd originally said it was from 1918; it's actually probably from around 1927. On the back is etched a list of all of the patents, beginning in 1912 and ending in January 18, 1927.

It has a cover that latches on (the latch still works) :

It's like the great-great grandfather to the modern laptop case. I'm not good with weights and measures, but my son weighs nine pounds and the typewriter with case is much heavier...maybe closer to 15. I think it had a leather carrying strap at one point (see the metal strap holders above).

The keys are in great condition on the whole - they don't stick, but some of the arms (is that the right word?) that strike the paper take a while to return to their places. The spacebar has a crack down the middle but still works.

There's an envelope with a tiny key to the lock on the case, although the key itself looks much newer than 1927.

We also found a repair ticket from Dec. 31, 1971 under the typewriter. Cool, right? I love this kind of stuff.

The ticket is from Atlantic Office Machines, Inc., 12 Milosh Street, Clifton, New Jersey. The customer was named Gallo, and lived at 263 Orchard Street in East...something, I can't read it. It looks like Pcet. Anybody familiar with New Jersey?

 It cost $15 to repair sticky keys, a "loose + jammed" H key and an "F stuck in air."

There's a metal plate on the inside of the typewriter cover that probably once had the typewriter's serial number but it's been either worn or scratched completely. The 1971 repair ticket says it's an "Underwood port. 4B153472" (or the B could be a 13) but that number doesn't seem to correspond to any of the Underwood portables on the Typewriter Serial Number Database.

I wonder how this little Underwood made it all the way from New Jersey to me in Alabama. I wonder what kinds of thrilling things have been written on it...novels, love letters, ransom notes...

I'm a nerd about old things. Aren't they awesome??


Abby Minard said...

That's so cool! I love all that history type stuff. You could write a story about that trusty typewriter :)

Flynn Taggart said...

I ran across your blog post while searching around on Google for information regarding the Underwood Standard Four Bank. I just purchased one off of eBay and was going to work on restoring it. Yours looks fantastic. I'm jealous!

It's also nice to see another writer out there that appreciates antique typewriters. I currently use a 1948 Royal Quiet DeLuxe Portable and find it more productive than my laptop. The Internet is just too darn distracting sometimes.

or "The Brian, the Pitch and the Wardrobe" said...

We have the same Underwood typewrite at home in Buenos Aires. It features heavily in my recently-finished novel, Freddiementary. You can google that if tou like. I'll be posting chapters on the blog soon.