Sunday, November 27, 2011

Analog Record Keeping and Kansas City History

I'm plucking out cards from cancelled sales for typing use.  This is the back of a card like the one below.

The story of one customer and his watch.
Each drawer held hundreds, if not thousands, of customer records.  The earliest were from the 1920s and the latest from the 1960s.  The entries from the '50s on weren't as interesting since they added small appliance repairs.
I have a certain nerdy fascination with forgotten history gleaned from esoterica.  Out of all the antiquities I looked at during the October First Fridays' sale at Good JuJu, this was my only purchase other than a 1960s vintage Girl Scout Handbook for my wife.

There are many uninteresting stories in this collection, but that is made up for by the really interesting customer stories.  I settled on this one because it contained a record of a house call to repair the dashboard clock on a "Ladies Red Buick".  In looking at the customer addresses, I've come to the conclusion that this jeweler generally served the upper middle class and above in Kansas City proper.  There are many monied addresses along Ward Parkway in the file.

The drawer full of record cards was one of many.  In talking to the seller, I found out that the whole lot of drawers came from a single huge estate sale cabinet that was in very poor condition.  So out came the drawers for sale to crafters, creative types and nerds.

I guess since I am using backs for typing, that makes me semi-creative.  The fact that I am blogging about it places me squarely in the nerd category.  At any rate, I have lots of fun reading material to pick through.

Typecast Courtesy of the Royal Futura 800 (Borg Edition)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mousiest Royal Futura - Except for the Awesome Font

Early morning sun brings out the best in this color combination.

The subject today is the world's mousiest looking Royal Futura 800,  We're not talking a little bit mousy - we're looking at full gray on gray.  I suppose at some point it must have been a cool combination since this seems to be the most common.

You push the logo to pop the hood.  Pretty neat and not at all gray.
 Um, yeah.  Even with the cool red logo button action, this is still one of the most boring looking typewriters in the world.

That is until you find out what is lurking under the hood.

Mmmm, tasty.

Pretty spiffy, huh?  This is Royal's version of cursive.  It is looser and more informal looking than the Hermes variation.  It is perhaps a little closer to my casual writing, but much more legible.

Funny:  Just now the gingercat (Claire) just looked over my shoulder and noted that the type slug caption sounded like something a key chopper would say.  I prefer to think of is as the sound of a type face connoisseur.

But perhaps we should let the Royal do a proper introduction:

As much as we love the Royal Futura, it doesn't have the precision of an Olympia.  The fit and finish are to a noticeably lower standard.  However, it's still a nice typing machine and is just generally more laid back.  It is almost quiet enough for night typing unlike the staccato Olympia SM3s.  The Futura is more beach bum than jet set executive.

The Futura has a whole different look.  At the moment, they are not particularly popular.  Hard telling whether that will change or not given the myriad options for used typewriters.  I've heard Futuras have shown up on TV.  I wouldn't know since we watch the Olympics, Presidential addresses and weather alerts and that's about it.

Gray to awesome, or leave it as is?

We're thinking about maybe doing a little repainting action.  So what do you think?  Leave it as is or go crazy with some hammertone?  There are so many luscious colors at Home Depot...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Another Hostage Crisis

UPDATE:  Less than 8 hours to go on the auction.  At the moment, it appears this machine may be spared from execution.  The current high bidder ($58.77) is a total vintage stuff nerd judging by their history.  Will the choppers want the keys enough to take it higher?  Tick, tick, tick...

The hostage of the day is a lovely black Corona Four.  The seller will hold off on cutting the keys until auction end on November 30th - the whole machine being made available with additional shipping.

Sounds fair enough:  Buy this typewriter or I will dismantle it.

Here is the machine in question:
I don't usually borrow photos unattributed.  This comes from the seller's linked photo album.
Looks pretty nice.  I like the semi-period setting.
The ebay auction ID is 370562343603

This auction reminded me of the National Lampoon cover or the SNL skit featuring Larry the Lobster.
This is one of those situations that leaves me seriously conflicted.  I try to keep the addiction in check by working off a short want list..  Even that is constrained by the desire for the machines I adopt to have non-standard type faces.  In theory, the responsibility involved in rescuing a typewriter is minimal compared to springing a dog or cat from the animal shelter. We've done that and spent years with some really high maintenance animals as well as some awesome ones.  Still, typewriters take space and deserve to be put in rotation for actual typing duties.

I've put the auction on my watch list.  I don't know exactly what I will do until the actual execution date approaches.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Greetings from the Battle Creek Sanitarium!

I suppose the truth in advertising version of this blog entry might read "Just Another Robot".  However, that would not be entirely accurate since the robot in question is my wife's Google/Blogger avatar.

The story goes like this:  Emmie was out of town visiting a friend and Claire and I decided she needed her very own Christmas robot.  Being the dedicated scroungers that we are, I took Claire to a local antique mall on a parts hunting expedition.

Claire didn't quite get why I was so excited to find this particular tin since she has not seen The Road to Wellville and won't be seeing it any time soon.  Once she read the Wikipedia entry on the Battle Creek Sanitarium, she totally understood the nerd factor and Momma would get her robot.  After all, Emmie's reading materials of choice often center on eclectic historical figures, public health and rare, incurable diseases.

Interestingly enough, the tin was full of caked something.  One of the perils of junk bot building is that you run into lots of disintegrated plastic goo, chemical residues and other safety hazards large and small.  This was my first experience with 100 year old food additives.  I could only hope that the Lacto Dextrin product did not contain some kind of virulent live culture that would trigger the world zombie apocalypse.

Apparently, food safety principles were followed at the Battle Creek Food company - zombie apocalypse denied!   The yellowish stuff in the container was probably state of the art health food back in the day.

Should you be interested in the story behind the real Wellville, drop by   While you are there, please consider making a donation to one of the few corners of the Internet that refrains from pilfering your data and barraging your browser with advertising.

The tin joined a vacuum tube, fork and spoon, scrounged bolts, nuts and screws from garage sales, a pair of spring loaded door bumpers and some industrial strength epoxy in this assemblage.

I hope that I did not destroy some valuable cultural relic in the bot making process.  Emmie does love her robot. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Other Olympia SM3 - In Italic!

A painfully boring looking machine made better with gentle cleaning.

Glittery paint - I recommend deep cleaning to bring out the best in otherwise dull Olympia grey.

Clean, informal italic.

When seen in macro, the keys have some glittery stuff imbedded in the plastic.  Was it inert or intentional?
Greetings from the Noisy Ghost

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dead Blogs Are No Fun

This sheet was cut from a blank book for documenting awesome dinner parties.

We've all been through it:   the Eureka moment when we have chosen to blog, know what we want to blog about and have an awesome name in mind.

Excited, we jump on Google and look up Blogspot names.  Perhaps we already have a blog and just want to add another to fit a different theme.

Then we find out that all the good names are taken.  That's not so bad unless they are taken by name squatters.

That is precisely what happened to me.  I wanted a place to put my odd stuff that did not match the vintage technology theme.  I started looking up names and found roughly 8 in 10 of the good ones (even obscure second choices) being squatted on and filled with blank page, one post, no posts or even a couple of months worth of posts many years ago - as in 2002 or 2004 in a couple I looked at.

And then I had a Eureka moment and discovered that had not been claimed.

It is now and I would love to have some help in identifying blogger names that are being used to no good end.  Send them to me and visit the new blog and let's have some fun!

As  side note, I have to say that I had a really good run up until looking for photo related blog names.  I've been surprised at snaring good names in the last few months for me and the family including:  nerdtopics (Claire), thoughtsatfullspeed (Hannah), housefullofnerds (my Spousal Unit) and my new junk pile called digitalmemoryhole.

The latter is currently an empty shell, but I promise to populate it, really.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

An Olympia SF with a New Skin

I spotted this great looking Olympia SF on Etsy.  I think the machine looks really nice like this.  Certainly a script SF is rarer than a standard version, but this seems a great way to keep a machine relevant.  I know either of my girls would jam on this new skin.

What do you think?  Art or sacrilege?

I have at least one typewriter that is destined for a nice pearl metallic rattle can repaint.  However, I don't expect that to be the norm in our house.  It certainly would not happen to the pre-1940s machines.