Saturday, March 30, 2013

Olivetti Lexikon 80 Production Lines

I ran across some images of the various production lines for the Lexikon 80 and thought I should share them with the Typosphere. Go to the host website for the Ivrea plant image below and you can zoom for detail.

Source (in Italian):

And some Lexikon 80s running down conveyors in various degrees of completion:
 This image came from the same website. Find what looks like a search window and plug in "Lexikon" for more gems!

With the right Italian search phrase, more results start coming in through a Google search. This appears to be a final quality control and adjustment step in Brazil.
Flip through the Fotogallerie for more images from this production facility. They were very proud of the architectural details. I wonder if this building still exists?

Did you know Olivettis could fly? I suppose it would help if I read Italian. This production line image comes from a wonderful group showing the diversity of Olivetti's range of products being manufactured.

And here is a low resolution image of the body shells being mated with the rest of the machine:

Thank goodness for the Internet! I didn't expect to find much about making these fine machines, but the search turned up all kinds of interesting tidbits. For example, here is the beast itself from another great collection of product images. Sure looks like Kodachrome to me.

Also, I have a semi-rhetorical question for the Typosphere. Let's say one were to acquire a grubby Lexikon 80 in the least appealing shade of light gray. While it would be possible to strip off layers of nicotine and polish and wax the machine, would it be a Cardinal Typeratti Sin to consider painting it in another Olivetti shade or strip it to bare aluminum and polish it?

Feel free to post your opinions or throw rocks at me in the comments. They are moderated, but other than spam it all gets through.


  1. Noway is that a sin, man. Pimp Your Write! Paint, polish and label that sucker however makes you happy (:

  2. I am a big fan of the Canadian show "How It's Made." Wish one had been made at this factory way back when! Very cool pics. Thanks for curating and presenting 'em.

  3. Of course it wouldn't be! I was thinking-- how fantastic it would look in that Olivetti blue?

  4. Wonderful photos! It's nice to think that one of these could be my own Lexikon 80.

    I agree that this could be a great model to "pimp." They are uncommon in the US but very common in some other countries, so you're not altering a rare machine. The typical beige color is less than inspiring, and it would look spectacular if you stripped it, chromed it, or painted it with some high-quality paint. (Consider bringing the parts to an auto body shop.)

  5. Nice! Some of these I haven't seen, thanks.

    The original color is taupe with a beautiful olive tone that's something of a signature for Olivetti. It really is a good color for an Italian typewriter that already has an artful and sophisticated design. But if it needs a re-paint, why not. But please, no purple, pink, or anything associated with Barbie!

    Since you picked up on the Lexikon theme, this could only mean that you have decided to acquire one. There was one listed for $65 on ebay a couple of weeks ago.

  6. Thanks for the comments! I struggle with the balance between vintage purity and household aesthetics. I feel better about the idea of helping this be part of family.

    The machine in question was acquired on ebay and it is not the signature color sported by your machine or Richard's. With the nicotine and old oil cleaned off, it is close to the mouse gray of a Royal Futura. I'm considering some high quality rattle can green that is somewhere between the Hispano Lexikon and Graphika colors. I promise no neon or pink! The ribbing on the back of the carriage is discouraging me from stripping and polishing, but that would look cool on this machine.

    I still have a drawband repair and general reassembly ahead to make the machine functional. The reveal has been blown, but that is OK. I'd rather do the repaint before a proper blog entry. The machine was $49 and the shipping was almost as much at $38. It was built in Great Britain.

    Where do I find the serial number on this beast? The carriage is off along with the shell and I still can't find it.

    As an aside, I was in Chicago for a quick out and back meeting and managed to get by the Oliver Typewriter building. Awesome!

  7. Dwayne. aha, I had a feeling that you already landed a Lexikon 80. Congrats! Happy to hear you're not going for the hot pink family of colors for this one, I think there is such a thing as a good color match and you're right, what works for a Futura might not necessarily work for others. The serial number is located immediately next to the right ribbon spool base is bolted (it's etched on black metal so that's probably why it's not too visible).

    It's great that you got to see the Oliver building!

  8. I can't wait to see what you do with your Lexikon 80. Congrats on the score!

  9. Two bits of good news: the Lexikon 80 is now functional and this blog passed the 40,000 pageview mark today! It's only fitting that the highest recent referral traffic came from the home of the Olivetti, Thanks, Ton!

    The serial number is in the 81,000 range. In theory, that places it in the first year of production, 1948. However, the manufacturing location in Great Britain might throw things off. Any opinions?

    The reveal comes later after it is photo worthy. The skin is still off at the moment. It has a nice typeface and deserves a better ribbon as well.


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