Sunday, June 18, 2017

Write Right with carbon paper

How often do my readers use carbon paper? If you're like me, the answer is hardly ever. But this creates a problem in correspondence: will you remember what you said in your last letter? An advantage to digital correspondence is that it's usually easy to reconstruct a conversation, either by going to your Sent folder or by checking older messages that are quoted below your current one. If you're just working on paper, it's not so simple. You could always scan or photograph your letter before sending it off, and I've done so in some situations, but with personal correspondence, that feels to me like violating some sort of unspoken typospherian contract.

So when I sat down to answer some letters recently on my 1938 Continental portable, I felt the need to make a carbon copy.

I dug through my drawers and found this:

It looks like a relic of the 1930s or ’40s. The wrapper reads:

To Give Best Results
When Used Properly in a
Standard "Kant-Slip" Register


7 1/4 inch  2 ply
Dayton, Ohio
Manufacturers of

I don't even remember how or when I got this, but it's never been used. I opened it and found that the roll even has its own serial number:

Even in the absence of a "Kant-Slip" Register, the stuff works.

Now I'll know what I said in this letter, even after it's mailed off to its recipient. Ah, the wonders of modern technology!

I'll add that if you care about posterity, and posterity turns out to care about you, a carbon copy is much more durable and legible than a digital file, which can alter, degrade, or simply become unreadable with the passing of the years.

Oh, and this is a Kant-Slip (as sold on eBay a while ago).

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Type-ins and more, June 23-24

There are several typewriter events happening on June 23 and 24:

1. QWERTY: The Second Annual Festival of Type and the Letter Arts will be held at the Greenville Drive-In on June 23-24th and features a return performance by the enigmatic rhythm and words ensemble, the Boston Typewriter Orchestra. The festival begins on World Typewriter Day Friday with a line-up including a special live performance by Brian Dewan and a 10th anniversary screening of Gary Hustwit’s documentary Helvetica. Boston Typewriter Orchestra takes the stage Saturday evening before screenings of Ink & Paper and Doug Nichol’s new documentary California Typewriter featuring Tom Hanks, John Mayer and Sam Shepard. Both evenings will host a gathering of typewriter poets, typewriter and letter art and a type-in hosted by Eric Molbach. Bring your typewriter or use one of the free typewriters provided on a first-come first-served basis. The Greenville Drive-In is located at 10700 Route 32 in Greenville NY 12083. More information here.

2. Type-in at Mission Pie in San Francisco, June 23, 3-7 pm.

3. Type-in at Oblation Papers in Portland, Oregon, June 24.

4. Type-in at Landmark Books in Traverse City, Michigan, June 24, 12-4 pm.

As for me, I'm going on vacation on the California coast.

Enjoy the beginning of summer!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Seen but not bought

What? I exercised some restraint? Yes, believe it or not. The following items were at the Ohio Valley Antique Mall yesterday.

Olivetti Studio 44, $85.

Made in Italy. Dated to 1956.

What made it very tempting was this double gothic typeface:

("Gothic" today suggests Goths and heavy metal bands, but in traditional typography it refers to simple sans-serif typefaces.)

However, I already have a double-gothic machine (a noiseless portable), and this one would take some work to restore. I'm too busy.

Here's a cardboard box with lots of history and character. The serial number of the L. C. Smith that it once contained dates the box to around 1940.

A few more tempting typewriters:

Very clean Smith-Corona in an unusual color for $59:

Underwood DeLuxe Leader, $69:

Royal O, $69:

These were all good machines at fair prices—and yet I let them be. What self-control!

This morning I heard from another collector who passed through the same mall yesterday and picked up one of these:

It's a Campus Mark I made by Nippo in Japan. My fellow collector is staying a couple of miles from me, so we may get together today.

Yesterday I also got to meet collector Scott O., who was in town. And there will be another visitor next week. Viva the typosphere!

Another experience yesterday: I went to a show of Star Wars costumes and saw this 1975 "process plate" that shows that work on the original movie was very much non-digital, including typewritten notes and white-out.

In other news, the summer ETCetera is out, featuring this beautiful Waverley from the Martin Howard collection.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Making & Typing in California

At a recent Maker's Faire in California, a loyal agent of the typewriter insurgency and her son brought a set of typewriters. Here's a succinct report:

More details: "It was fun to see a couple of kids discover typewriters and really take to it right away. One boy spent about an hour on 3 different typewriters, being really focused. A lot of notes to moms, dads and grandmas were written. One little girl wrote a beautiful note to her teacher whose husband just passed away. About 5 preteen girls were really into writing notes to their friends—like texting.
Out typewriters were right next to a station where the kids could tear apart computers. So many were fascinated to see and basically understand how the typewriters worked as opposed to computers which seemed more abstract."

Monday, May 1, 2017

Three new publications for typewriter lovers

1. The new Typewriter Exchange is out, and it has a doozy of a cover story! This newsletter is on its 29th volume, most of which have been edited with good humor and total regularity by Philadelphian Mike Brown. "Typex" features regular collectors' columns, reports on auction prices, interesting articles and vintage news stories and ads. It's three-hole-punched so that you can store it in a binder. This issue features a remarkable Blick 7 cipher machine in Nick Fisher's collection which is, as far as we know, unique. Interested? Write to Mike Brown at typex1 at

2. I just got the latest Auction Team Breker catalogue. The May 20 auction includes a few special typewriters such as a Kosmopolit, a Darling, and a "deluxe" nickeled Malling-Hansen Writing Ball (shown on the front of the catalogue and on the cover of ETCetera No. 109). There are also hundreds of other mechanical antiques, including calculators, automatons, mechanical music players, toys, and an Apple I computer. Interested? Be the first to send me an e-mail requesting it, and I'll send it your way for free (US addresses only). (Update: the catalogue has been claimed.)

3. Finally, it won't be published until November, but this forthcoming book by great typewriter collector Tony Casillo ( is bound to be interesting. He even got Tom Hanks to write a foreword! (Tom, if you're reading this, I'd love to hear from you someday.)

4. Not new, but don't forget Typewriter by Paul Robert and Peter Weil.

5. And The Typewriter by Janine Vangool.

6. And, oh yes, The Typewriter Revolution by some obsessed geek.