Wednesday 5 October 2016

Typewriters on Travels

As mentioned in my last post, as fun as living in a tiny flat above a shop in Southampton has been, it has all but closed the door on my typewriter collecting. The tools are back in Australia, the typewriters that I haven't sold are in my parents' attic and the motivation for buying and repairing is now largely re-directed towards saving money so we can travel about the place at every opportunity. 

BUT, this is no barrier to cataloging what machines I can while on the road!! The first half of this year we went far and wide, going to a different country almost each month between February and June. The second half of the year on the other hand has been far more sedate.....

Tallinn: Feb 2016
Groovy old thing in a shop window with a Russian keyboard. Is this an Underwood 5?

Tallinn itself is a fantastic city. This was a holiday where we went where the flights were cheap. And I fully recommend it. Quaint little suburban ski-fields on a local hill, amazing Gothic architecture and a whole sea-side looking across out to what is eventually Finland to the north. Can fully recommend Estonia and would love to go back. In winter again.

 Leiden: March 2016

In late March we went to Amsterdam, making use of the fact that the local airline flies directly from Southampton to Amsterdam. Being able to take a 10 minute cab ride to the airport, fly for an hour and a bit and eat lunch in a different country is amazing. Amsterdam is a grand city, a testament to the fact that you can retrofit cycle paths everywhere and change a culture to one of sustainability and cycling. Granted the topography is flat as a tack. After Amsterdam we went to the smaller town of Leiden, 50km or so to the south and stayed a night. Here was a once-a-year flower display to die for and this dear old Torpedo sitting in a cafe where we stopped in for a coffee one morning.

Paris: May 2016
 Hello hello hello, do we have a Sholes and Gliddon right here? I must have stood there gawking at this thing for a good 5 or so minutes!

Hammond 2, in all it's bizarre glory. I really would have loved to smash the glass and steal this one right out of the museum

Yost #10. This beats the dual-keyboard Smith Premier that John and Scott helped me with a few years ago!

Each of those typewriters were sitting right next to one another in this awesome design museum hidden away in Paris. It also had this replica of one of the early (and most likely disastrous) attempts at powered flight.

Paris..... Even though every very dark corner or ally way smells like urine, it's still all it's cracked up to be.

 London- Sept 2016
This Oliver 10 was hidden away in a stall in a market off Brick Lane in London. Selling for £120. If I didn't have an afternoon ahead of me I'd have quite possibly had a quick haggle and bought it right then and there (struggling with all 1000kg of it back to Southampton on the train). Pretty good working order and it's the Oliver I've always wanted.

Ho hum. However I would have been keen if the carriage was a super duper long one like the one I featured from Paddington Antiques in Brisbane some years ago....

Old London town. We get up to London about once a month for some reason or another. It's busy and it's expensive, but it's also pretty cool.

Poole- September 2016
The missus was in Poole, an old beach side town around an hour south-west of Southampton for work. She saw this dear old thing at a charity store and I received this picture on my phone.

A phone call to me with confirmation it was working- the price was right- and it's now in the living room at home among other op-shop finds that need handing on the wall or (in the case of the other Olympia) taking back to the op-shop. Looking forward to writing grandma a letter as soon as the new ribbon arrives.

Shout out to all the space-constrained "collecting-with-my-camera" collectors out there!


  1. Not an Underwood 5, look at the carriage return lever.

  2. What fun to see some of these sights. Thanks!

    I agree with Mark, that is not an Underwood -- probably one of the many imitations made in Germany. I was in Tallinn way back in 1984 and enjoyed it too.

    What's the name of that museum in Paris?

    There are typewriter lovers in London. I can put you in touch if you like. Send me an e-mail, polt at

    1. Some of them even read this blog you know... ;)

    2. Richard- The Musée des Arts et Métiers I believe.

      ZetiX- Nice to meet you! I'm afraid my services to the typewriting world are little more than window shopping these days, but I will keep an eye out in the charity stores down Shirley High Street.

  3. As for the Tallin machine it looks like Ideal to me:

  4. Don't most capital cities smell like that? ;)

    1. Fair call! Paris perhaps more so tho. London for one is taking up arms against it:

  5. W o W <3
    An Olympia SG 3! xD
    I have one like that!
    You can see the typecasts I posted using it on:

  6. Juzt thouht i would let you know i have listed on ebay uk a green bar-let model 1 on ebay uk on 30/05/19 .rds...mackenny

  7. Any chance you're living in Brisbane again and still repairing typewriters? Or can put me onto someone who does? My grandfather's typerwiter just stopped working.