Friday, January 25, 2008

More on the old Corona...

The Craigslist ad just said "L.C. Smith&Corona Typewriter in its own case," and listed a phone number. No pictures, no nothing. But the price was right, and I was curious, so I called and asked if I could stop by. When I saw the round keys and found that it all seemed to be in working order in spite of the dusty, musty shape it was in, I had to have it.

It's a Corona Standard, or so it says on the front. It also says "Floating Shift" on the shift keys, but I think that's a feature and not the model number. I tried tracking down the serial number (3C347795) in the Typewriter Database, but found myself pretty confused by the whole Smith Corona section there. My best guess is that it's from early to mid 40s, and more likely the end of that time frame than the beginning. A wartime model, I think.

It has some flaws. For starters, for some reason a number of the keys are completely crooked!

Note the "J" in particular. What's up with that? And they appear to be stuck that way. I'm not sure how to fix them. I thought perhaps it was a common issue, so I did some searching at the Yahoo portable typewriter group site for words like "straighten" and "crooked" and "keytops," but didn't come up with any explanation or assistance. I'd guess maybe a key-chopper had been at it, but its story doesn't bear that out.

The man I bought it from last night lives just down the road from me, and he said he does building material salvage. In the process of doing his work, he often finds odd things left behind. He had an amazing assortment of old toys and other such things that he'd recovered - fascinating. The typewriter was another such find. As I understand it, it was just...sitting.

Good things about it: it has a wonderful touch! Really crisp and smooth. Not a single key sticking, amazingly. And with a new Jay Respler ribbon (I was impatient and put one on before cleaning it much), it actually types beautifully, in spite of a hard platen and its age. I never cease to be amazed by these relatively complex machines and their ability to work perfectly after forty or fifty or sixty years of neglect.

Downsides: it smells very, very musty and mildewy. It's dirty, as the pictures show a bit - it needs to be scrubbed. It may even be a little rusty in parts. It also doesn't have a tab key (I like having one tab setting for my paragraph indents, but I can live without it), and this model doesn't have a regular paper bail - it has these little rollers that slide back and forth to hold the paper on each side of the page:

These would be fine except that I tend to write almost to the edges instead of doing nice margins, and these get in the way of that. Maybe it's good for me. I did snag the paper when I first loaded it, though, as can be seen in my initial photo. I'll learn. It also doesn't have a guide on the left for loading paper, which is not really a big deal, I guess, but I do notice it. Same with the lack of anything for holding the paper up in back as one types. All in all, though, I like it!

Now to try to decide which of the rest of the herd I could live without...

5 comments:

Duffy Moon said...

I'm curious, too, about the askew letter keys. I've seen that a lot in ebay listings. Not having a single glass-top key machine myself, I have no idea how they get like that.

I love the all-business look of that machine. Nice find.

Elizabeth H. said...

You know, I don't think this one actually has glass-top keys. They appear to be just metal. I don't know if that's because of the time frame (wartime) or what.

As for the crooked keys...maybe I'll ask the Yahoo Group people one of these days! I'd like to know if it's something I could fix myself without too much trouble.

It sure is nice to type on...

Olivander said...

The letters are printed on die-cut paper which is sandwiched beneath the glass keytop. As the typewriter is used and the key construction loosens up, the letters can "wander" around.

Olivander said...

BTW, your machine dates to 1944, according to the SN database.

Elizabeth H. said...

Thanks for the help, Olivander, both with the date and the why-fors of the crooked letters! I'm flattered that you stopped by!

Is there anything easy that can be done to remedy the crookedness, or is it tricky? I can certainly live with them as they are, but if it was a simple fix...