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Type Talk » Coronavirus Typewriter Pen Pals » 12-4-2020 23:48:50

Replies: 3

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Me, too.
The keyboard is willing, but I am amazed at the unending little jobs and projects that have been amassing in my to-do list, and none of them allow for time required by my 48-key friend(s). (This "working from home" thing ain't all its cracked up to be.)

I must make time to put on an anti-COVID 19 mask, go down to the stationery store, pick up some suitable high-grade paper, carbon paper, and maybe some onionskin, if possible.  And start typing my annual Christmas letter.
At this rate, I might get it done by the end of the year.

-- Ardie and the Skyriters

Typewriter Paraphernalia » Does carbon paper deteriorate with age? » 26-10-2018 23:07:45

Replies: 8

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I have some carbon paper that's been around in my stationery stuff since the middle 1960's.
After this intriguing message thread, I pulled out a sheet and did a bit of typing.
Then I pulled out a sheet of carbon paper that I picked from the Staples store about 2 months ago and did a bit more typing.

The 1960's carbon impressions were clear (as a carbon copy can be), but there *is* a slight difference from the 2018 carbon copy.

I attribute the difference to the variation in carbon paper formulation changes over 50 years rather than the actual age of the carbon paper.

Ordinary typing paper, when kept tucked away for half a century, can look as fresh as a daisy. 
So its no stretch to think that carbon paper can remain fresh as a daisy for a similar period of time.

Unfortunately for me, my Smith-Corona Skyriter isn't too happy with anything more than 1 sheet, 1 carbon, and 1 sheet.  So to make multiple copies, I have to use my printer/copier to make color copies of the carbons :-(

-- Ardie

Type Talk » New York Times Article » 11-8-2018 23:09:30

Replies: 7

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As for my mother, she was determined to get off the farm and make something of herself. 
Living through some of the depression with nine brothers and sisters (and not all of them were filled with get-up-and-go) will do that to you. 

And to the typewriters...
I can't say for certain which machines she used at her work, *but* we had an old 1940's black Smith-Corona flat top around the house when I was growing up.  Although it looked brand-new, I suspect it was a typewriter that she bought through Chillicothe Business College as part of a student discount program.  Inside the typewriter's case was an ancient 1940's "How To Touch-Type" booklet that looked like part of the class materials.  You know, the red booklet with the typewriter keyboard laid out with circular keys on the cover, so you could "learn to touch type" without actually having to unnecessarily buy an expensive appliance in the 1930's.

Later, we got a Sears-brand of a Smith-Corona Electric.  Two of the keycaps and type bars' slugs were interchangeable for other letters or symbols.  Mom was practically giddy with delight that she had an *electric* typewriter at home.

I recall that one of her jobs had the then-new IBM Selectric machines, the one with the interchangeable "golf ball" typeface element. She hated it.  She never got used to the delay between the keypress and the ball rising up, rotating, and striking the page.  (I guess it threw her off her groove, man.)

At one of the places where she worked, she had a boss that insisted on every typed page had to have NO errors and NO erasures and NO correction fluid.  She was the only one in the office that could do that using only one sheet.  At speeds exceeding 90 words per minute.

Me?  I'm lucky to do 40 WPM.  I had a Smith-Corona Sterling during my college days, and did my term papers and thesis on it.   I stupidly loaned it to a friend one day, and that was the last I saw of it. 

I now have 2-1/2 Smith-Coronas:
Smith-Corona Skyrit

Type Talk » New York Times Article » 11-8-2018 21:10:40

Replies: 7

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To those of us who not only love typewriters, but to those of us who love to type, I'd say this article should be shown to those who don't really understand.

"Things I learned in Secretarial School"
New York Times  (2018-08-11)

Its an excellent reason to learn how to type.
Not just pressing keys, but composition, speed, accuracy, and above all, confidence.

It reminded me of my mother's story.  She went to Chillicothe Business College (Missouri) in a time when office clerks were respected jobs, and learned to be a secretary to escape the dead-end future of living on a farm in a small town.  She didn't just learn office skills, she lived them. Filing, shorthand, typing, and more. Office etiquette. Telephone manners. Care and maintenance of office equipment. All "dead" skills today, it seems, but vital to keeping the wheels of American Industry turning back then.

And not just shorthand. She could do shorthand as fast as you could talk after two cups of coffee. And she could read others' shorthand (which is a *lot* harder than reading someone else's handwriting).
And not just typing.  She could type 90-100 words a minute.  On a manual typewriter. 

When she graduated, she got a real office job and escaped her home town of 2,400 (which is smaller than the dormitory where I went to University). She met and married an engineer, saw a good part of the world, and then settled down to raise her kids. 

Sadly, her skills only live in me as a faint glimmer, not a shining beacon.  Of my siblings, we all type -- on computers, but I am the only one that still owns a typewriter.  And I use it for official correspondence when hand-typed documents would be noticed and given more attention than usual.  Mom was loyal to Smith-Corona, and for some reason, so am I.

-- Ardie
You'd think I would've turned out better.

Typewriter Paraphernalia » Pelikan branded silk/seide ribbons » 07-7-2018 14:55:29

Replies: 13

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I did another examination of my three typewriter ribbons, and did a thread count.
Note: "Width" is spanning the width of the ribbon, i.e., 1/2 inch (13 mm);
"Length" is he direction of the 8, 10, or 12 yards the ribbon is long.

Cotton ribbon: 128 per inch W x 072 per inch L

Silk ribbon:  192 per inch W x 128 per inch L

Nylon ribbon:  192 per inch W x 128 per inch L

I was *shocked*.  I thought the silk ribbon was supposed to be something like 300 threads per inch, and it isn't.  At least not today's Kores-brand ribbon.  Nevertheless, the Nylon ribbon edges out the silk ribbon in print qualiy, but loses out due to poorer print color.  In the end, though, the Nylon ribbon had the clearest print output.

-- Ardie

Off-Topic » The Official Fountain Pen Thread » 30-6-2018 01:48:34

Replies: 44

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Yeah, I'm guilty of using fountain pens.  I have a couple of old Schaeffer pens, a Waterman, a few modern and classic Mt Blancs, but my favorite oldie is the Parker 51.  Right weight, right size, right feel, right everything.  But it leaks something awful :-(

I can't seem to find the ultra-super-fine nibs that simply everyone seemed to use in the 40's and 50's.  My mother's letters (espescially the air mail ones) look like they were written with spider silk. 
I've seen a pen -once- on eBay listed with an "accountant nib," but I couldn't justify the bid at the time.

If you go down the classic pen rabbit hole, you will probably be disappointed as the nibs are worn and the refill mechanism has a 50-50 chance of leaking.
So I go over to my favorite store, Art Supply Warehouse ( and buy their cheapie fountain pen, 'Pen and Ink Sketch' in extra-fine nibs for less than $20.00.  They work with a refillable reservoir or cartridges.  After about a year, the nib starts getting tired, and its easier to just toss it out and get another one.  Hurts a lot less than wearing out (or losing) a $250 pen. A couple of mine accidentally went for a ride in the washing machine, and I didn't shed any tears there. 

I don't really do any writing worth archiving for the ages, so I usually swipe a ream of copy paper of the month from the office.  Someday, I'll bite the bullet and get 100% cotton 24 lb bond paper for writing/typing, but it won't be today.  Oooo. Maybe onionskin.

Now lets talk about fountain pen ink.  I prefer BLACK, not just black.  And it had better not bleed through the paper like it was a sponge. 
Waterman, Sheaffer, Parker, Mt Blanc, Namiki, Sailor, I'm not impressed (although the aroma of the Waterman ink is bewitching),
Monteverde's "Midnight Black" is okay.
Herbin's "Perle Noire" is pretty good.
Pen and Ink Sketch's "India Black" is okay.  Since the bottle is low and wide and easy to refill the pen, and since its cheap, it is

Typewriter Paraphernalia » What kind of paper are you using? » 14-6-2018 23:11:12

Replies: 65

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I have been using the El Cheapo paper that I swipe from the office.  Two sheets!  One to type on, and one as a platen-saving backer.
Its okay. 

But I *do* have some NOS high-grade paper squirreled away for those special occasions that have never come up.

I riffle through the old carbon copies of letter my mother typed back in the 1950's, and they (the copies, not the originals), and they were typed on onionskin paper.   That might be cool to have around for special occasions...

I've scanned in some of our very old greeting cards.  I might print them out on high-grade cotton paper and use that as my stationery, killing two birds with one stone.

-- Ardie

Typewriter Paraphernalia » Pelikan branded silk/seide ribbons » 14-6-2018 22:51:51

Replies: 13

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I have two Smith-Corona Skyriters: one is 10 CPI (Pica), and the other is 12 CPI (Elite).

I wondered which ribbon made my typewriter look the best, and got a cotton ribbon, a silk ribbon, and a nylon ribbon.

The heavily-inked cotton ribbon was not just black, but BLACK. It looked really good in he Pica machine, but was too inky for the Elite machine.  Too many filled-in a's and e's.

The silk (Kores-brand) ribbon was Black, and looked great in both the Pica and Elite machines. No filled-in letters.  The print was a bit uneven, but the ribbon was brand-new, and rhat might have something to do with it.

The easy-to-get nylon ribbon was not black.  It was more like dark grey.  Nevertheless, the output was even and readable. 
But I can't un-see how pale the nylon print looked when placed next to silk or cotton. :-(

As the results are now, I *lust* for the silk ribbon, even though its about twice as expensive.

I may need to do more testing by typing 3 or 4 pages full of #'s and @'s to see if the ribbons will look better once the excess ink is pulled out.

-- Ardie

Typewriter Paraphernalia » Purpose of a Typewriter Pad? » 10-6-2018 10:03:52

Replies: 14

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Update:  I bought a roll of Con-Tact brand kitchen drawer liner (  Its a rubberized padded roll that goes in the bottom of a kitchen drawer to reduce the clanking and sliding of the kitchen utinsels.
The 1-1/2 foot x 10 foot roll cost me $5.99 from TJ Maxx.
I only needed an 11 inch x 12 inch piece for a typewriter pad, and a pair of scissors cuts through it quite easily.
Its grippy, and my typewriter doesn't slide around anymore on wood, glass, marble, or Formica. 
I didn't do any decibel reduction studies, so any change in noise is purely subjective at this point, but for five bucks, I have accomplished  my mission to keep the typewriter immobilized on my desk as I type.

Resources » Best ribbon supplier » 18-4-2018 22:07:18

Replies: 16

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Hmmm.  If you are talking about rhe inked ribbon *only*, then I'm at a loss who would be the best bulk ribbon supplier.
But if you are asking about typewriter ribbons on spools, that narrows the field for me.
The spools for my Smith-Corona Skyriter are somewhat rare (1-11/16" diameter, splined spindle), which is either B29, or SC-64, so I go with some of the bigger names on eBay or to get them.
The original Skyriter metal spools are no longer available, so I have to be satisfied with the plastic ones.
Ribbons Unlimited or FJA Products can supply my habit.
NOTE: These guys supply Nylon ribbons.
If you want cotton ribbons, you can get it from Ribbons Unlimited, but not on the spools I need.  No biggie; I'll just wind them onto a pair os empties I have lying around.
If you want silk ribbon, then I have to go overseas to a European dealer (I think the seller's eBay handle is "wepper").  Again, I have to wind it onto my own spools. And wait 2-3 weeks for international the American West Coast.

Oh, you want black/red?  Ribbons Unlimited.
Oh, you want Green?  Purple?  Blue?  FJA Products.
They may not be cheap, but they deliver a quality product, and ship quickly enough.

I'm not supposed to be such a typing fanatic to need more than a new ribbon every 90 days, so your need to be more economical may override my need for convenience and timliness.

-- Ardie

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