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26-1-2019 19:37:28  #1

Smith Corona Changeable Type

Hi everyone,
First time poster. I recently bought my first typewriter, a 1970's Smith Corona Classic 12. I learned about the Changeable Type system, and long story short, I'm fascinated and I want to start collecting them. Could you guys steer me in the right direction to finding them easier? So far I've reached out to a couple local typewriter repair shops and searched eBay with...not a lot of results. I understand that I'm venturing into the realm of actual vintage collecting, and that this stuff isn't just something that's out of stock on Amazon, but I was hoping that the more experienced among you might know something I don't.


26-1-2019 21:51:26  #2

Re: Smith Corona Changeable Type

I used to sell these typewriter when they were new and I never sold a Change-A-Type kit. I doubt many dealers ever stocked them and most buyers got them mail-order direct from Smith-Corona via the coupons that came with the typewriters. Nowdays your best bet is eBay where they come up from time to time. They sometimes are included with a S-C typewriter online or in local shops but it's not often. If you're in a university town your chances are much better as they were mostly an academic accessory. I once got the male/female slug when I bought a Smith-Corona from an ornithologist. Mostly you find Math and Greek symbols, often in sets of four. Have fun.


27-1-2019 16:06:15  #3

Re: Smith Corona Changeable Type

As Michael stated, I believe most of it was sold via mail order:

I used to keep my eyes open for it to turn up, and over the past ten years I can count on one hand how many times I've come across someone selling a Changeable Type kit. Difficult to find, unfortunately.


27-1-2019 19:33:21  #4

Re: Smith Corona Changeable Type

Uwe, I left a long, involved note about these on your blog at .


28-1-2019 12:49:20  #5

Re: Smith Corona Changeable Type

Yes, great stuff Michael - thanks! I'm going to revisit my Smith-Corona models armed with your information and update that post. If I understood you correctly, there must have been FOUR keytop variations then: the original red rounded version; the black and white rounded version; the square version you mentioned; and the late-version square ones?


28-1-2019 15:45:07  #6

Re: Smith Corona Changeable Type

Uwe, I would say at this point there were two keycap styles:
Rounded with at least three variations: early red, later black and white, and Sears-branded black, all these being interchangeable regarding fit;
Square with no variations but two applications, early square cream and square cream on plastic-bodied typewriters, these two being interchangeable and nearly indistinguishable;
And two slug types: a slip-on, and a slip-on with a catch, the latter being found only on plastic-bodied machines, but they are all interchangeable.
There are pics here: . Feel free to use them if they are good enough.
I have only seen the square keytop with slug-with-a-catch on Sterling Automatics (all-electric with plastic body) and thus only the 1/4 over 1/2, but all the other square-top ones fit anyway, so....
Hope this is clear and helpful. Thanks for bringing it all together.


28-1-2019 16:18:00  #7

Re: Smith Corona Changeable Type

I'll edit and use those photos (with credit, of course). I can't say that I'm familiar with the square key version; were they on both manual and electric models? Did Smith-Corona still call the system "Changeable Type" or was it marketed under a different name? I appreciate this information!


28-1-2019 21:36:29  #8

Re: Smith Corona Changeable Type

Don't know whether they were used on both manuals and electrics. Funny, I though the square keytops were pretty common but now I can't find any. I think I've mostly seen them on electrics. The whole keyboard has square keytops with only the barest space between them, like computer keyboards.
I think they were always called Changeable Type; don't recall where I got that "Change-A-Type" from; maybe it was Sears. I like "Change-A-Type" better.
I have added a Smith-Corona order form page to that Imgur album. It shows how seriously S-C took that keytop business.
Has anyone ever seen a Smith-Corona desktop or office typewriter with Changeable Type?? It seems like a natural and yet I have not seen one.
Whew. This is getting complicated.


28-1-2019 21:52:03  #9

Re: Smith Corona Changeable Type

Well, looks like that order form needs a separate image insertion... >>>


29-1-2019 12:10:01  #10

Re: Smith Corona Changeable Type

The square keytops definitely look like they came from newer electric models, which would explain why I haven't come across them (I only have 6-series and older electric Smith-Coronas in my collection). You can see the Changeable Type used on those were the rounded keytops:

Clearly I'll have to update the page on Changeable Type to include the newer models. Of note, the order form that I have on the page also warns about selecting the correct keytops too when placing an order.


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