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23-12-2020 08:43:33  #1

Olivetti-Underwood 21

Got this one in early November of this year.

Quite a nice typewriter to use and it is heavy at 16.0 lbs. without its case weight.

Each time I use it, I bond with it more and more.  Such a pretty machine with its 2 shades of blue.  All metal body panels, too.

This one dates from 1967.


24-12-2020 09:32:34  #2

Re: Olivetti-Underwood 21

Well thanks to a local FB Marketplace trip with my wife to pick up a vintage sewing machine, I was able to snag another O-U 21 machine & case for $ 15 USD.  I spotted it in a dark corner of the seller's garage.  I knew what it was by just looking at the case and she said "'s yours for $ 15... ".

It is as nice as my first machine and I am working my way through the "To Do" list of some items needing done and sorted out.

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24-12-2020 12:51:48  #3

Re: Olivetti-Underwood 21

Great score, Pete. It looks new!

Can you please check yours for the mysterious X-E crossed links? See here: . I keep publicizing this curiosity in the hope that someone will be able to explain why this was done. The OU21 is based on the Olivetti Studio 44 and I am also trying to find out if the 44 has this same arrangement....

(If you join that database site---become a "Typewriter Hunter"---you can see more comments lower on the page in the Gallery section. You can also enter your own typewriter collection there.)


24-12-2020 13:36:29  #4

Re: Olivetti-Underwood 21

Nice! Does anyone have an idea of just how many 21’s were sold over the years? Based on the activity of my local Craigslist, I’m under the impression that this must of been one of their very best sellers. There always seems to be one or more listed for sale whenever I check. Not always at bargain prices however, but were this machine to prove to be a good fit for me, I feel that I would at least be able to have my pick of one in great condition.


24-12-2020 15:49:19  #5

Re: Olivetti-Underwood 21

Guth, maybe, but where's your "local"? These things were never evenly distributed. If you want an Olivetti, be glad you live wherever you do; there are precious few Olivettis in northern New England, compared with Royal, Smith-Corona, and Olympia, and even Underwood and Remington.


24-12-2020 17:47:00  #6

Re: Olivetti-Underwood 21

M. Höhne

Yes, both of my machines have the cross-link you mentioned.  No cross link on my machines on the opposite maybe something running along the left side was cause for the cross link ?  p.s.  I usually do not publicly display SN's for any of my collectible items.

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24-12-2020 17:50:52  #7

Re: Olivetti-Underwood 21

Spent 2-3 hours today deep cleaning, ribbon change, and I got the ribbon spools to move and reverse.  Too many years sitting with old oil/grease without any use.

Last item on my To-Do list it to firm up the ratchet-engagement of the carriage-return lever,  Task for Xmas morning when things settle down.

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24-12-2020 21:16:18  #8

Re: Olivetti-Underwood 21

Greetings All and a very Merry Christmas

Just a couple of theories to put forward about the 21's. Looking at my Underwood 21 S/N 917777 made in Don Mills Ontario Canada, it too has the E and X links crossed.

Theory # 1: With the letters E and D being neighbors in the basket, is it possible that as typists were getting faster, the E and D type bars were frequently jamming on words ending with ED as in "she talked too much". By crossing the links, the much lesser used letter X worked as a spacer between E and D thus reducing type bar jams.

Theory # 2: Olivetti/Underwood 21's are showing up more frequently simply due to the age demographic of the population. These machines were being bought new by young people going into college back in the early to mid 1960's. Those people are now going into retirement homes and their houses are being cleared out by their children or grandchildren, hence these machines showing up more frequently on local online buy and sell sites.

Any thoughts or opinions welcome as always. All the very best,


We humans go through many computers in our lives, but in their lives, typewriters go through many of us.
In that way, they’re like violins, like ancestral swords. So I use mine with honor and treat them with respect.
I try to leave them in better condition than I met them. I am not their first user, nor will I be their last.
Frederic S. Durbin. (Typewriter mania and the modern writer)

25-12-2020 00:35:09  #9

Re: Olivetti-Underwood 21

M. Höhne wrote:

Guth, maybe, but where's your "local"? These things were never evenly distributed. If you want an Olivetti, be glad you live wherever you do; there are precious few Olivettis in northern New England, compared with Royal, Smith-Corona, and Olympia, and even Underwood and Remington.

I'm located in Portland, Oregon. That's an interesting observation as I've never contemplated the possibility that some brands would sell better in just certain parts of the country. That said, aside from the 21's that appear around here regularly, I don't see that many other Olivetti models for sale in this neck of the woods with the possible exception of the Studio 44. By comparison, I've almost never seen a Lettera 22 or 32 for sale locally. Do keep in mind that I've really only been paying close attention to the typewriter market around here for the last half year or so so my sample size is definitely on the small side.

Interestingly, just earlier this week I was browsing typewriters at an antique mall in the area. Sure enough, there was a 21 on hand. I didn't note the branding however so I can't say whether it was an Olivetti, an Olivetti-Underwood, or an Underwood, but regardless it appeared to be in very nice shape.


25-12-2020 15:57:44  #10

Re: Olivetti-Underwood 21

Well the patient (Olivetti-Underwood 21) survived the morning srugery and is doing well.

I tipped the machine on to its side and sprayed the platen knob, release depressing knob, and the ratchet mechanism with PB Blaster 3-4 times over a 3 hour period. 

Slight tap on the release depressing-knob with a plastic block and my rubber mallet did the trick.  Depressing-knob now pushes in and comes out.  Ratchet free-wheels then when depressed.. And the CR lever now ratchets for line spacing.  No need to bend/form any metal and no typewriter was harmed in the process. 

Spent another hours with liberal amounts of denatured alcohol to vacate the smell of PB Blaster from the typewriter. 

Great way to spend a quiet Xmas morning before the dinner activities kick in.  Happy Holidays !!!

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