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20-11-2022 12:58:21  #1

Originality vs Frankenwriters

As my collection has grown, I've acquired multiples of several models. This tempts me to combine the best bits from all duplicates on a single machine. For example, I've got an FPS in drab grey with a nice typeface, and an FPP in yellow with a standard pica typeface, which tempts me to put the colorful shell on the FPS. Both are perfectly good machines, but I could make one a little nicer and one a little less so. Or, pulling the page gauge from my rough-but-working '51 Sterling to put on my pretty good '49 Silent.

However, the historian in me cries out for preserving originality – especially as I get rid of machines to make room for other models. I feel that I should maintain the machine as found, though cleaned, adjusted, or even restored. 

For functional issues – e.g. pulling parts off a non-functional parts machine – it makes perfect sense to do so. But for aesthetic or creature comfort issues, I'm a little more torn. 

I'm curious about how others approach this issue of originality. 


20-11-2022 15:18:40  #2

Re: Originality vs Frankenwriters

Over the years my preference has shifted. I own typewriters in mint condition as well as typewriters in cosmetical 'bad' shape. As of recently, I have discovered I am inclined to use the worn, heavily used machines more than the pristine, shiny ones. To me, the 'ugly' machines are more inviting to use. Apart from that, I find it rewarding to bring back to life a machine that nobody is interested in. Like the Gabriele (see link below) I recently serviced. A couple of years ago I would be annoyed by the damaged body, especially the back panel of the carriage. I would have looked for a parts machine in order to 'restore' the machine. Now I am happy I did not do that. It is a mechanically perfect working typewriter with signs of usage and a few scars. It's unique.


20-11-2022 18:48:00  #3

Re: Originality vs Frankenwriters

I have picked up some parts machines in the past to get 1-2 othesr working again.  Did  this with a 3rd. Underwood-Olivetti 21 to get two others up to 100%.  And took a complete carriage off of an Olympia SGE-35 to replace one on my cursive-scipt SGE-35.  But I still feel like a Dr. Frankenstein from time to time for doing so.

I have also repainted a perfectly good ribbon cover on 3 of my machines just for fun and to brighten up the look of the machines.  (See photos, below.)

And, again, for fun and to add some interest...I have changed color on a few machines's key-tops to make them "come alive" a bit more.  (See photos, below.)  These are pretty easy to "un-do" in the me or a future owner.



21-11-2022 10:49:02  #4

Re: Originality vs Frankenwriters

Pete, as an Olympia SG1 aficionado it took me a moment before I finally focused on the spacebar. The light color tone of the spacebar seemingly has equal weight to the rest of the keyboard in this photo! George


21-11-2022 12:36:49  #5

Re: Originality vs Frankenwriters

Hi George,

It was a spare I picked up when an owner parted out a SG3 machine.  I still have the original space bar...but I like how a bit less brooding the SG1 looks like with the cream coloured one.

Did the same with my Royal QDL...picked up a green bar and stashed away its original.

Only for the electric S-C did I take a spay can out for its space-bar.  The red "Tab" key-top was from an Olivetti machine I parted out.


28-11-2022 00:00:20  #6

Re: Originality vs Frankenwriters

I like Laurenz's point to let machines be what they may - a delightful typer is still a great typer even if it looks odd. I've got a Sears Citation that I love to type on. I really don't like that period of styling, and the case was filthy when I bought it (for $20). But, it worked so well when I got home, and I enjoy using it so much, that I don't really care what it looks like. 

I also like Pete's idea of reversible changes. The body swaps I'm considering would be that. 

So, I think in the end, it's a case-by-case situation...

     Thread Starter

30-11-2022 00:20:25  #7

Re: Originality vs Frankenwriters

I like original looks. I feel ill every time I see a classic motorcycle turned into a cafe racer.


30-11-2022 02:51:18  #8

Re: Originality vs Frankenwriters

I'm also a fan of original paint.  My feeling is that typewriters are in limited and dwindling supply - every time one is painted, that's one less original piece left in the world.

Having said that, I don't begrudge anyone from painting a machine that they just don't get along with.  Better to be happy with it and to give it a longer life.

On the other hand, I cringe at the "boutique sellers", one in particular that shows up on Youtube - she has her husband paint just about every typewriter that comes into her shop and then resells them.  The colors are gaudy, pinks and yellows and pastels - often mismatched with the other trim pieces.  To me, that's just a step away from hacking off glass keys for jewelry.  Please stop doing that!  (I know - it won't happen).


30-11-2022 17:43:55  #9

Re: Originality vs Frankenwriters


I think that couple/shop more recently left Tacoma WA and are now setting up in Cleveland OH.

I guess if you can add black & white paint to an Olympia and try to get $ 1200 asking for leaves me speechless.


01-12-2022 02:34:42  #10

Re: Originality vs Frankenwriters


I like some of your modifications. Really cool.


"Typewriters don't judge you, they just take your words and translate it to writing"

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