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06-2-2018 19:41:45  #1

Smith Corona 88 Secretarial Ribbon

Hello everyone,

I'm the proud new owner of a Smith Corona 88 secretarial and I am looking for some information about ribbon. Is generic ribbon that has the same size spool fine or are there some considerations outside of the obvious that I need to pay attention to?

I see at my local Staples I can get ribbon for $9.99 CDN but I want to make sure it's going to work before I buy it.

Any help you can provide would be awesome :-)

Also, if there are any other smith-corona 88 secretarial owners out there let me know!



07-2-2018 12:31:04  #2

Re: Smith Corona 88 Secretarial Ribbon

I have some marked "Secretarial" and some marked "88" and none with both. Some of them take regular standard "universal" spools and other take the Smith-Corona spools with the very large opening in the bottom to fit over the reversal mechanism, and that's the distinction, that large hole. If your spools have that, you need the S-C spools or you should rewind any ol' ribbon onto your original spools and you'll be fine. If your spools have the same size spindle hole on both sides, you can use  a universal spool.

In any case, don't discard the metal spools. People want them. 


07-2-2018 16:17:30  #3

Re: Smith Corona 88 Secretarial Ribbon

analogger: Michael explained it well, but the short and dirty answer is that one way or another the Staples ribbon will work in your typewriter.

​If you want to be absolutely certain, post a link to the Staples page or part number for the ribbon and I'll confirm it. I used to buy ribbon off the shelf from my local Staples but now it has to be ordered online for pickup at the store.

07-2-2018 16:47:29  #4

Re: Smith Corona 88 Secretarial Ribbon

A further clarification -- if the typewriter has the special Smith Corona spools (and I think it does), then those don't work with the "universal"-- type ribbon that has metal grommets at each end, unless you perform a bit of surgery on the ribbon. You'll need to modify the ribbon to cut off the ends, including the grommets. The grommets will interfere with the ribbon reversing mechanism. 


08-2-2018 00:48:55  #5

Re: Smith Corona 88 Secretarial Ribbon

Thanks everyone for your awesome answers. I do believe it is the larger metal ones. I posted a picture here for someone to confirm. Would someone happen to have a video link or something to view how to use the universal ribbon on the original spools?  How to wind it on I guess?

Let me know if the picture doesn't show.


     Thread Starter

08-2-2018 04:13:25  #6

Re: Smith Corona 88 Secretarial Ribbon

Yes you definitely have the large spools and you will have to rewind the fabric from a 'universal' ribbon.  If that ribbon has metal eyelets set into the ends, you must cut that section of ribbon off to get rid of the eyelet.  Rewinding is actually pretty simple. Remove the old ribbon from the machine, run the old fabric off into a wastepaper basket then unhook the ends from the little metal arrow-heads.  Take your new ribbon and detach the end from one of the spools (they usually come with two plastic spools these days)  Hook the loose end onto the arrow head on the metal spool.  There are different methods for winding the fabric, but an easy way is to roll the spool along a flat surface, following behind with the plastic spool paying the fabric out.  Once the metal spool is full, unhook and discard the remaining plastic spool and hook the end of the fabric onto the second metal spool.  All done


08-2-2018 08:21:25  #7

Re: Smith Corona 88 Secretarial Ribbon

Great thanks a bunch! Fingers crossed I won't screw it up haha

I'm going to give it a good cleaning and tune up first.

Thanks again.

     Thread Starter

08-2-2018 14:01:09  #8

Re: Smith Corona 88 Secretarial Ribbon

Just to follow on to thetypewriterman's description, make sure you're winding on the ribbon in the correct direction, since if you mess up you can't merely flip the spools as you can with the universal spools. I'm pretty sure (but confirm!) that the right spool winds on ribbon counterclockwise, while the left spool winds on ribbon clockwise. There may even be arrows stamped into the spool cups on the machine showing this, or just play with the machine with no ribbon spools mounted to make sure..


08-2-2018 20:20:54  #9

Re: Smith Corona 88 Secretarial Ribbon

Hi Analog

​Although you can't flip these spools over, you can switch them side to side if you found the ribbon has been wound on backwards.  All the best,


A person who sees Quality and feels it as he works is a person who cares.
A person who cares about what he sees and does is a person who's bound to have some characteristics of Quality.
Robert M. Pirsig. (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)

08-2-2018 20:45:05  #10

Re: Smith Corona 88 Secretarial Ribbon

,<giving myself a dope slap> Of course you are correct. Sorry to be an alarmist.


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