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31-5-2018 01:30:22  #1

Underwood Number 5 questions!

I just bought a 1913 Underwood No 5. After receiving it I noticed immediately that it was lacking an envelope guide - that little bit of metal that folds out from the center of the line indicator/ruler. Instead, I have a short, flat bit of metal that is attached firmly on the right side, while the left side sticks out and is held under tension by a very small pin. This pin is pushed vertically through two horizontal plates. The pin had nearly fallen out when I got the machine. None of this setup seems to have any purpose. I am wondering it it is the remains of what was once an envelope guide, or if some Underwoods were made without one. Here are some pictures:

Additionally, there are no signs of the "Underwood Standard Typewriter No5" decals that usually adorn the very front of these machines, just under the spacebar. Again, where some No 5's made without these? 

ONE more question: What is the story behind some No 5's having white-backed keys and some having white? Were they offered at the same time as different options?


31-5-2018 02:21:15  #2

Re: Underwood Number 5 questions!

EDIT: I found that it once did have the front decals, but at some point the entire case was repainted except for the very front of the machine above the level of the keyboard. Under bright light I can see the outline of the decals under the spacebar, as well as pin-striping on the sides of the machine, and the patent dates on the back. It has all been painted over! The untouched areas have a yellow tint and a crackled effect of the paint that is quite distinct. I bought the machine from shopgoodwill for $50 and I am wondering if I should ask to return it. 

     Thread Starter

31-5-2018 09:33:49  #3

Re: Underwood Number 5 questions!

You're thinking of returning it because it's been painted over? That happened many years before shopgoodwill got it, and may have been done as part of an overhaul/rebuilding. Consider that part of the history of the machine. Later 5s became less ornate, no doubt because the decals and pinstriping added to the production cost.

There are plenty of Underwood 5s out there, and another one will come along with all the original paint. For me the question is, how well does it work?

As for the question about the envelope guide, there are instruction manuals for the Underwood 5 online. See if you can find one that explains what this is.


31-5-2018 15:43:05  #4

Re: Underwood Number 5 questions!

Seijun wrote:

I am wondering it it is the remains of what was once an envelope guide, or if some Underwoods were made without one.

The envelope guide is missing, and the "flat bit of metal" is the flat spring that goes behind the envelope guide.

I do not think you should ask to return the machine. If Goodwill was able to ship you a standard without it getting destroyed in the mail, they have done their part, and returning it would be asking too much of a thrift store.


17-6-2018 18:46:26  #5

Re: Underwood Number 5 questions!

I agree with SoucekFan and Fleetwing - unless you paid a high price based on representations that the machine was mechanically and cosmetically perfect and it was damaged or misrepresented then I would not be looking for perfection. My favorite Underwood 5 is a centenarian that is far from perfect: battered but unbroken is more the idea. It saw a lot of use and has obvious signs of that use but still produces a fine imprint. I like it because it has endured and I bought it when not many people wanted it, not because it is perfect.


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