Friday, 9 December 2011

Just My Type

I’ve done my Christmas Cards and I’ve come over all ‘retro’ – I decided to do the envelopes on my beloved typewriter!


The Remington Portable was patented in 1922 [see the ad above] Forty one years later, when I was eight, I made it clear to everybody that I really wanted my own typewriter for Christmas.


They did these ones called the “Petite Children’s Typewriter” – except they didn’t have proper keys, just a wheel which you turned so the chosen letter was at the top, then you depressed the whole ‘mock’ keyboard, and a letter was printed. They cost about £5 [a lot in 1963]

Looking back, I realise that there was no way my Mum and Dad could have afforded that – but they were very sensible people. Dad went to the Office Supply place where he got his church stationery stuff [before the days of Staples or Rymans] and bought me a real reconditioned portable typewriter. I think he paid around £2 for it.

I loved it. I typed all my thank you letters on it, on Christmas Day straight after lunch. They all said

Dear Auntie and Uncle

Thank you for my present, it was kind of you to think of me. My best present was a typewriter from Mummy and Daddy. Best wishes for 1964, love from Angela.

The thing was I did them in batches using carbon paper [as I had seen Dad doing multiple copies of things like that]. Mum went up the wall, and insisted I did individual letters for everyone! I did some with the black half of the ribbon and some with the blue.

And this week I have typed my envelopes on that same typewriter


It is still going strong, after all these years – having travelled all round the country and seen me through my A level notes, and University Degree [and all my teaching practice notes at Oxford in 1976/7] I typed the Gestetner Stencils for the Christian Union Newsletter at Uni. I typed letters to all and sundry [including ones to Christine, with details of Simplicity patterns I had bought, and snippets of dress fabric stapled to the corner]

But for the last few years it has remained under its curious wooden lid in the loft- but it still works…


I have occasionally taken it into school and let the children use it, to see how things were ‘in the olden days’

It has lasted way longer than a little tin ‘Petite’ model would ever have done, I am sure. Now, in these internet days, for the first time ever I have researched the serial number. Believe it or not, my machine dates from the period 1929-1934! It was thirty years old when I got it [having survived WW2] and I have had it nearly 50 years. That’s where I learned my keyboard skills – and it was indeed the best present that year!

This ad is from 1922 when General Bruce attempted Everest. I wonder where my machine travelled to, before it reached me in West Hartlepool, all those years ago? Mine has a wooden lid, just like that in the picture.

everest ad

Tell me – how many of the keyboards you are working at right now will still be usable in eighty years time?

And no, I am not considering selling it – even if similar ones are fetching quite a lot on eBay. Like Gen. Bruce, I may need to tap out my story of effort, hardship and supreme endurance (it can sometimes be tough being a Pastor’s wife, you know!)


  1. What a brilliant present- things used to be made to last , as shown by your typewriter. I do despair sometimes of the throwaway world we live in, and the way that everything seems to have a price. I cringe when I see people selling their relative's war medals for a few quid on antiques programmes. Some things are worth far more than money.

  2. What a great history! I just checked - Ben's great uncle was on the 1933 Everest expedition, not the one in the advert! But they may have taken a typerwriter, all the same...

    It's great that you're still getting use of it after all these years. My sister (the journalist) adopted our dad's old typewriter when she was 8, taught herself to touchtype, and has never looked back. I don't know if she still has the typewriter, though.

  3. Scarlet - I agree that it is sad when people throw things away without thinking of their real value.
    Floss - I always suspected your family would be going up in the world!

    blessings x

  4. That's great! You still have it after all these years. I miss a "real typewriter". I've been tempted to purchase one at a local flea market, but don't know where I could get the ribbon for it. Where do you find your ribbon? Do you go on-line?

  5. I have had this ribbon for ages- no idea what I shall do when it needs replacing!


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