My First Typewriter

Smith-Corona Sterling Series 4A SN-4A129529

Until a few years ago, I loved and embraced technology. Digital was the only way. Buying the latest and greatest I could afford. Sometimes riding that financial line too close, phasing between red and black.

Something changed over the last five-ish years. Maybe it’s my age, turning 42 this year. Despite what triggered it, I went to analog for some items. Even if it’s just getting fewer features, no longer buying combo devices, or just fewer moving parts that can fail.

I still buy new technology. During this transition, I also shifted from PC / Android to a fully Apple household. To me, everything just worked better together, simpler. Still times I yell at them to do something. When things get bad, there is only one company to call for tech support.

Finding writing as my passion during this time as well, maybe this was a mid-life crisis. Wrote the first draft of a novel, 97k words, over the course of two years. I have written on PC, Mac, iPad, iPhones. Then one day last year in July I decided I wanted to write on a manual typewriter. There are hundreds of styles and looks to manual typewriters. So I downloaded OfferUp and searched for ‘typewriter’, scrolled through the results to see what sparked my interest.

This was where I quickly figured out style there was one style that drew me to it. I feel everyone has their own specific style of manual typewriter they default to when asked to imagine one with no other information given. Mine was shiny black, round keys with a raised metal ring at the edge of each key. White on black keys. This turned out to be a specific era, from 1900s to 1940s.

I did not know what to look for, how they functioned, what was and was not repairable. Pricing was all over the place, but mainly split into main categories. $60 and under. Good luck if it is fully functional. $300 plus, these work and work well. Typically repaired by professionals and wanting to recoup their time. And it’s well deserved, as I have later come to know.

When I bought one to write on, there was no intention of collecting them. I started with one that was cheap and repair it myself if it needed to be. A Smith-Corona Sterling stood out from the pack. It was not shiny, but check all the rest of the boxes in my head. It looked like it was wearing a tux with the dual thin shiny stripes amongst matte flat black paint. Never once did I think to ask the seller if it worked. For $25, I was just happy to find one so quick.

Smith Corona Floating Point Sterling 1945
Smith Corona Floating Point Sterling 1945

The sound of the keys was like music. The bell sent a wave of pure joy through my body the first time I heard it. Sadly, I manually slid the platen to make it happen. The drawstring had broken. There was a decent amount of rust on the underside. So I made the bold move to take it fully apart to clean every part. About five screws into taking it apart, I was using the wrong screwdriver. I stripped the head of a screw. I stopped there and looked for one that was working.

Its case was falling apart. Release latch to take the typewriter out was even rusted and took a little effort to move. My ambition was already high. I wanted to rebuild the case. Make it look brand new. Maybe even create a better one out of a good hardwood that would take a stain. When I make it back around to doing the restoration of the machine, then I will do the case.

I will finish this out with a few more shots of the typewriter when I first got it. Looking forward to showing the finish product one day.

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