I’ve been testing out my new Royal 1920s typewriter, (yes I have a new one, delightful photograph below), and its been settling in nicely. Testing and typing is therapeutic. I set up my cup of tea, lean back, type a thing, evitably make a mistake and try to backspace, end up making a mark that looks like a distressed bird, scrap it, retype, get lost, and as it turns dark. I’ve been penning strange letters to no one in particular as a result. I still can’t resolve the margin issues and now all my lines still look like they are free-flying. The ‘b’ key fails to work and so I venture to do a little skipping continuous click to keep up with the momentum. Faster and faster it is a race that I must catch – I am a little shopmistress in a cloth boutique handling the cash register – cling-ding!
The shop owner’s wife collects typewriters. She has a pretty one called ‘Princess’ that I love. My mind strays to an amusing anecdote that H had told me, about a little girl he met in Philippines during a work trip who told him that her name was Princess. H cannot stand princesses. He has high expectations of girls to be proper and independent and not whimsical and spoilt. I think otherwise, and that a Princess typewriter sounds enchanting! I had asked the shopowner if he had a typewriter in pink, or mint. He had laughed and said that those would definitely cost upwards of a thousand dollars, because of their rarity. For me, I feel my typing soul feels black and old. So the one I got is just right. Though sometimes I am charmed by a little bit of cursive, or a straying musical note. Imagine a typewriter that types music – Like the Olympia modified manual typewriters! Function or nostalgia?
“According to the History of Music Printing website, the MusicWriter was invented by Cecil Effinger, a noted choral composer and music professor who created his first prototype in 1946. His company, Music Print Corporation, worked with various manufacturers (including Olympia and Smith Corona, the creators of this particular model) to produce more than 5,000 MusicWriters from 1956 to 1990.
The keyboard was used to put musical characters on any page. You could work on manuscript paper or use the MusicWriter to create even the staff lines. Unlike a typewriter, the MusicWriter carriage does not advance after striking a key: the user has to very carefully position the paper wherever they want to add any character. Many items, including slurs, ties, and beams had to be drawn by hand. Details of how music was created with the MusicWriter can be seen here.
While ingenious for its time, the MusicWriter didn’t handle transpositions, apply music spacing, or do any of the countless things we take for granted with software today — even in the $10 Finale NotePad. A Boulder History Museum webpage acknowledges this disparity: “Unfortunately, due to the advent of computers, MusicWriters quickly became obsolete.” – finale blog
Some of my favourites that the shopowner has owned/owns:
Authors and their typewriters…
The shopowner told me that they sometimes have gatherings at the Penny University cafe where all the typewriter-struck folks in Singapore gather, set up their typewriters and type their thoughts – a decidedly hipster affair. Lugging the box itself (my typewriter claims to be portable) is fatal. However, I still think it sounds enchanting! They also gather to do typewriter related craft activities and watch old documentaries on vintage typewriters. Somehow it sounds like something that you, Irving, would love to do too.
The story of how I came to get a typewriter- how and when did it start? But I had been flipping back on this blog’s archives one of those days and I had found that actually I had mused on wanting a typewriter AND a recordplayer in 2011. H’s declaration that I have been struck by G.A.D (gear acquisition syndrome) would be right. I think I am satisfied with these (for now, he claims), and dream on typing and playing a Carla Bruni record on a rooftop sometimes.
I’m thinking of taking custom orders for quotes, letters and such, but thats for another day…