Back in July, I shared photos of three typewriters which cost very little money. All eBay. All fell in the "nothing to lose" price bracket:
- First, a British-made Corona-Empire. Approx £9. Works fine. I don't like it - not sure I'd want to inflict it on someone else, so probably won't sell it. I may give it away. Then again, I might just need more time to get used to its ways. At least it doesn't take up much room.
- Another Brit. This time Hull's finest Imperial Good Companion Model 5. £0.99p. Despite pristine paint and innards, this typewriter had been dropped and the soft case didn't offer much protection. I spent a long time fixing the space bar and it will work properly... one day. I can't complain, the seller rescued it form a skip. Right now, it is a 'work in progress'.
- Finally, an Underwood Noiseless 77. £15. I just picked this up from its half-way house where it has languished for the last three months. I already had a brace of earlier Remington Noiseless Portables and their awkward cousin, the Remington Rand Model 1. Three heavier, less quiet machines you'll never find. And of course the Remington Noiseless was an Underwood Noiseless made under licence. You have to love it when something is made and sold with such hope and promise, despite falling so short on most counts. It is not really a Remington, nor is it Noiseless in any generally accepted sense of the word, and Portable? Put it this way, I wouldn't like to have to run for a train with it! Surely, this explains why a genuine Underwood-badged 77 seemed such a good idea.
First impressions: surprise! Pretty much like a Remington. Solid and crisp controls for everything except typing, which hesitance of touch is an acquired taste - that's the famous 'silent' treatment at work - it is pretty amazing how it works. This post-war model has the finger-friendly plastic key tops and stealth matt paint job. Compared to the Remington incarnation, the return lever has the élan of a fencepost. And the bobbin-tops are plastic too. But this WAS 1947, even in the USA - post-war austerity and all that. Still, it is built like a tank and to an impressively high standard. I'd do a typecast to show how it types, but it is late and it would make too much noise.
Two anomalies: the $ key produces a £ sign, and the cent key produces the slashed c it promises. Obviously there was some confusion in the final assembly about which side of the Atlantic this one was headed for - so the assembler compromised. Or was it a cunning US imperialist plot to assert a new currency on an unsuspecting British public. 64 years later and we still aren't ready to part with our £.