Thursday, December 23, 2010

Olivetti Valentine Portable Typewriter Sottsass Design

Hello !
Here is my pre-Christmas post. Given the festivity I think that this typewriter fits well with the theme :-)

This year I have added to my Christmas Gifts "Wishlist" some typewriters. I was very happy to receive what I think is one of the best looking typewriters ever made: the Olivetti Valentine designed by Ettore Sottsass. This typewriter, produced from 1969, became so popular in terms of industrial design that is among the few displayed at the  Moma Museum of Modern Arts in New York City. 

The one I received has a Swiss-German Keyboard layout (QWERTZ with öä vs ÖÄ in the Germany layout) and, as you can see from the pictures, it is in excellent conditions:

Lovely decorations that came along with the gift :)

Detail of keyboard layout

a bit on contrast with the new macbook air 11" ;)

The typeface is pica 10 very crisp and flawless. Sure It is a fairly average typeface but the beauty of this typewriter and the fact that it is a xmas gift makes it very valuable to me.  It is not easy to find a relatively special typewriter in these conditions and it always takes some manual work to bring them back to life. In this case the typewriter has been oiled (by the way I highly recommend this  this oil available on ebay it is fairly inexpensive and as a synthetic oil it does a good job) and cleaned throughout. 

I have personally seen several Olivetti Valentine on Ebay Germany for 300-400 Euro (even in not so good conditions) but Switzerland, being a very small country hence a small selling market, finding one here it is not that easy. 

In terms of typing it is simply excellent. The basket shift makes writing a pleasure and the action is as fast as other more famous olivetti like the lettera. 

Yesterday I did manage to reorganize my collection so here are 
some ideas to avoid ending up with the house / flat full of typewriters: 

a) Be realistic with your space possibilities: try to understand how many typewriters you can really host. In my case I live in a fairly big flat and my basement was pretty much empty. Now it is not as I did switch many typewriter downstairs. Not for lack of love but because they arrived in a status that makes them unsuitable to my needs - for now. 

b) To be successful in point a) you should try to understand which typewriters you like more, would like to have and how many. My mistake was jumping from one to the other losing focus. It is not always a bad idea but you should try. To some it is very old pre 70's typewriters. To others it is metal only (in this case the Valentine wouldn't fit as it is mostly made of plastic) etc. 

c) Be organized: even with limited space you can probably host 10-15 typewriters if you do have a well organized space to store/display them. This was another mistake I did and I recently rectified with some Xmas cleaning. I have now been able to organize the collection in a more usable format where I do keep outside the typewriters I am more likely to use on a regular basis.

d) Last but not least: transgression to self imposed rules are a fact of life so while you can't always stick to self imposed limits, try to succeed most of the time !

Obviously these rules are not universally applicable to everyone but in my opinion if space is an issue focus is important.  What I am also trying to do is to give away (for free or almost) typewriters I don't plan to use or are not likely to be part of my permanent collection. This helps in making space for some more interesting typewriters !

Oh...this is not the only typewriter I received for Xmas so feel free to check back in a few days for further updates. Till then have some great and relaxing holidays !
David @

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Brosette Typewriter - Manual Portable from the 50's

The Brosette is German fairly rare typewriter (excellent information about these typewriters are available here ).
I was lucky to buy one of the second newer generation from Retro Tech Geneva which I will not feature in this post mostly because it is well displayed on that blog so I wouldn't want to run a duplicate post.

What I will  present are two I was lucky enough to find and buy from Germany. One is a Brosette Spezial from the first production in 1953 and the second is apparently from 1954 with a shiny paint finish. 

Starting with the first: this was bought by a Typewriter Mechanic that did I great work. It was anyway in good conditions but some of the details let me think that it was further improved.

Here is how it arrived, with the case in excellent conditions too:

On the back there is still the plate from the dealer " "Heinzel and Reitzner, Hersbruck/Mfr.”"

The paint finish is different than later version. It is the first time I saw this model anywhere . It is a lighter green than the usual model 1 Brosette 

It looks like this something has been replaced or new rubber ?

Serial Number 12852 

Here is the second Brosette: This is a later model that features a shiny paint finish. I did pay less for this one but have spent several hours to bring it back to life (mostly cleaning, I am not really a good mechanic) 

Nice Logo ! 
Typeface is the standard Brosette Pica but very crisp 

Serial 16766 

And here they are together 

 Retro Ad

I hope you have enjoyed this special on Brosette typewriters. These are certainly very special typewriters: what I find unique is the portability (highly portable for the 50's) and the simplicity yet beauty of the design. In terms of typing experience I was lucky and both are very much usable. This is certainly important to me ! On the other hand, given the relative rarity of the Brosette, I am somehow afraid to use it too much but will certainly do from time to time !! 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

100% Cotton Paper and Handmade Hermes Baby typewriter business cards

Hello Everyone !
I just wanted to share an innovative (or well, at least I think so) way to make some unique business cards. These are going to be as unique as letterpress business cards (you can see some amazing ones from Dolce Press here) but in a very different way !

First of all as you can't really beat the visual WOW effect of many fantastic designs you need to have a very special paper.  The Paper has to stand out as if you do create the same business cards in normal paper it will just look like something  very cheap. Nothing wrong with cheap but, as the name suggests, the business card should drive you business or at least keep you in business :)

In my experiment I am using hand made 100% cotton Amatruda Amalfi Paper made in Amalfi, Italy (just close to Naples on the coast). It is made in Amalfi since the 12th Century with pretty much the same process.

This particular format (10x7cm) it is all but cheap (47.50 Euro x 100 cards that is around 66$) but on the other hand you are not going to pay any printing cost beside your own work ;-)

Obviously you can use much less expensive yet special paper. For example there is the curious sheep poo paper that is fairly priced yet very unique. I am using that for some letterheads and, beside the fact that like the cotton paper is done entirely without killing any tree. Entirely organic. There are hundred of possibilities so as long as your paper looks special the price doesn't really matter !

In my case I just love the Amalfi one so I decided to try it out. Here is one of the cards before the printing:

It has a  different texture than the normal Amatruda writing paper. It is not flat yet not a laid paper. It still have the typical texture and signs of cotton, hand made and hand cut paper 

For the second step you need to summon a typewriter :) in this case the Hermes Baby from the 70's 

Some attention in rolling the paper into the typewriter is needed. This is a smallish format so you need to set the right margins or at least be sure that you are not wasting (given the step price of the paper) one or more cards !

And here is the final result:

Below with a slightly better formatting 

 multiple copies of the same card - each hand typed ! (so it would be a bit like letter pressed!)

What do you think about the result ? 
Well obviously this isn't for mass production of several hundred cards  (If you need that, I recommend Moo.Com  that is rather inexpensive and allows you to print in two siders with your own photos on one side) but it could work well for few (50-100-150) cards. 

Before you start thinking that I am totally crazy ;) I do have some regular business cards too. For these I have used a typewriter like font (not for the whole card but for the address and telephone number).

Yet the "real thing" is a card entirely written with a typewriter as above. Obviously this isn't letterpress  or anything as fancy but I think that few (certainly not all) receivers can appreciate the difference in a 100% hand made card (paper is hand made and so the printing).  I feel that a script typewriter is very suitable for this as regular ones can be misunderstood for one of the several hundred of typewriter-like typefaces. 

Let me know what you think ! I eagerly await your comments

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hermes Baby Orange Typewriter 70s Script Font !

Photos  from my desk 

Here is the 70's or 60's Elephant that I bought from the same seller together with the typewriter.
They travelled in the same box but I don't think that the Elephant had a lot to write during the trip :)

And here are the original auction Photos, yes I know much better than mines !!!