I have owned and used a lot of typewriters. You'd expect that from a retrotechnologist, especially one who spent her early adulthood shopping mainly at garage sales.
For some reason (namely, capricious whim), over the last few weeks I have fiddled with, sometimes bought, cleaned and used many more of the machines and I have found something out.
If you're gonna go spend time off the grid and write your memoirs, especially if you're going to be traveling light, some choices are better than others. Among small machines with conventional keyboards, the names Olivetti, Smith-Corona and Royal may be better-known but Remington's smaller and cheaper "Remette," "Envoy" (2nd type) and similar models like the "Remette Deluxe," "Smith Premier Portable Junior" are the hot ticket. They take much less effort on the keys than other portables of similar size, weigh less, and have a sleek, low profile that takes up minimum space. They appear to be pretty common and the going rate on the big auction site is something near $50 for a decent one.
There was at least one other big typewriter maker that built portables Back When. My three-row Underwood is marginally smaller then the little Remingtons, types well with nearly as light a touch on the keys, is about the same weight or a little more and it is built like a brick necessity (or an Underwood, as happens); but it has that non-standard keyboard. Their four-row portable is sturdy as can be but significantly heavier and examples I have laid hands on show signs of hard use; they were professional machines and most were well-worn when they were put out to pasture.
So if your plans include letters to the Editor from an unheated bunker in the woods -- or a remote tropical island -- my advice is to pick up a little Remington.
...I hear they made some fair guns, too....
3 months ago