Saturday, September 03, 2011

Just My Type

D. and I hit a couple of yard sales around here this morning. There was nothing specific on the "look-for" list (although I was, as always, hot for books and bookcases, which weren't on sale today), but it was a lovely morning and a bit of wandering seemed like a great idea.

One of the sales was, well, interesting. It was an everything-must-go "estate sale," which meant we could wander through a house filled to the gunwales with knick-knacks and objects of all kinds, plus three or four well-fed kittycats lurking to see what all the fuss was about.

And I bought something:

Initially, I mistook it for a label-maker

It's a Simplex Typewriter, Model 1, vintage 1892 (so one info source says), nestled in its original box. It would be difficult to imagine a simpler device: the operator inks a little pad below the "keys," turns the type-wheel to the desired letter and pushes the lever next to the wheel. The wheel moves automatically, and there's a latch that allows it to return at the end of each line.

By modern standards -- even then-current standards -- it's pretty basic. A standard sheet of paper won't fit, and the stop-and-add-ink routine would get tiring in a hurry.

I look at it as a kind of primitive Blackberry on which people of that day could tap out their "text messages."

Later versions, it is said, added lower-case letters. In any event, the Simplex Typewriter was gone by the early 1920s or thereabouts. They were produced in huge quantities, and apparently many survive.

So why did I buy it? It's neat and I like it, that's why. Also, the seller initially named a price that was roughly the sum I would have offered, and reduced it quickly when I hesitated. Without haggling, I thought it a good deal.

And I like toys.

Besides, one cannot be a writer without owning a typewriter. I will from now on mention the little Simplex to anyone who questions my bona fides as a writer....

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