05 March 2012

The Corona Silent: The Speedline...Grace and Beauty

Don't mind the crooked scan...the paper kept moving when I closed the lid and I gave up on the third try. I reuse paper and they get a curl.

But this is the Corona Silent. It is the Speedline design which replaced the "flattop". I have not a flattop yet, so I assume it is a mechanical descendant of them, but until I get one, I cannot compare them. These Speedlines can be described in many different words. "Sleek", "beautiful", "shiny", "elegant", "sexy", etc all work.

And the interesting this is, it is not all just looks. The Super 5 series, of which my own example is also the "Silent" model (this differentiates them by part of the case design, the presence and type of tabulator, and the number of keys), is based on the Speedlines. The Smith-Corona Silent is a drabber, but mechanically refined, version of this. It is difficult to say one is better than the other. I suppose the Super 5 is slightly better for typing, given its new keys and a few refinements (but this may be the 10 year age difference being shown), but everything is in essence the same in function. They keys, as with the Super 5, are the best.

If one wants a historical, attractive, and good typewriter for writing, paying a premium for a Speedline would be a good buy. The glossy black and maroon finishes are perhaps the most beautiful of the batch. I suspect that the post-war models may have issues since they are the result of the resumption of typewriter making after the WWII gap (Smith-Corona made guns during the war). As with the flattops and Super 5 bodies, Speedline bodies were made (or used up) after the new models were released. One can therefore get flattops which were made after Speedlines were released. One can get Speedlines after Super 5 was released, and one can get Super 5s after the Galaxie body was released. This is probably a way to use up stocked parts and used in typewriters I suspect were offered at lower costs (although, I bet the quality of those models was the same and it was merely a marketing thing).

If you want one of the best typewriters and one of the most attractive, you can't go wrong with one of these. I tried to take some more photos, but taking a picture of a glossy black typewriter at the angles I was trying did not work out. I need a better way to get photos. But, pictures are worth a thousand words, and actually seeing one in person is worth a thousand pictures.

Corona Silent, 1939


  1. I have and enjoy very much a crinkle-finish Silent. It is by far the most beautiful typer in my collection. Even the wife likes it!!! (and she is a tough sell with this typewriter thing). I believe the only other typewriter that resembles this in beauty is the Royal Deluxe (not the QDL), with its flat top and mirror-like bands all around. Together in my display they are simply stunning.

  2. Hello. I just got one like this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Smith_Corona_Silent_Typewriter.png) -- any ideas on how to make it work? The keys stick and I have no idea how to use it or fix the ribbon. Thanks!

    1. Typewriters have many independent mechanical parts which all need to work and be clean in order for the typewriter to work. It is difficult to give advice on what to try.

      What I do recommend is do not do anything you are not sure is a good idea. A lot of good typewriters which need minor work get into a far worse shape because someone tried to oil it (do not do that!) or something.

      Try finding a typewriter group or repair shop for advice on your particular typewriter. The Yahoo groups are good.