11 June 2012

Oliver No. 5 and Printype

The scan is worse than the original. The paper was left in the typewriter for a few days and is curled, and it was hard to get it straight in the scanner.

This is an Oliver No. 5, a "Standard Visible Writer". I am not sure what is "Standard" about it. It is very unique and innovative. It is also not "standard" by any sense of the term. Here are my impressions of it (despite some cleaning still needing to be done):

  • It looks "tall" on the Internet, but in person, I think it looks short and squat.
  • It types very, very smoothly. If you press a key, you get a good impression with no variation.
  • It has a three bank keyboard and double shift, however, it shifts back and forward (depending on the shift key used). This has the floating pinky and awkward shifting like the Corona 3.
  • If it were not for the three bank keyboard, the design is probably one of the best for typing action. So smooth and easy.
  • Carriage return is interesting, you just press the knob over and it automatically advances as it is pressed (when it gets to the beginning of the line).

This is a "Printype" model, which has a thick typeface. It is like an old printed book. I know Olivers were sold on lines of credit door to door. When the Great Depression hit, people defaulted a lot, and the typewriters were repossessed! Imagine that, someone coming to repossess your typewriter! Of course, it is made worse because it would have been one's only typewriter most likely. I'd be unhappy enough if one of my typewriters was taken, let alone 100% of them. They'd need to make several trips and I think could some though. They would never know when they were done.

Oliver No. 5 typewriter

Oliver No. 5 typewriter

Oliver No. 5 typewriter

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for this, your descriptions are very helpful. I'm one of those who would've guessed that the Oliver 9 is tall and not the smoothest typer.

    I've been dreaming of acquiring an Oliver 9, you're whetting my appetite.

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    1. This is the Oliver No. 5, but I think the operation of all of this design is similar in typing most likely.

      It is a different construction, but it is much deeper than it usually looks. The last image shows this.

      The smoothness was unexpected to me too. It seems that the design is smooth by nature because it is not fighting gravity, but a spring. It is a very interesting machine.

      The typebars are the highest points, but they go up about as high as an Underwood No. 5 is tall. The Oliver is more narrow than the Underwood No. 5. In fact, all the dimensions are different from that kind of design. The profile is tall, but the actual dimensions are stout.

      The man who fixed my Remington Portable and 6-pitch Smith-Corona is the one who sold me this, for a very good price. He knew I wanted one, and he contacted me and offered to meet with me to deal with typewriters. He couldn't stay long, but he sold me this and a Remington Noiseless Portable (which is next, however, although I have had the post written for a while, the Remington Noiseless Portable is almost all black, the body, keys, and platen, and it is hard to photograph). He also returned the repaired Smith-Corona at that time. It was a very good day.

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    2. J.F., thanks for the extra info. Noted.
      I would think that the Oliver 5 and 9 are of a near-identical make. Interesting point that your 5 is no taller than the Underwood 5.

      Yeah, we get good days like that every now and then.

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  2. very nice! my Oliver is not printype, sadly, but I like it. I keep having trouble with the line advance. I think I have disengaged it again.

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    1. Mine is on double space, and I cannot figure out how to change that. I manually turned the platen knob to make it single space after returning.

      That is one thing about the Oliver, at least this model. All the controls are wherever they are mechanically convenient.

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  3. The company was actually liquidated in 1926, which, of course, was prior to the Great Depression. Your story of Oliver typewriters being repossessed is true, but it was because of a recession in 1921 and 1922, not the Great Depression. I recently received one of these No. 5's after my grandfather died. Needs a good cleaning and I need to find someone able to maintenance and oil it. It's a lovely piece of machinery.

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    1. Thanks for the correction.

      I will pray for your grandfather.

      It is a wonderful typewriter design. Very smooth and easy to type on.

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  4. It is the greatest three bank portable type writer ever made! Van Zandt taught a system of typing for the Oliver that had you shift the home keys one key to the left so the right pinky didn't wave in the air.

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