Identify my Dad's Vintage Typewriter
February 16, 2008 8:25 PM   Subscribe

Help identify my father's Korean war-era typewriter.

Flush with success from the successful identification of my father's vintage camera, I'm now hoping that the hive mind will be able to help me identify his typewriter.

My father served in the US Army during the Korean war as a radio operator and clerk. It was during that time, I believe, in which he acquired a small portable typewriter. It is possible that it either pre or post-dates the actual conflict, but I'm pretty sure I remember him saying that he used it during the war to write letters home. The green color suggests that it might have been some sort of military-issue, but it seems unlikely that he would get to keep a military typewriter after being discharged, right? I would very much like to identify the make and model so that I can keep my eye open for one that might cross my path but I've not had much luck. Here's what I can remember about the machine.

The typewriter was green, maybe even "Army green," and had a metal case that wrapped around five sides of the typewriter (not including the bottom). When encased the unit was more or less square with a flat top (case), flat bottom (typewriter), and rounded corners. The case had a small (leather?) handle that would retract flat against the case when not being used. To remove the case you pushed small metal buttons on, I believe, either side of the handle to release some internal latches. I remember that the bent metal spring on one of the buttons didn't work very well and the button didn't stick out of the case as far as the other one.

Once opened, the carriage return lever sprung up to make it usable. Small, flat, chromed pieces of metal could be folded up behind the platen into a V-shape to hold the paper upright. Like many older typewriters it was missing the !/1 key. You typed an 'l' (ell) for numeral 1 and .(backspace)' to type an exclamation point. I believe it also lacked a semicolon, making you type :(backspace), to get one on paper.

I seem to recall that the brand name was one I recognized, such as Smith-Corona, and not some obscure european or Japanese make. I've poked around on the web quite a book looking at pictures of old portables and I've yet to see anything that quite matches.

Any insight or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
posted by LastOfHisKind to Technology (4 answers total)
 
It sounds like a Royal Typewriter, the aristocrat model. I doubt it would be an Olivetti, which was my first thought although it could be that because by 1951 the US was importing Italian war material and the Italy participated in the UN mandate to make war in Korea. I recommend that you contact the VFW, who will no doubt be able to put you in touch with other Korean War radio operators and army secretaries who can verify (beyond this board's ability) what kind of typewriter your dad.
posted by parmanparman at 9:40 PM on February 16, 2008


...had.
posted by parmanparman at 9:40 PM on February 16, 2008


I own two, roughly similar to what you describe. They are the made in Switzerland Hermes Baby. I can take pictures and send them to flickr.
posted by Baud at 4:06 AM on February 17, 2008


Just to follow up, using some of the names you guys suggested I found some more pictures online and I'm 99% sure it was a Smith-Corona Skyriter. Thanks!
posted by LastOfHisKind at 8:44 AM on February 17, 2008


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