This is my typewriter.
It’s a 1931 Remington Portable. I can’t be 100% positive but, after thorough research, I’m reasonably sure that it’s the same model as George Orwell used. I found it in my local junk shop on an occasional table in the middle of all the baskets of jewellery, tea trays stacked with yellowing board games, wigs, cigarette cards and porcelain ornaments. It’s exactly the kind of shop that Orwell described in one of his essays: Just Junk – But Who Could Resist It?
As well as designing for Zammerchat, I’m currently working on a book about Orwell so when I saw this typewriter buried amongst all the clutter, it seemed as though it had been placed there for me to find.
It now sits pride of place in the Zammerchat attic. I like having it around because, aside from the Orwell connection, it’s such a solid piece of machinery – a crafted object, dependable and practical. It’s built to be portable so the return handle doesn’t stick up. Instead the hammers of the keys are lowered by a pull-out slide on the right, the paper feed knob slotting into the spool. It can all be neatly compacted using a solid set of mechanical levers to make it easy to pack away and carry.
It takes less time to get ready for typing than it takes for my laptop to boot up.
There are some other quirks that I’ve grown to love. On the back it says:
There’s a guarantee on the inside of the carrying case:
It also has keys for fractions – these are the most yellowed, the most untouched by the stamp of fingertips:
The names of some of the previous users are stained on the ribbon: Mary, Elizabeth, Emily. The keys hit home with a satisfying clack. You know you’ve written something when you hear that noise. It still works, 80 years after it was built.
I can’t type on it though, I make too many mistakes, re-write things too many times. I’m lost with out a copy and paste function. I’ve been spoilt by too much technology.
It feels good to have the typewriter around. It serves as a reminder of the fundamental basics of our craft, basics that are often obscured by focusing on the latest technology.
Maybe I’m just being pretentious. Maybe, after all, it’s just junk. But, as Orwell said, who could resist it?