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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

preservation of individual history

When I photographed my “new” Media, the name label on the spacebar jumped out at me.  I thought with all the beautiful renovation/refurbishing of typewriters in the blogs lately that I would rationalize my own failure to even adequately clean mine by parading some of the marks left by prior owners.
I have several whose owners used good old Dymo Labelmakers, which after Mr. Messenger’s post I now think of as simplex typewriters.

I have three machines labeled this way and I also have three Dymos, by the way – eventually they will see use in a post.

Others have used handwriting, either by pen

or Dremel tool

The other category of historical tagging is that which gives clues to the machine’s working life.  This is usually in the form of a small label or asset tag, sometimes with a tracking number.

And finally, there’s the tag meant to be seen by the person on the other side of the machine – customer, client, whatever they are called in context.  This one is from the police department FP:

So when I see these marks I tend to preserve them.  I even try to look up previous owners but have come up empty.  I have plenty of machines so the few bearing this provenance won't be stripped or repainted or even too thoroughly cleaned, but instead I will remember that these were tools that may have worked very hard before they came to me.


  1. Interesting post. I just peeled off a dymo label of a previous owner from a machine I got but took a picture of it for posterity. That's how I do preservation. Otherwise, something in me wants to claim complete ownership so off with those labels haha!

  2. Wow, I didn't know you had a Remington Noiseless Standard from the 1950's... Those are hard to find! I'm also getting one soon! Could you post some more pictures?

    this is the one with a 16-pitch gothic typeface.

  4. Good topic. These souvenirs may be "unsightly" but they are part of what give the machines substance and character.

  5. I love those labels and stuff. I keep them on the majority of my machines.
    I found a Hermes Baby at the thrift store - the Baby that came in a leather-like little carrying case - and the previous owner had painstakingly scratched her name - In Script! - in the metal of the case's clasp, in the ribbon cover, and on the underside of the machine. Also on the underside: her SSN. That's the only other time I've seen that until I came across your picture.

    That's truly a remnant from another, more trusting time.

  6. I didn't know you had so many typewriters! Most of mine come without anybody's name on them, though once one had an order form for ribbons taped on it....

  7. Hi, this is Rich, half of the team for the recently-created Two Typewriters blog that you commented on. I just wanted to say I enjoyed this entry. I am a record collector and, though these marks detract from a record's "mint minus" condition, I I like owning records that previous owners have marked up somehow.

  8. Thanks Rich. Yes, part of the interest in older items is the meaning they had to their users. With typewriters it's a curiosity about what was created on them.


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