Nightmare Repeated

So when this little Hermes 2000 arrived, nightmare again! Second time in April!

What nightmare? Please check my previous post.  I'm speechless.  Who would use Walmart plastic bags to bundle typewriters nowadays?  Who would use such a dilapidated box to ship precision machine?


Broken Royal 10 ....heart is broken too.

It all started three weeks ago. I saw a Royal 10 on eBay. It pulled my heartstring.

You see, I've always wanted to own a Royal 10, either carriage shift or basket shift. Many typospherians have sung high praises of the machine, for its sturdiness, modern design and the sound it makes when keys are hit. Seems to me it's the dream machine.

The following two pictures are from the original post on eBay.Who can resist such a beauty from the 1930s?

The next thing I remember is I woke up early in the morning, bid ferociously,( the machine garnered 33 bids, and yes, thanks to at least a dozen of shill bids, which I don't mind) even though I'm clearly aware of the huge huge shipping cost I have to pay. I'm not a rich Chinese, I just love to pay for things that I love. 

After winning the bid, I immediately gave very detailed packing instruction to the seller who is based in Morgan town, West Virginia, but obviously he ignored. He replied everything is already packed so no changes could be made. I literally said to myself,"OK, it's fine then." thinking that the seller is probably an antique dealer because the pictures in the original post looks professional and the seller has 100% rating. And he's American, people I trust. 

Three weeks later, the regular courier guy knocked the door on a Monday morning, and shouted" You've got an international parcel" My heartbeat quickened, but when I actually saw it, it skipped a beat..maybe two!  There's a hole on the outside packaging, a bad omen for what's inside. 

To make the story short, one knob is broken, one side glass is off, the frame near the keyboard on the left hand side is broken, the foam under the typeslugs is off too. The last straw is, the carriage is forever in the pictured position, indicating serious internal damages. You can hear tinkling sound from inside every time the machine is lifted up.  

Who's to blame? I think the seller should shoulder the bigger portion. The packaging is far from being adequate. He used only two thin layers of foam to wrap up the machine, leaving the knob area open, which is prone to damages during transportation. Even worse, please take a look at the worn-out box he used to transport a precision machine! 

I demanded him to take back the machine. For one thing, I don't have a place to store a broken desktop typewriter. Sooner or later, I'm going to have a Royal 10 in excellent working condition. I live in a small apartment. My family is already complaining about the growing collection. Secondly, he probably knows how to restore the machine. I collect, but don't know a thing about restoration, plus there's no spare parts available in Shanghai. Americans are said to be handy people and DIY is a popular pastime in US, for which I greatly admire. 

He accepted and refunded me fully.Now I'm waiting for the post office to open. In China they normally open at about 8:30. 

But who's responsible for my broken heart and almost a month's stomach butterflies! 

Asking for help: Any typospherian wants to sell me a Royal 10, in excellent condition and preferrably elite typeface? Please contact me. As for price and shipping cost, please be reasonable. Thank you. 


The Ingenious Edison Margin Justifier

Has any typospherian ever seen this Edison Margin Justifier? How does it work?

I saw it on the book Mechanical Typewriter that I bought a few years back. It is supposed to even up the right hand margin. According to the author,Thomas A. Russo, it was manufactured by Jusifier Sales Company in Los Angeles and could be mounted on most typewriters. 

Very ingenious device. My hat off to its inventor. I've always wondered how typewritten tests can be evened up on both margins, except calculating the exact number of strokes in each line. The Justifier seems to be the solution. But I've never seen it on eBay, so it must be rare. 


The Typewriter Revolution Arrives in China! Let's sabotage!

Earlier this afternoon, just as I was wondering when on earth the book Typewriter Revolution could be delivered, the courier appeared right in front of me, holding a big yellow envelop and asking me to sign on it.

Yes, it's the book Typewriter Revolution that Richard Polt sent to me. Finally, it arrived after almost a month's waiting.

Look how meticulously Richard has wrapped up the book layers after layers....And I think the tinfoil could be re-used right away in a bake oven to prepare tonight's dinner!

The address was neatly typewritten....yeah...how could Richard possibly forgot to do that as a typewriter enthusiast?

On the second page, Richard autographed for the book and also wrote Chinese characters for "typewriter".......... That's some good penmanship.......well, for a foreigner.:-p

To those who don't understand the dilemma I'm facing with: buying books from eBay US is prohibited. I think the restriction is set by US rather than by China side because buying book from,for instance eBay UK, is without any hassle. (It is probably because China and US's disputes on intellectual property issues for which China has a world-wide notoriety.)

When it comes to book purchases on eBay, I usually ask friends in US to help. But for this book, who can be of better help than Richard himself?I sent him an email directly.

I didn't know the book had been published until quite recently. B-spot was blocked in China...Well maybe block isn't the exact word. You see, most international websites,including Google, Facebook, Youtube and Twitter, cannot be opened here.

How come? Blame the Great Firewall of China (GFW)!

Starting from 2008, (if memory serves me right) a "white-list system" was launched by the Chinese government in the name of fighting against pornography and terrorism. It's a step-up from the CISCO-empowered Jindun (Golden Shield) Project China that has since 1993 to fight against computerized crimes. In 2002, China started to completely censor Internet information. The Ministry of Public Security requested that all foreign internet companies wishing to operate in China to register their Internet domain with agencies affiliated to the Ministry, which then would issue license to them. Those who didn't register or denied a license were denied entry.

In this way, the Chinese government manages to keep their hands clean by saying: "You see, it's not that we don't allow foreign internet companies to operate in China. It is their responsibility to prove that they will comply with Chinese laws and regulations in the first place."

But why eBay/Amazon is not blocked? Because China needs eBay/Amazon for export. And for hundreds of thousands of trade-oriented manufacturers in China, especially those smaller ones, eBay/Amazon is their livelihood, more so against the background of a worsening foreign trade sector in recent years.

Therefore in order to browse other typospherians' blogs on B-spot, I installed a pay-for-service VPN (Virtual Personal Network) to circumvent the restrictions.

VPN is gaining growing popularity in China. Friends and colleagues frequently and openly exchange information such as which VPN provider offers the best deal. The communists know the situation. Many believe that they tacitly approve its wide existence. There is a time when VPN was even censored/banned from Chinese search engines and social media platforms, but now they are becoming more visible.

There's no legislation criminalizing the use of VPN. Find your own way to browse these "banned" websites is also OK. So don't worry, I won't be arrested for what I've written on the blog. After all, China is not as bad as North Korea.

You probably will ask: "Isn't that a loophole in China's legal system?" My answer is no. In my humble opinion, it has a lot to do with the Chinese philosophy: We are a people who don't believe in absoluteness. Instead, we believe in mildness and moderation. Government officials are Chinese, so they cannot be exempt from such thinking.

More importantly,the communists are fully aware of the fact that, in today's information age, academia needs to search for information online, and businesspersons need to communicate with their clients using web-based mail services such as gmail. If completely blocked,none of these could be done in this country. Then the nation's cultural development would stall, economy collapse and people's livelihood destroyed. If that happened, what would be the purpose of building a clean and secured country?

I assume that the communists also feel somewhat guilty for blocking the international websites, but they are simply too incompetent to find better ways to "protect" the virtual space of such a vast country like China with varying levels of development in different parts and in different fields.

Why would they feel guilty? Because like many generations of Chinese born after the WWII, they were also repeatedly taught and constantly reminded of since early childhood that it is the arrogance and ignorance of the late Qing Dynasty(1616-1912)rulers who hermetically sealed off the nation from the rest of the world, plunging the nation into 100 years' of impoverishment,debility and repeated foreign aggression, and that China cannot afford another darkest period in her history. It is their conscience that tells them, if completely blocking international websites, they would be the modern-day Qing Dynasty rulers. They surely know what would come next. Trust me, they don't want to be that sinner!

Paradoxically,even government's tacit approval doesn't rule out nationwide crackdowns from time to time, particularly when VPN providers publicly advertise their services and competing for clients. Obviously, their omnipresence is viewed by relevant government departments as a blatant challenge to their authority. This is another typical Chinese mentality: We know what you are doing secretly, but just don't flaunt it.

That said,I'm not justifying that blocking the country's Internet connection with the rest of the world is right. I tried to provide some perspective from where I'm standing.

As for Richard's book, I feel obligated to get a copy. As an avid typewriter collector from China, how can I afford to be left out in the global typewriter revolutionary cause?  To me, with a sufficient supply of used typewriters, US to this typewriter revolution is what the erstwhile Soviet Union is to the proletariat revolution!

Thank you Richard! You have got a fanboy in China. For the next several days, I will be reading it.

And, Ladies and Gentleman, ( drum up )

To prove my allegiance to the typewriter revolutionary cause, I now solemnly proclaim that, from today on, I, Shen Yi (a.k.a Gerard), serve as the General Commander of the China Brigade of the Typewriter Revolution. Let's sabotage from within the Internet Dictatorship!

(I'm expecting deafening applause from typospherians around the world.)


The Blue Ribbon Arrived! ....and Label of an LA Typewriter Service Co.,

Finally, the blue ribbon I ordered from a factory in Guangdong (Canton) Province arrived. It's not bad, right? The best part is that the 8-meter long ribbon costs 14 RMB (approx US$ 2)a piece.

I tried to convince the seller that he should consider selling color ribbons on eBay as there's an entire typewriter collector community looking for something other than the boring black-red ribbons. But much to my disappointment, he replied that he was not interested at all because selling mechanical typewriter ribbon is only a small part of the business. He mostly sells ribbons for office equipment such as clock-in machines and printers. Anyway, he agreed to produce 5 all-blue pieces without any extra effort, that is, when he produced something blue for a client.

Pictured here is a type sample using the new blue ribbon from a 1940s British Imperial, elite typeface. I don't know what color it appears on your screen, but it's a kind of brilliant blue similar to that on a white-blue Chinese porcelain. It's what we Chinese call peacock blue.

A white-blue porcelain

Meanwhile, I spotted a label of a typewriter service company on a Royal 10 sold here on www.taobao.com, China's ebay. Did you see LA on that? How did the machine travel such a long way and end up in a Chinese antique dealer's hand? There must be a story behind it. Does the name Burton ring a bell?


Large Spools of Hermes--Mystery Solved!

Several fellow typospherians replied to my previous "Hermes Question" post, for which I'd like to say "thank you".

Now the mystery is solved: the two large vertical spools at the front are for carbon ribbon. Indicated on the spool in green is the feed-take mechanism and ribbon path. The Hermes Ambassador has two sets of ribbon vibrator: one for the regular nylon ribbon, the other one carbon. Correspondingly its color switcher has four positions, carbon, black, read and stencil.

In 2014, renowned Australian typewriter collector Mr. Robert Messenger posted a video on his blogspot, demonstrating how this sophisticated two-ribbon mechanism works. It's very interesting to see.

I've attached the video in this post. Though in the first part of it, Mr. Messenger introduces the de-jam feature of Ambassador, which, to me, is not a novel idea as all Chinese Flying Fish desktops come with a de-jam key and I've seen a lot. Just in case you are curious about how Chinese typewriters look like,please refer to my previous post of which a link is provided.


You may fast-forward Mr.Messenger's video to the latter part if you are more interested in its carbon ribbon mechanism.

Now an obvious question,why bother to have two sets of vibrator? Is carbon ribbon superior to regular ones? Is it to compete with the electronic typewriters already popular when the Ambassador was launched in 1970s?

Sorry for being so inquisitive.

Hermes Question

Could anyone please tell me what the two spools at the front of the Hermes desktop typewriter are for? They are certainly not for the ribbons, aren't they?

Thank you.


Question about Olivetti Linea 198

Has any of you seen or tried on an Olivetti Linea 198?  For a long time, I thought it was only a concept as I had never seen it on eBay. Because it is one of the last typewriters that have been built so they should be everywhere on ecommerce websites. I'm curious about its bold print function. How is it made possible ? Does it work good?

An Old Picture of Madame Chiang Kai-shek (aka.Soong Mei-ling)

A portrait of Madame Chiang Kai-shek, first lady of Republic of China, typing on a Hermes baby.

Madame Chiang is known for her elegance, eloquence, knowledge and also hunger for power and being corrupt.


A Hermes 3000 with Director Pica.

No offense, but I always believe that Hermes 2000 & 3000, Optima Aztec and mid-century Erika are the best typewriters.I like them because of the snappy touch feels they have. Olympias, on the other hand, have sloppy feels so it is not included in my list of favorite machines. Royals are my favorite US machines.

The Much-coveted Royal Portable Model P with VOGUE Typeface.

This post is enough to make some of my fellow typospherians jealous. I just got a Royal portable with VOGUE typeface. Yeah, I said it in your face,VOGUE typeface. :-P

The story started almost a month ago,before Chinese New Year. I was having some major typewriter kick. So what could I do? Log on eBay, and browsed new offers pages after pages. Frankly speaking, most of the times I would end up with nothing but frustration!

However this time, something came up and caught my attention.

Nothing special right? but just as I clicked open the post, I found something rather unusual. 

I was almost 100% sure that it wasn't the all-too-common PICA typeface. Just take a look at the characters such as J, M and U, It was so obvious that they didn't have the serifs. So I immediately asked the seller to send over a type sample. 

All eBay Sellers, please automatically include a type sample pic in your post because only a type sample can tell exactly how the machine works! So please don't make me ask! 

The seller replied the next day, saying that the ribbon had dried out, implying that he wouldn't do it. But I insisted and told him that only a type sample could convince buyers that the machine was in working condition. He did send one but it was as blurred as this 

Nothing much to be seen! How disappointed I was. I sent a second message right away, telling him to swirl the ribbon spool a little bit and that there must be a certain spot/spots that hadn't totally dried up. This time however, my message went unanswered.  

But the blurred images at least solved one mystery, this Royal portable Model P had the much-coveted VOGUE typeface as Vs and q's didn't have serifs.  Then another problem, what if the machine didn't work properly?  Although the seller described it as in good working condition, what if he didn't know any better?  I had bad experiences buying from eBay. It wasn't the seller's fault, most of them were general antique dealers, so they knew little about typewriters. To me, a collector from Shanghai, China, shipping costs usually exceed the machine itself. 

FYI I'm not a rich Chinese! I know, right at the moment, there are many of us all over luxury stores in U.S. When it comes to spending habits, I think I share a lot in common with ordinary Americans, that is, not much on food or clothing, but never skimp on hobbies. In my case, typewriters!  

Then I agonized immensely, for the next several days!  

In the end , I decided it give it a shot, not only because the seller got 100% positive ratings, but also he always signed off his messages with God Bless You All!  To me, normally a religious people won't lie. And that guy is from the Rhode Island, somewhere between the Massachusetts and Connecticut, two rich states in the Northeast US! There's no need for someone living comfortably to cheat a foreigner on eBay. Last but not least, I have confidence in Americans. 

So I bid on the machine. I met no rivals as no one bid against me at all this time! It seems no one ever found this gem! Then after a 1 month waiting, I finally received it yesterday! 

Ahh...Again, US and its people didn't fail me. Lovely machine, isn't it? 

The only problem is that one piece from the right knob chipped off when I opened it. It wasn't the seller's fault as the knob as shown in the original post was complete. So most probably it was damaged during transportation. But it's OK, see, nothing is perfect right? Perfectionists are pathetic.

I just sent a Thank You letter to the seller, telling him I'm very satisfied with my purchase and I appreciate all his efforts in packing and shipping the machine.  

As a routine, the roll call at the end of this post. Please enjoy, probably with your eyes green with light of jealousy. :-P 


My favorite typeface, what's yours?

Like what's indicated in the title, the following pics I found on typewriter database really turn me on! Dear fellow typospherians, what is/are your favorite typeface?