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?


  1. I do like the peacock blue ribbon.

    Your Imperial may have belonged to an academic. The cross character could be the dagger character used in footnotes:

    The other special characters (cf, ib, pp) may have been used to annotate scholarly articles.

    1. Yes sir! thank you for the additional information!

  2. Beautiful blue ribbon, and beautiful Imperial!

    I agree with myoldtypewriter, those very uncommon characters would be useful in academic writing.

  3. Congrats on the blue ribbon, looks good on paper and the ribbon looks great in the machine too :-)
    Some machines have really travelled the world indeed. Also here in NW Europe some more foreign keyboarded machines sometimes pop-up.