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Remington Rand 5

April 26, 2007

I used to classify myself as a Luddite. I have romantic notions of living in Arcadia, some pastoral wonderland where I sit beneath a tree and think about poetry and philosophy all day while the sheep tend to themselves. Or as a member of the idle class, possessor of a low-ranking but well financed fiefdom where I can sit beneath a tree and think about poetry and philosophy all day while someone else tends the sheep.

Certainly, there is no unpleasantness, no starvation, disease or poverty in my romantic past. We’re all equal, yet somehow we manage to have servants. Unfortunately, there is no stereo or toothbrush, no hot running water or air conditioner either. I’d miss those. I like my internet, I just don’t like car alarms keeping me up at night. I think we’d all be better off without cell phones, unless I’m trying to meet a friend in a crowd.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m a perfectly normal Luddite of convenience. I dream about an idyllic past I’d rather live in if I could take with me every modern invention that I find useful.

One of the ways this tendency has shown itself is my attraction to antiques. Now I also fancy myself a writer (who, unfortunately, for the most part, doesn’t write), so my favorite antique is the typewriter. It connects all of my impossible dreams and brings them right into my house, where I can constantly be reminded that I will never have what I really want.

This one here is my first. It was a gift from a friend and it was quite meaningful in two ways. First, that he cared enough to go on eBay and pick this up for me; and second, because he showed me that I could actually have something unusual that I wanted. I didn’t have to satisfy myself thinking wistful thoughts about how nice it would be to have…whatever it is I wanted at that moment.

This particular typewriter has an additional attraction–it has an apparent history beyond its obvious age. The “CD” sticker on the side shows that it was a part of my country’s civil defense efforts during the cold war. Maybe even before. I’ve so far been unable to track down its exact purpose, but it pleases me to think that it was used by a journalist in WWII. If it wasn’t, I’m not sure I want to know.

Here’s the side view with the sticker:

Remington Rand 5
One of the wonders of the internet is that everything has a fan base; no matter what you are looking for, someone out there knows stuff. Relevant stuff. One site I will probably refer to often on this blog is The Classic Typewriter Page maintained by Richard Polt. It shows this model, the Remington Rand Streamlined #5, was made between December 1935 and December 1940. So my WWII hope survived the first piece of investigation. So far it’s the only piece.

On the carriage beneath, there is a sticker that has been thoroughly obliterated with a thumbnail or a dime. Too bad. I have not yet located the serial number, even though I followed instructions on where to look. The serial number probably won’t get me far, but it is the only next step I can think of.

From → Typing

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