I wonder how many times these keys have been struck, how many words were written and how many sheets of paper shuffled in and out of this old antique typewriter. This particular model (Underwood No. #5) provided a livelihood for millions in the first half of the 20th Century. A roomful of 20 or 30 secretaries all busily typing away would have surely been a clackety-clackety earful!
Saturday my Daughter and I went to a couple yard sales and she spotted this Underwood No. 5. The price was right at a perfect $5.
And I mean "perfect" in that our 14-yr-old Grandson likes to tinker. He likes playing with screwdrivers and pliers and drills. He used a bit of WD-40 to clean surface areas and was pleased that he got the space bar and the "stuck" keys to begin functioning. He thinks this will make a nice piece of "decor" in their living room. It's fortunate that his mother and he have similar tastes in interior decorating!
The No. 5 was one of Underwood's spectacularly successful models and was "the" typewriter for most of the first half of the 20th Century. You can read more about antique typewriters at The Classic Typewriter Page.
Being a retired secretary (the modern title is "administrative assistant") I had to put my own hands to the keyboard and try this out myself. I wonder if the secretary of yesteryear encountered carpal tunnel and arthritis from the constant pounding. And there was no "backspace/delete" key that would undo mispelled words or incorrect grammar. Oh, no. Instead there were erasers and later, that beloved (or hated) bottle of white-out. Every letter required a carbon copy which meant that erasures had to occur on the original as well as the copies. What a tedious task! My first week on the job, with only one semester of high-school typing, required me to type 50 copies of a fund-raising letter. They were duplicates except for the address line. The only copy machine we had was a thermofax (that will date me!) and fund-raising letters were of such importance that each addressee should receive his/her own "originally-typed" letter. I did a lot of erasing that week! And by the end of the week my typing had improved considerably!