CORONA FOUR – The Bug That Bit Me

(I don’t have time to type out my post today, so I’ll have to settle for the cold plastic keys of a computer…)

I bought another typewriter last night. A capricious move on my part, I assure you.

While reading through blogs on the typosphere last night, I came across the Munk.org typecast featuring a maroon Corona Four, which immediately reminded me how I got into this hobby of vintage typewriters. A little backstory…

Earlier this year, I took, for the first time, the family to the monthly swap-meet at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena (apparently, it’s one of the largest outdoor flea markets on the west coast). As we walked around, we came across a dealer with beautifully restored typewriters, and from what I recall they were all vintage Corona portables. The dealer happened to have two Corona Four models which immediately peaked my interest, as I’m into all things vintage. I struggled in my mind to come up with some rationalization which would convince my wife I really needed one. I could think of nothing. So I took the dealer’s business card, hoping I could later think of some excuse for getting one — an excuse which wouldn’t sound too lame to my wife’s not-at-all-credulous sensibilities. Now for even further digression…

My wife and I have four home-schooled children (three girls and a boy). My girls are big fans of the American Girls books and films. My oldest daughter’s favorite American Girl character is Kit Kittredge, because, like the book character, my daughter wants to be a writer. My daughter’s a VORACIOUS reader and enjoys writing — she’s ten years old and can touch type at 75+ wpm… I’m jealous (I set her up on her own blog here: http://littlereaderbookreviews.blogspot.com/). So I was online and thought to look up a toy typewriter for her (this was several months after the flea market excursion). And then it occurred to me that the Kit Kittredge film character was using a real typewriter which could probably still be found. So the hunt began. When I finally found which model it was (a 1930s Royal Standard Portable), I bought one from ebay. It cleaned up beautifully, and my daughter was naturally thrilled. At the time I purchased my daughter’s Royal, I decided to get myself a typewriter as well, with no good excuse beyond the fact that I wanted one (I was hoping my daughter’s typewriter would distract my wife from focusing on my own acquisition).

At first I looked for a Corona Four, since that was the model that bit me and set me on the course to acquire a vintage typewriter in the first place. But as I looked around, I began to notice all sorts of beautiful designs, and I eventually settled on a 1936 Underwood Noiseless 77, acquiring one in immaculate condition. For some reason, I had given up on ever getting the Corona Four. I did eventually buy a 1930s all-shiny-black Corona Sterling, hoping it could be the token Corona in my little collection. But, beautiful as it was, it just didn’t thrill me, so it was sold along with most every other typewriter I purchase. I just figured I wasn’t meant to own a Corona. Back to last night…

So there I am reading the Munk.org blog, and I come across the maroon Corona Four. I foolishly decide to peruse ebay (always a dangerous thing to do at 4 in the AM, when one’s brain is oxygen-starved). I see a black model Four in nice condition. I think to myself, it’s a great price, and I can make a profit if/when I sell it, so the risk is minimal. So, like a fish drawn to stink-bait, I bite. When I got into bed shortly after, I couldn’t sleep. My wife noticed that I couldn’t sleep. I lay there wondering when I would tell her that I purchased another typewriter, and this after telling her I was going to allow the wall of boxes (filled with typewriters) in my studio to evaporate. After a few minutes, I finally blurted it out. She took it well (after all, I always manage to make some profit on this hobby, so it’s not as if there will be any loss).

Okay, this is positively, absolutely the last typewriter I’m buying… I’m NOT a collector. I’m just an “enthusiast”.

12 thoughts on “CORONA FOUR – The Bug That Bit Me

  1. You said: “this is positively, absolutely the last typewriter I’m buying… I’m NOT a collector. I’m just an “enthusiast”.” That’s what I said once . . . 17 typewriters ago. Well, not quite true. I said it after 5 . . . Have fun!😉

  2. Welcome to the slippery slope! Be warned: do not look at the NOMDA type style guides on Munk’s website (especially Royal or Olympia). Do not look at the special typefaces on Strikethru.net or genevatypewriter.blogspot.com. They will lead you down the path to true addiction- I would know 😉

    • Actually, I really would like an Olympia SM4 with script/cursive font. I have a beautiful seafoam green SM4, but it’s not cursive font. So far, the only one I could find was out of my price range (which is a really stupid notion, because the aggregate cost of just two fair-priced typewriters is out of my price range, and yet I continue to capitulate to the siren song of what appears to be “a good deal”).

  3. The Bug has bit you and I seriously doubt that you’ve collected your last typewriter!😉

    I checked out your daughter’s blog and she is already an amazing writer. Very impressive!

    • Thanks, Cameron. That’s very kind of you. She reads more books in a year than I’ve read in my entire life, and it’s helped her with her phrasing and vocabulary.

      And between you and I, that Corona Four WASN’T the last one. Oh, well. Besides, I just use these for a while and then sell them. This way I can keep trying different models. I’ll probably sell the Four after I’ve played with it for a while. But they always leave my hands in better condition than when I received them. Part of what I enjoy about getting these is just sitting and doing a thorough cleaning. It’s a very therapeutic, relaxing thing to pass the time at the end of my work day. It’s more fun than doing crossword puzzles and cheaper than rebuilding cars.

  4. Huzzah! I’ve just discovered your blog and am reading the archived posts, and I discover that I’ve influenced someone to buy a typewriter! That maroon Corona 4 I picked up (He’s now called “El Diablo”) has jumped right to the top of my rotation and as soon as the platen re-covering businesses settle down (since the loss of Ames Supply), I’m having all his rubber re-done to bring him back to factory-new operation.

    If I can offer one bit of advice, that’s the bit I would offer. Old typewriters are great to type on, even with hardened platens, but If you’ve got a keeper machine that will be on your desk for the forseeable future, I highly recommend having the platen re-covered in fresh rubber. The difference it makes in typing pleasure and type sharpness is really remarkable. It even makes the aural experience twice as pleasant! (:

    • My wife thanks you… Just kidding.

      Thanks for recommending the platen recovering. I never thought I would need one unless I had a cracked or otherwise damaged platen which would make typing difficult if not impossible. I never realized that replacing just for a better typing experience was something to consider.

      I’ve read the posts you’ve written about the platen recovery business. Thus far, I’m not sure I could afford it. It sounds like it would cost nearly as much as I spend on the entire typewriter itself. Plus, I’m a mechanical illiterate, so I’d have to pay someone to do the physical work of removing and installing the platen (yeah, I can be pathetic like that). Still, now you’ve placed this bug in my ear, whispering to me that I need to have a platen replaced on at least one typewriter, just so I can experience it. Now, which one will be the lucky duck….

      • You will not regret it – My post today was made on a ’33 Remington I picked up at a yard sale for $15 that was, when I got it, in beautiful rust-free and spotlessly clean condition – except for the rubber, which was shrunken, hardened and had flat spots on the feed rollers which made paper feeding nearly impossible. I spent a bit over $100 on having the platen and all 8(! that was the expensive part) of the feed rollers rebuilt back when Ames was still doing it fairly cheaply. That was easily the best investment I’ve ever made for a machine, and turned it into something that might have rolled out of the factory last week instead of 80 years ago.😀

        Since then, I’ve done it to a ’55 Swissa and a ’64 Hermes 3k, and once things settle down, I’ll be doing it for the Corona 4. In those cases, the typewriters were already good performers, but new rubber just made them exquisite to type on. I would call it a “good stewardship” thing or say something about how it improves the resale value of a machine, but honestly, the machines I’ve done it to will *never* leave my corral, despite the Apostle Paul’s admonitions about being attached to material things😀

      • $15!!! Well, yeah, if I got a steal like that, I, too, wouldn’t mind paying the extra big one for a new platen. Unfortunately, I’ve never found a deal like that. I guess I need to start attending yard sales.

  5. Very funny post! I just bought at Corona Four at auction for $40 and I super thrilled that no one else knew the value of it, honestly I didn’t either until I started looking into it! So it will be a new part of my “collection” which only includes a Smith-Corona Corsair Deluxe I was given by my parents when I was 10! I think it is great your daughter is such a natural typist! Good luck with your “habit”!

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