Ask The Desk: Typist’s Desk and Purse Pens

Ask The Desk Header

Robert asks:

As a writer, I recently purchased an electric typewriter for drafting content. What kind of supplies are appropriate for setting up a vintage typing desk: lamps, pens, paper, erasers, etc.?

(A still from All The President's Men via The Young Folks)

(A still from All The President’s Men via The Young Folks)

If what you are hoping to do is to create a classically vintage workspace, be sure to go through the Vintage posts for recommendations on classic items to add to your space. If you’re looking for specific items designed to function best (vintage or new) with a typewriter set-up, then here are a few recommendations.

  • Remember that the platen travels so you need to have adequate clearance around your typewriter. Don’t set your coffee cup down in the direct path of your typewriter platen or you’ll end up with a big mess (ask me how I know this).
(via Utrecht)

(via Utrecht)

  • A swing-arm or flexible lamp will be a great option to direct light where you need it. I use a Lite-Source Swing Arm Combination Lamp ($89) that is several decades old on my desk at work. It clamps to the edge of the table for stability and moves in all directions. It uses a fluorescent tube plus an incandescent bulb which can each be used alone or in combination for bright light. A less expensive alternative is the Adjustable Swing Arm Lamp ($15.99). Both designs are classic and would be aesthetically comparable to an electric typewriter.
  • For paper, standard 20lb paper from an office supply store should be fine. I would not get paper any heavier than 20lb (like standard black-and-white copier paper). If you’re looking for classic onion skin-style paper, carbon paper, or other classic style, check out Ebay. I put all kinds of paper in my typewriter but I try not to use any paper that’s too heavy. It will end up having a curl to it as a result of being wrapped around the platen.
  • As for erasers, you could try a typewriter eraser or liquid correction fluid but I think modern correction tape is far more effective, easy to use with no odor and no eraser flakes dropping into you typewriter, gumming up the works.
  • Pens are a matter of taste and preference. If you are using standard 20lb paper to type and want a tool to annotate changes and edits, a red or blue pen or pencil would be recommended. Fountain pens might bleed or feather on standard paper so I would say keeping a stash of pencils would be classic, in keeping with your typewriter. Maybe even a red/blue pencil or a mechanical pencil?

Harvest Thick Red/Blue

  • You might also want to consider a copy holder or other method for displaying a previous page while typing. For a vintage look, this one would be particularly nice.

Phil asks:

Looking to pickup a small ballpoint pen to go in my wife’s wristlet (Vera Bradley Pushlock). My thoughts were Monteverde Poquito or maybe Zebra SL-F1.¬† Gel is okay, but she prefers a no fuss tool above all else.
Suggestions?

I confess that I don’t think I could pull together a better assortment of pocketable/purse-able pens than Jet Pens’ Mini Pens post. And I agree that the Monteverde Poquito Stylus would also be a great choice and it has the added bonus of the stylus at one end for digital devices. If your wife prefers ballpoint pens, she might also like the Kaweco Sport in the ballpoint model. It takes the Zebra 4C refills like the Zebra SL-F1. And, of course, you can’t go wrong with a classic Parker Jotter. Best of luck, Phil!

Typewriters on the Oscars

Penelope Cruz and Robert De Niro present at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California March 2, 2014.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES TAGS: ENTERTAINMENT) (OSCARS-SHOW)

Penelope Cruz and Robert De Niro present at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California March 2, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES TAGS: ENTERTAINMENT) (OSCARS-SHOW)

I’ve been scouring the internet trying to get some information about the typewriters used as a backdrop in last night’s Oscars broadcast during the Best Writing categories. Did you see them? I haven’t been able to find any information about the typewriters, who owns them or where they came from (the Museum The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, maybe?). If anyone finds any information, please leave a note in the comments.

Somehow, in my searching, I found this photo instead:

 ( New York Public Library ) Nine women pose on a really big typewriter on display at the Underwood Elliott Fisher Exhibit at the New York World's Fair, 1939-40.

( New York Public Library )
Nine women pose on a really big typewriter on display at the Underwood Elliott Fisher Exhibit at the New York World’s Fair, 1939-40.

Thank you, internet non sequitur.

Paper Mechanic Typewriter Calendar

Paper DIY Typewriter Calendar

When someone mentions “typewriter” and “calendar” in the same sentence, my ears prick right up. Add in a little paper mechanic magic and I am already writing the blog post in my head.

This darling little desktop calendar stands in its own 3D foldable typewriter. Just print out the pieces and assemble. Consider it as a great Tuesday morning office project. It is available for instant download for $4.99 via Sky Goodies on Etsy.

(tip via Teri of Fiberterian)

Link Love: Long Labor Day Weekend Edition

I’m taking off for the Labor Day weekend but will be back, re-inked, freshly sharpened and opened to a clean page on Tuesday. In the meantime, enjoy the diverse collection of links this week and feel free to explore the archives! Happy Labor Day!

Pens:

Inks:

Paper and Notebooks:

Misc:

Instagram Loves Office Supplies

I have been following lots of office supply geeks and letter writers, artists and designers and I just thought I’d share some of my favorite Instagram photos from the last few weeks.

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Clockwise from top right: Uppercase’s Crafting Supplies, Pencil drawing of Sug-ums by Eabaddeley, Caran D’ache candy colored mechanical pencils found at Greer Chicago by DovBee and Vintage Airmail Envelopes by Scoutshonorco

insta-collage2

Clockwise from top right: Canadian protractor ruler by Rad + Hungry, Paper Delivery by IvanR, Notemaker J. Herbin ink bottles, and Pencil Pal Pencils from LetterLoves(I sent them to her)

insta-collage3

Clockwise from top right: Vitagum erasers captured at Hammerpress by HelloBF, Portuguese wax crayons from Rad + Hungry, Office work space by Pugly Pixel and New-to-her Smith-Corona typewriter from Adamihasegawa

Typewriter Ribbon Box

IMG_8508

This is another bit of vintage office packaging from my ever-growing collection. The box included the metal spools and the two-tone ribbon. Written in pen on the box from the previous owner, “old spools replaced 3/1/88″. I wonder if she bought this box in 1988 or if it was in her office for 20 years?

Oh, the little paper ephemera treasures!