Totally Your Type had a recent post entitled “Be Patient. Look Everywhere” that offered words of encouragement to typewriter hunters. The gist: sometimes, when and where you least expect them, typewriters happen. You just need to be patient and persistent.
My Goodwill NEVER has typewriters. It has stereos, waffle irons, sad clown figurines, acid wash jeans, golf clubs but NEVER typewriters.
I was at the auto parts store nearby picking up some Liquid Wrench and open end wrenches for my LC Smith 8 vertical type adjustment project and decided to stop in at Goodwill just in case. I was under no illusions that I would find a single typewriter, but there amidst the toasters and Igloo coolers was an Olivetti Lexikon 80.
It was like I had seen the storied Great White Whale, Moby-Dick. A very grimy Moby-Dick. I have heard tell of great typewriters at Goodwill, but here was one in the flesh. I thought typewriters at Goodwill were a suburban legend, but lo! I quickly reached for my harpoon and brought the great beast in.
This Olivetti Lexikon 80 fits all my qualifications for a great typewriter:
- Very dirty (I like to clean typewriters)
- Not working too well (I like to tinker with typewriters)
- Cheap (this one was $18.99)
Plus, it looks pretty easy to strip down to the machine guts. I got the Lexikon 80 home, researched it a bit and found Rob Bowker’s inspirational Lexikon 80 dismantling. Wowie. This typewriter will be an awful lot of fun to clean.
And: it’s got the beautiful sweeping lines of Moby-Dick. Thank you, Marcello Nizzoli. And like a sperm whale, the Lexikon 80 weighs somewhere between 40-50 tons.
1952 Olivetti Lexikon 80
The serial number is 2246770 – which makes it a 1952? Typosphere, correct me if I am wrong about the date.
This Olivetti has a thick layer of tobacco grime – residue from what could be a “hoagie + stogie” typing habit. But hey, no judgments here! Since I got my L.C. Smith No. 8, I now understand the importance of a good cigar while typing.
Here’s a short video with a very clean Lexikon 80 at the Indianapolis Museum of Art
Beautiful, beautiful Olivetti. Let’s see how the Grimy Whale cleans up.