Underwood Typewriter

by Angela

This is my latest typewriter, and I got it for free. It was advertised on my work website, I didn’t see the notice but one of my work colleagues (who knew I was obsessed with typewriters) told me about it. The man who was giving it away very kindly gave me a lift to the train station and I brought it home on the train. I was very tempted to sit at a table – take it out and pretend to do some work, but didn’t. I was getting enough funny looks already!

I don’t know what model it is and am not sure how old it is either. My guess is 1950s at the latest and 1940s at the earliest. Any typewriter geeks out there are welcome to correct me if I’m wrong. I would love to know what model it is, I’ve thoroughly examined it but can’t find a model number anywhere.  All it says is – Underwood Made in England. The next step is to get some ribbons for it and get it working. I think its beautiful and am absolutely delighted with it.

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22 comments

mise 27th November 2009 - 7:31 pm

Oh lucky you! Such a beautiful industrial machine.

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Angela 27th November 2009 - 7:34 pm

Thanks mise. I am very lucky indeed. Can't wait to get my ribbons!

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Anonymous 28th March 2011 - 5:59 pm

Hi! I am a total stranger but I came across this blog post on accident when I was browsing Google Image search for a picture of a typewriter that looked like mine. I think I have the same typewriter but I too can't find a model number or anything for it and since you posted this in 2009, I was hoping maybe you had found the type of ribbon that goes with this typewriter and could point me in the right direction. Thanks! -Z

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Angela 28th March 2011 - 6:22 pm

Hello Z – I was told that the ribbon was easily available but have not been able to track one down yet. I have found this website but because I am not sure of the model number of the typewriter I am not sure if these are the right ribbons.

http://www.wardirect.com/cat247_1.htm

A very kind man called Georg replied to a question I posted on his Flickr photostream http://www.flickr.com/photos/shordzi/5418065834/in/set-72157625979811388/
and posted in the Yahoo forums on my behalf. There are 2 links here which would help age the typewriter and perhaps get an idea of the model.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TYPEWRITERS/message/48113

The closest to my typewriter is the Underwood SX-100 http://machinesoflovinggrace.com/ptf/UnderwoodGallery.html
but I cannot find ribbons for this. I think you can buy a universal ribbon that suits lots of models – which worked great on my Silver-Reed Silverette. Maybe I just need to bite the bullet and take a gamble on one of these.

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Anonymous 22nd June 2011 - 8:37 pm

Your typewriter is an Underwood 150model circa 1950's. You can visit the following site to see a photo. I have an Underwood SX-100 which is also shown on the site.

http://machinesoflovinggrace.com/ptf/UnderwoodGallery.html

Hope this is helpful.

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Angela 22nd June 2011 - 8:40 pm

Dear Anonymous – thank you so much. This is indeed my Typewriter. I really appreciate you taking the time to post this. I wish I knew how you were. All the best, Angela.

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Anonymous 20th September 2011 - 5:56 pm

Looks like I have the same typewriter,but mine say's made in the USA. I couldn't find a model number either. I wondered how old it was, thanks for the info. I also wonder if it has any value?

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Anonymous 14th March 2012 - 5:44 pm

Slide the carriage all the way to the side, look below the carriage along the side of the inside of the machine and you will find the serial number. Go to http://www.tw-db.com/indexen.htm and look up the number, you will find the production date. looks like a SX-150
Arne

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Angela 19th April 2012 - 8:06 pm

Sorry for the long delay in reply to your comment Anonymous. Thanks for taking the time to tell me how to find the serial. I only got around to doing it tonight. It was such a delight to find it after looking everywhere for it. I was quite excited! According to the typewriter database it is somewhere between 1953 and 1955.

The only thing I am bit puzzled about is – if there is any difference between the American and UK Serial numbers? Mine says 'Made in England'.

Thanks once again whoever you are 🙂

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Anonymous 22nd April 2012 - 1:35 pm

to Angela and Anonymous i have the same typewriter but mine say's made in Canada thank's for all the info

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Angela 22nd April 2012 - 1:37 pm

You are welcome Canadian Anonymous 🙂 Interesting to hear that all these typewriters show different "Made in…" locations.

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Typewriter King 22nd June 2015 - 10:11 pm

It looks like you have a 1953-55 Underwood 150 made under license in England (I would say a 1955 model). I believe personally that these were Underwood's very best typewriters. They were tough, rugged, and reliable. I used one all through high school to type my homework in the 1980's. To be sure, you can look online at the typewriter serial number database. The serial number plate is mounted just behind the right hand ribbon well. Don't use the first two numbers ahead of the dash mark (it looks like in your case it would be number 13, since it looks like you have a 13" carriage. I believe you should see a year in the mid-fifties. As far as ribbons are concerned–you are lucky!! All you have to do is find an Epson printer cartridge at any office supply store. Wind it until you see the diagonal splice (it takes awhile), cut it in the middle, wind the ribbon where the spool turns clockwise on the left, and counterclockwise on the right. If you are especially lucky, you can simply pin it on the core spools that came with the typewriter. Otherwise, tie a knot at each end of the ribbon and poke the knot through the slot in the core. Now, all you have to do is to clean the machine, oil it, roll a couple of sheets in the carriage (I always use two because it protects the platen–rubber roller). Now you can have lots of fun bashing away and filling the air with a nice staccato sound of letters being stacked onto papyrus. Have fun!!!

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Angela 25th June 2015 - 7:01 pm

Thanks for your in depth reply Typewriter King. Unfortunately there is a problem with the ribbon mechanism. It does not move around as you type. I have tried several things with it such as changing the direction etc. but it will not work. The backspace key does not work either.

I have posted some pictures on here. http://www.flickr.com/photos/angelacallanan/6067669240/in/album-72157627483869214/ There is a knob missing – its the one you use to change direction of the way the ribbon winds (left to right or vice versa). I am not sure if this is the cause of the problem.

I don’t fully understand what you mean by using an Epson print cartridge. Which model Epson? I’ve seen suitable ribbon for sale in a few places I would just need to wind it on to my spools. The keys do seem lovely to type on – if only I could get the ribbon mechanism to work.

Thanks again for your comment – it sounds like you really loved that typewriter and its always lovely to hear from people who share my enthusiasm for these lovely old machines (or “typewriter nuts” as my boyfriend calls us 😉

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Typewriter King 10th July 2015 - 7:17 am

I sent you two pictures of the ratchet wheel you need, and where exactly it is positioned within your typewriter via e-mail. If your computer didn't get these, I apologize, and I will send again. As to the ribbon, it's an Epson LQ590 to be exact. Any half-inch nylon inked ribbon will do. Your blog convinced me to finally buy a 1954 Underwood #150 from an antique shop where it had been for awhile. Now my two '56 lovelies have spares again. Thank you. I am also nursing along a 1940, 1946, 1952, and 1959 Underwoods, along with other beauties of other brands. I have been restoring typewriters for 34 years, since I was 13 years old. This hobby kept me out of the pool halls and beer joints while I was growing up. I wish you luck on finding the parts you need. Remember, only get one that's the same shape as yours, and it has to have to knob on the right hand side. Let me know if you've found one, or if you need to make arrangements for me to send you the part instead.

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Typewriter King 6th March 2016 - 5:34 am

Haven't heard from you nor seen anything written past my last post. Did you get your typewriter fixed? I just bought another 150–a '55 model. It's pretty gummed up, but I've run into that before. Shouldn't take more than a bit of cleaning, oiling, and adjusting to put it in shape where I can bash a letter or two out on it. The '54 model I bought the last time was dropped, which totally bent the body down below and in the back on the left side. It's parts only.

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Angela 7th March 2016 - 6:56 pm

Hello Typewriter King – I was sure I had replied to your post but it doesn't appear to be on here. Maybe we had an email exchange? I never received the pictures you sent of the part I needed. I postedin the Yahoo Typewriter group but never managed to get the part. I had another go at fixing it myself but could not get it to work. A friends husband who is an enthusiast will probably be able to repair it for me but it just the difficulty of getting the typewriter to him because I don't have a car at the moment and they live 60 miles away.

I have since acquired 2 Olivetti's which are very nice. I just need to get round to photographing them. Thanks for posting again and sorry my reply has disappeared.

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Typewriter King 27th March 2016 - 11:30 am

Just to update you on the progress of the '55 Underwood 150 I bought: It runs like the proverbial Singer sewing machine. It's a very smooth typer and the print is surprisignly straight for a machine so old. Here's a first: I was un-sticking the keys, and when I got to the middle of the keyboard, my right index finger was starting to hurt. I looked at it, and to my surprise, I was wearing a cut into it!! Those levers below the keys are SHARP!!! Long story short, I got it to running. I hope your typewriter enthusiast friend can get yours to running. Maybe he has the parts you need in his inventory. If he doesn't, just let me know. I've already got some pulled for you out of the '54 model (they're in almost new condition). Just post again, and I'll send you my mailing address via e-mail. These parts will fit into a mailer and I could very well get them to you with the same price as it would be to mail a letter. Again, let me know how your machine comes out.

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Angela C 19th August 2018 - 7:06 pm

I was sure I had replied to this post. A bit late now 🙂 Not sure if some comments got lost when I imported it from Blogger to WordPress. Are you still there Typewriter King? 🙂

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Bern Pokorski 2nd May 2019 - 3:33 pm

Angela, I hope that you still have this beautiful piece of typewriting machinery. I hope to acquire one just like it someday. I recently fell into the typewriter hobby, and my area of interest has been honed in on these desktop, full-size, wonderful machines.

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Angela C 7th May 2019 - 4:09 pm

Yes I still have this beautiful machine, but I am very ashamed to say I still haven’t managed to sort out the issue with the ribbon not moving forward when you type. I think I know the part I need and have been keeping an eye out for it. This model often comes up on eBay but I am really looking for one that is for spares & repairs only – they are not very expensive but I couldn’t bear to butcher a working machine and have never been able to find one that is suitable to use for parts only.

I hope you find the machine you are looking for 😀 However! A word of caution – this hobby is addictive 😀 you may find yourself with a house full of Typewriters 😀

All the best,

Angela

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Eliubar Garcia 3rd June 2020 - 8:39 am

Buen dia soy entusiasta de stas maquinas y tenho una underwood de 1955 sx y la stoy restaurando ointura completa y kiero saber que color le puedo poner, y si alguien tien tiene el manual de usuario. Gravias

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Angela C 3rd June 2020 - 5:07 pm

Hello 😀 Thanks for stopping by. Google Translate has helped me read your comment as below.

“Good day, I am enthusiastic about these machines and I have a 1955 sx underwood and I am restoring it to a complete waist and I want to know what color I can put on it, and if anyone has the user manual. ”

I have never been able to find a Manual for this Typewriter. I have heard that a lot of Underwood Typewriters have almost the same interior mechanism so if you can find a manual for any of the larger Underwoods (non portable) it should help.

This website has a very comprehensive manual for Typewriter repair that was produced during WW 2. It includes quite a few models of typewriter including an Underwood which is very similar to the 1955 Underwood SX 150.
https://maritime.org/doc/typewriter/
There are very detailed diagrams and pictures of the Typewriters and it tells you how to fix them.

As regards colour a lot of Underwood 150s are the same green colour as mine – which is slightly metallic too. I have also seen a lot of the American models which are a matte green or khaki. You could also try this forum https://typewriter.boardhost.com/ for help.

Good luck with your Typewriter 😀 Hope you manage to restore it.

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