As a management assistant and a geek I always had a big interest in “retro” office devices. I try not to give in on that, because I live in a small house which will be stacked from top to bottom with this old devices. But, I always wanted to have a typewriter and yesterday I finally bought one! It’s an Olivetti Studio 42 (semi-standard), with Dutch QWERTY layout. Previous owner told me it was manufactured around 1944. Don’t know yet if that is true, but I did found the serial number: #629828. And, best of all, it still works!
Now I bought my first typewriter, I’m trying to collect more information about this specific type. The tw-db couldn’t tell me much. Search results on the big almighty search engine are kind of poor too. What I could find was this:
“Meanwhile, in Ivrea, Adriano (Camillo’s son, who had since 1932 been Olivetti’s director-general and since 1938 its second president) was moving toward bigger and great things for Olivetti. Having noted the success of the Royal portable in the US, and the readiness with which Remington and Corona, especially, had adapted the Royal portable’s size and shape to their own needs, Adriano began to plan a semi-portable. The MP1 had been introduced at a time when other parts of Continental Europe and Britain were producing similar machines, notably the Imperial Good Companion (based on the German Torpedo) and other German models, such as the Olympia, Continental, Mercedes, Triumph, Erika and Rheinmetall (see photo of my collection below). The market was growing, but so too was the competition. Time for something almost completely different.
Instead of referring to it as a semi-portable, Olivetti chose to describe the Studio 42 as a “semi-standard” – half an office machine, in other words, rather than twice a portable. It was created in 1935 by engineer Ottavio Luzzati. Schawinsky combined his artistic skills with the ideas of architects Luigi Figini (1903–1984) and Gino Pollini (1903-1991) and factory technicians to come up with the futuristic outer design and produce, like the MP1, one of the most striking typewriters ever made.
Just as Hermes in Schawinsky’s native Switzerland was returning portables to an ultra-flat, light, compact shape and size – one which was to be maintained in Germany after World War II by the like of Gossen and Groma, and in France by Rooy – Olivetti’s Studio 42 pointed to a whole new direction for the rest of the world.
After the War, of course, Olivetti returned to the light, compact roots of the portable, producing perhaps the most popular model of them all: Nizzoli’s Lettera 22.”
Studio 42 was a revolutionary model: it was intended not only for office use but also for domestic use. According to 100 years of Olivetti typewriters, production of this model typewriter started around 1935. And after the war Olivetti decided to concentrate on a new model. This tells me production ended somewhere around 1950.
My typewriter has a Dutch QWERTY layout and a mark of “Ruys’ Handelsvereeniging” or “Ruys’ Kantoormachines”. The Ruys company was founded in 1904 and later on had tied connections to Olivetti. From what I can find they did a lot of advertising on office suplies such as the typewriter in 1941 in the magazine “Kampioen” from “ANWB”. The newspaper of Utrecht wrote something about Ruys and Olivetti on September 3th, 1965. According to this piece Ruys was loosening their ties to Olivetti and started competing. At the end of 1967 part of Ruys office supplies ended up in hands of Olivetti though.
It seems there is a book written by the director of the Britisch Typewritermuseum, Wilfred A. Beeching’s The century of the typewriter, that can tell me more about the Olivetti production statistics and when my typewriter was supposed to be manufactured. So I guess I need to find that book!
I’m also trying to contact the previous owner again to ask how he knows when this typewriter was manufactured. Maybe a relative bought it brand new at Ruys Office supplies during the war? Or maybe he just has other information I couldn’t find (yet). I’m really interested to know!
Fun fact, or at least the other thing I could find on this typewriter, was that Pope Pius XII had an Olivetti Studio 42 too. It was especially made for him (of course) and painted white.