To Type, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth...

A man of the cloth and the steel he wields

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  1. I believe that all Selectric IIIs used the newer elements that don’t work in your I.

    But wow. That calligraphy typeface is excellent!

  2. I too remember something about Selectric-I & II and -III balls not being interchageagle, but I think that is only if the pitch is different than the pitch of the machine simce some are 10 and some are 12 applying only to those for the -III.

    I had a Selectric-II before computer days and wish now I had never given it away. I think it would be fun collecting all the different balls. Those you have are really neat. You have the first calligraphy one I have ever seen.

    Nice work on the paint.

    I really like your Woodstock. First Electrite I recall seeing.

    1. Yep, Selectric III elements are 96-character and have yellow writing on them, and I’m pretty sure they won’t even fit in a Selectric I/II. These balls are all intended for the Selectric I/II type carrier, and have 88 characters so they fit fine, but the red-arrow ones have the letters in completely different places than normal SI/II balls. I feel pretty sure that some of them are for the Composer, and I think the RX-12 balls were meant for a special computerized application like barcoding – they are mostly blank except for a handful of vertical lines and some dots in different positions – probably meant for the “Memory” models with serial computer inputs.

      The Woodstick is Bill Wahl’s – he just picked it up.

  3. “Calligraphy” looks fantastic. Make a font out of that one!

    The odd one looks like a proportional typeface, so that would be for the Composer.

    Here’s my Electrite in action:
    http://writingball.blogspot.com/2012/06/electriting.html

    1. I’ll have to find someone with a carbon-ribbon SI/II and type out a nice character sheet for converting to a font. My cloth-ribbon 721’s probably aren’t ideal for that.

      Bill will be happy to hear that the Electrite’s motor is universal. Much better chance to get it running! Sure it’s loud, but that’s the sound of MODERN LIVING! :D

  4. Sweeeeeeeet fonts! Love “Calligraphy” – it’s so neat as to my feeble attempts at the real thing.
    I love the new look for the Blue Bomber, absolutely fantastic!
    Time to get my paints going – if only it wasn’t so humid this time of the year!

    1. It’s finally nice enough to paint down here – still, cool days with an unopressive sun. I’m contemplating giving my Lettera 32/35 a paint job today. :D

  5. Those print elements with the number codes and red arrows are indeed for an IBM Composer. I bought a bunch of old elements online and most of them were for that machine… which was a pity, since I couldn’t use them.

    Indeed, the Selectric I and II elements were interchangeable, but the Selectric III elements don’t even fit in the older design. The guide slots inside the shaft are placed in different positions from the ones of the SI-II, so the newer elements can’t be installed on an older machine. And same goes the other way around: older elements can’t be used on a Selectric III.

  6. I like your colour scheme. Excellent work.

    Some interesting ‘balls’ there. Hmm…. Maybe it is time I hung out with my Selectrics more.

  7. Here’s one more wow for that calligraphy typeface!
    Does anyone know if it occurs in manual typewriters at all?

    1. Well, there’s Royal “Cartoon“, which is pen-stroke-like and theoretically came on manuals. I’ve never seen anyone claim to have one, though.

  8. As others have noted, the 88-character elements with the yellow, red and blue colored arrows are for Composers, not Selectrics. Composer elements use cryptic markings to abbreviate the font, point size and style (such as italic or bold). Blue arrows are for 6, 7 or 8 point. Yellow is 9 or 10 point. Red is 11 or 12 point. Composers have a 3-position escapement control that match the colored arrows on the element caps.

    The RX-12 element is a 12-point Ruling Font. I found it in the IBM Composer Font catalog. It was made to make vertical and horizontal lines on ruled forms. You can select from 4 vertical and 8 horizontal rules including dash and dot leaders.

    Many unknowing sellers, especially on ebay, mistakenly think Composer elements were meant for Selectrics but are actually useless on a Selectric.

  9. Oh, I forgot. Composers did have proportional spacing. There were about 20 different series of fonts available (Baskerville, Century, Press Roman, etc) and each series had Medium, Italic, Bold, etc. so there were many, many elements made for Composers. It wasn’t unusual for each user to have a few dozen different elements.
    The T-11-M element is 11-point THEME medium
    The CN-8-B element is 8-point CLASSIFIED NEWS bold

    1. Ahh, see – I knew you’d know what they were (:

      Well, no loss. The Composer balls were free and have busted levers anyway. However, I have developed a desire for some of the GP/DSC elements. Just bought one on ebay because it was a GP for which I have no type sample, just because I want to make a type sample. :D

  10. Heartiest greetings!

    Inspired by your posts and sharing of the different type elements, I purchased my very first electric typewriter – the Selectric II. I am very keen to acquire the Calligraphy “golfball” and has been fervishly looking for one. I’m offering Usd50 for a working one, and would you please contact me at tan_danwei_claudia@moe.edu.sg should you have one to spare? Thank you!!

    1. Good choice on the SII – I think the Calligraphy ball only came in the 88-char SI/SII version, so it’ll work on your SII in either pitch setting. If I find another one, I’ll let you know – but you ain’t prying this one out of my hands :D

      I’ve also let another Selectric ball collector know about your offer, he may have a spare, since he’s got a pretty good collection of elements. Also keep your eye out on ebay – seller “bfinkle” apparently bought out the last of GP’s warehouse stock of elements when they went out of business, and does brisk sales of brand-new GP elements on ebay.

  11. Cool, thank you so much! I purchased the lot of 10 from bflinky, but no calligraphy unfortunately…

    I LOVE my Selectric II and thank you for all your information on these element types!

    Appreciate all your kind help!

  12. Oh,the Calligraphy came in 96-characters too :)

  13. Nice looking machine. I am interested in learning of any prep work you did to the casing prior to painting it.
    As you have had some time with the paint job on, did you have any complications in the long-term?
    For instance, did it come off on your hands during those sweaty last days of November to get the 50k mark?
    Looking back, do you have any lessons learned…or did it work out as planned?

    Thanks in advance and I hope the Selectric is still treating you well!

    1. Nothing other than washing the old paint. I might at some point strip the paint off and re-do it (starting to think that chrome electroplate would look pretty cool).

      However, the paint stayed on fine, I use this machine a lot and carry it from one place to another with sweaty hands. no problems I’ve noticed. It’s still going strong (:

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