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In Search Of: Clarence Leroy “Rocky” Jones

If you study typewriter history, especially the history of typewriter repair, you are certain to encounter the name “Rocky Jones” at some point. “Rocky” is something of a vague legendary figure in collector circles, mostly in reference to books that collectors cannot find because they are so rare. This past week, I endeavored to find a pair of his books and found them – and discovered quite a bit more. To wit:

Clarence Leroy “Rocky” Jones actually wrote what was widely considered to be the typewriter repair bible, and practically nobody knows it, and if you want to know who trained all those US Army typewriter repair guys that kept those Royals, Remingtons, Underwoods and Smith-Coronas winning WW2 – look no further than Rocky Jones.

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Here’s a passage from the National Office Machine Dealer’s Associations 1985 history “The Parade of Progress – NOMDA’s First 60 Years”:

rockyjones-nomda1 rockyjones-nomda2

So, Mr. Jones had his finger on the pulse of the typewriter industry throughout the mid-century years, and in addition to publishing books through industry giants like AMES Supply and Shipman-Ward, he also self-published through his own imprint “Rocky’s Technical Publications”. It’s the self-published works that are the rarest, and that’s a shame because it’s in his self-published work that he gets into typewriter history – and a guy that close to the lifeblood of typewriter history should have something interesting to say about it.

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Here, as far as I’ve been able to find so far, is Rocky Jones’ bibliography, in chronological order:

Nov. 1944:
WAR DEPARTMENT TECHNICAL MANUAL TM 37-305 TYPEWRITER MAINTENANCE
tmqm37-305-cover

1945:
AMES OAMI Mechanical Training Manual for Standard and Portable Typewriters
1945-ames-oami-v1-1_000 1945-ames-oami-v1-1_001

1951:
Rocky’s Electric Typewriter Tek Manual (collected)
rockys-1951-000a rockys-1951-099
Jan. 1953:
Shipman-Ward Dealer’s Line Book (collected)

shipman-ward-54-page011-586x1024 shipward-rocky
Shipman-Ward Dealer’s Line Book 1954 – Part 1: Price Lists and Trade-In Values
Shipman-Ward Dealer’s Line Book 1954 – Part 2: Age Lists
Shipman-Ward 1954 Line Book: Part 3: Ribbons and Repairs
Shipman Ward 1954: Accessories

Oct. 1953:
Instructions for operating the abacus, world’s oldest and fastest adding calculating machine

rocky-abacus

1956:
Typewriters Unlimited – History of the Typewriter (can’t find a copy of this)

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Sept. 1967:
Office Machine Service Department; operation manual (collected)

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rockyjones-omsdom
Sept. 1970:
Office Machine Technical Manual – Including Complete History Of The Typewriter, 1870-1970, Requisite Course in Typewriter Fundamentals & Basic Mechanics Theory and Principles of Electric Typing Actions Electronic Calculator Basic Fundamental Indoctrination (collected)
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Now, tonight I’ve gotten an email from Professor Polt confirming that there has been contact with Rocky Jones’ grandson Dan, who has located the original manuscript of “Typewriters Unlimited”. This contact started thanks to a 2011 post by Robert Messenger and last occurred in 2015 and proceeds glacially, but there is a chance that at least one and possibly more of Rocky Jones’ books still survive in his grandson’s storage shed. Here’s hoping that line of inquiry pans out! (:

Updated: December 1, 2016 — 7:17 pm

2 Comments

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  1. What a giant! Go Rocky!

    This is inspiring me to scan some literature I got from a local Royal man when he retired, including the publications that were originally used to train him.

    As a footnote, I was once asked (in an e-mail, I think) about some impressive diagrams on tracing paper, along with typewritten instructions for typewriter repair, that had been composed by a German POW in an American camp. I recognized them as a copy of Rocky’s bible—reproduced as well as they could be in the pre-photocopier age.

    1. Richard: That was me who asked (posted?) about the POW drawings – I still have the book.

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