Miss Dear = Olivetti Ico

Rattling and clattering, an Olivetti can do that as no other.
My grandmother's machine has been doing it for sixty years.

Tine Van Rompuy-Janssens is a gifted playwright and librettist of popular operettas. She pushes her gigantic Underwood 5 to one side in 1934 and trades it in for a fashionable Ico. This is the first portable typewriter by Olivetti, which sells quite well in Belgium.

The Ico is sophisticated Art Deco, glossy and as black as the night. The accompanying poster is made by the Bauhaus artist Schawinsky.

The Italian machine that ends up in Begijnendijk, a village in Brabant (Belgium), is plagued for decades by the heavy touch of grandma's two index fingers.

The work table reverberates, the house reverberates as she endlessly types over her libretto's for the theater world - even for South-Africa. The elasticity of the machine is driven to the extreme with millimeter thick  'sandwiches' of white sheets and carbon paper.

What makes it even more amazing is that when I buy an Italian advertisement on eBay in 2006, it stresses exactly that capacity to copy. It is as if I can hear the attentive salesman talking my grandmother round in 1934 ...

And on its keys, in the years to come, she often urges the artistic leaders of the local drama club to give more attention to plays from here.

During all those years, the Olivetti does not falter. Except for one type bar, which (with great predictability) refuses to go back to its 'half moon'. It is told to behave itself a thousand times by my grandmother's index finger. 

Cause of addiction

That Ico, an Olivetti Simplex,
has got more on its conscience.

When I inherit the machine in 2000, it has no ribbon spools. I want to rectify this in the Autumn of 2006 and search the Internet for ribbon spools. I end up on the website of a typewriter fanatic and become fascinated by the examples of technical ingenuity and marketing geniuses. 

Before I know where I am, I am up
to my ears in typewriters. But I also bump into a Belgian restoration expert who returns Grandma's Ico to its former glory. This is Guy Pérard, with whom I now share this website ...

My grandmother is no longer with us. In 2000, her candle burned out just before her hundredth birthday. But her typewriter is still smiling at me and continually making it clear why I am a copywriter.

 


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