Visiting a friend recently, I noticed a rather beautiful, scruffy old typewriter in the corner under the stairs. When I asked about it she replied that it was about to go back up the attic again so I asked her if I could take it away for a bit and photograph it. So it has been sat in my garage for a few days until last night, when I took around 150 images. I also did a bit of geeky internet searching and found out that it is an Imperial Model 50 which was made around 1927-37 and considered rather good!


The finish on the metal is really interesting – a brainlike or coral reef texture:


Anyway, I kind of fell in love with it as I was taking these images; it kept changing its nature as I closed in on it, with it’s elegant decay and fluff gathering abilities, it turned from a typewriter into abandoned agricultural machinery, an early mechanised weaving loom into instrument of torture, and finally into a sculptural memorial of obsolete technology. I have selected a few of my favourites here, and the rest will be uploaded onto Flickr eventually.



Then there’s the typographic bit – well, there’s always a typographic bit isn’t there? Gill Sans just looks so good here:

type2 type12 type13 type9  

type8 type6 type10 type1

And just a few more!






As I was finishing, I began to play a little more. I am currently encouraging my students to consider image making as something other than taking photographs, and using cameras to create effects, being less precise and expecting a few happy accidents along the way, so I decided to follow my own advice. This is a selection of the results! (If it isn’t doing anything, click on it to see the animation…)


So thanks Michelle, it can now go back up into the attic, but don’t forget about it…

UPDATE: I tried to get a full set of character imprints from the typewriter this week, but sadly the mechanism that propells the main roller is jammed solid. A friend is going to give it a clean up and try to get it working again!


8 thoughts on “Typewriter

  1. Really good; you can smell the dust.

    I bet it makes a great sound too.
    I’d like to see some up close photography of what it could do on some crisp white paper.
    All those indentations and tiny baseline shifts…

  2. You know, I never thought to try it! I haven’t returned it yet – so I will give it a try. I’ll get some carbon paper in (the ribbons dead) and post the results soon…

    1. Dear Christopher,
      firstly your blog is excellent.
      I am really intrigued by some of the textures you photograph
      (the rusty boiler plates are a fantastic example).

      Secondly, you commented on my blog recently (how to make an ad, a photoshop intensive walkthrough).

      I am flattered by what you said, I’ve thought that I’d like to tutor at some time.

      I’ve done two lectures
      The first sprung from the worrying fact that hardly any designers I was working with
      had much knowledge or care about typography, the second on creative theory.
      I thought you might like to see them.

      There is a fair bit of The Ramones playing at some points during the type talk and some modern jazz in the other lecture – I’ll let you guess which bits!

      If you’d like me to come to give these talks at Kings Lynn I’ll try and work it out with my boss.

      Kind regards
      Trevor Mill

      1. Thanks for the compliments Trevor. I’d be really interested in your lectures send; them to

        I will be in London in November for the Neville Brody lecture, perhaps we could meet up to discuss the possibility of your coming to King’s Lynn?

        PS I am currently working on some linocut images and have been taking lots of close ups… watch this space!

  3. The abstract close-ups seem very architectural in composition – I’m kind of drawn to hazy memories of the H.R Giger space ship in Alien.

    1. It certainly does have that feel. I thought of it as a cross between Giger’s alien craft and the Borg from Star Trek: The Next generation!

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