Posted on August 4, 2015
When I fabricated Haruki Murakami’s Olivetti typewriter in a recent post, I should have opted for a Lettera DL.
For some reason, it’s the most common European typewriter on the Japanese Yahoo auction site.
This one popped up on Australian Gumtree for a very reasonable $40, and only minutes away from my work address, so I snapped it up. The typewriter and the case are in excellent condition.
I’ve wanted one ever since I read Scott K’s titillating description of his Olivetti Lettera DL as a “bad girl dressed in black leather” (he’s not known as The Filthy Platen for nothing). 😉
I was interested to compare the key tops on mine with the rounded ones on Scott K’s. The squarer, flatter keys on mine are consistent with those on my Barcelona-made Lettera 32.
The Lettera 32 has the edge in terms of its typing feel and robustness of construction. However, the DL is not that much different and does benefit from a wider spacebar (even if mine is oddly bent out of shape).
Mine has an “Elite” typeface that by my measurements is 11.5 characters per inch.
When I looked at the Lettera DL typewriters advertised on Japanese Yahoo, there were some interesting variations …
rubber paper bails, rounded key tops
Name badge without the Olivetti logo
White-on-Silver (damaged?) name badge
Ribbon cover with red Olivetti logo …
… and name badge on the paper plate instead …
DLs with Lettera 32-style key tops are the exception. I only came across two examples …
I have a theory that the outer shells, and perhaps the rounded key-tops on some variations of these “DL” machines, were made in Japan, and that fully-assembled typewriters were then imported back as part of a reciprocal arrangement between Olivetti (Barcelona) and its Japanese supplier.
I could be wrong, of course. 🙂