Posted on July 31, 2016
Adhering strictly to my one typewriter-in, one-typewriter-out policy, the pale blue Nippo Atlas with the god-awful key-tops flapped its gull-like wings and flew the roost to make room for typewriter royalty …
It was late one afternoon at work – at a time when my mind starts to daydream and wander in a typewriterly direction – that something possessed me to check out the Gumtree listings …
… and lo and behold, thank you typewriter god (yes, I realise I’m risking a fatwa by posting his image online) there was a Keller und Knappich Princess 300 for sale for just $25, which believe me, is about as good as Gumtree typewriter-pricing gets these days. I’m more used to seeing listings for typewriters like a Royal 200 (Silver-Seiko) with a three-figure asking price.
Previously, the name of this typewriter and its flowery logo had conjured up in my mind things like “Barbie Doll” and “My Little Pony”. I needn’t have worried though, because this is as robust a portable typewriter as you could wish to find …
There’s something about this typewriter, not just its red tab key and plastic-peg margin tabs, that reminds me of a Brother. No doubt Brother had a close look at this model. If they did, they never came close to matching it.
The TWDB dates this typewriter (serial number 403653) to 1960, the last year of manufacture, and this ties in nicely with the relevant page of Die Geschichte der deutschen Schreibmaschinen-Fabriken Band 2: Mittlere und kleine Hersteller (The History of German Typewriter Factories, Volume 2: Medium and Small Manufacturers) which tells us that 1957 was the year the Princess 300 was first introduced:
“… Bereits 1957 wurde das neue Modell, Princess 300 auf den markt gebracht, ein Modell 200 mit Tabulator, die einzige deutsche Reisescreibmaschine mit Tabulator.”
Happily this was a “royal” I was fated to own. After a much needed stripping and cleaning …
… and after touching-up the ribbon cover with as close a colour as I could find …
… it now sits happily in the space vacated by the ghastly (to use) Nippo Atlas.
Some wear and tear on the right-side of the body has been left as-is …
This Princess 300 is good. It’s very good. As Mark Petersen commented on the TWDB, it has the feel of a larger typewriter. It’s solid and reliable and has a very spacious keyboard.
A few more “Princess-related” screenshots are provided at the end of this post – the title of which was inspired by Roberto Benigni’s 1997 multi-Oscar winning movie Life is Beautiful (La vita è bella).
Guido (Benigni) woos his future wife, Dora, by constantly surprising her in public with cries of:
It’s a movie well worth watching if you haven’t seen it. SPOILER ALERT.
The biggest delight is Guido’s son, Giosue (Giorgio Cantarini) who survives the death camp thanks to an elaborate game of hide-and-seek devised by his father.
“The game starts now. You have to score one thousand points. If you do that, you take home a tank with a big gun. Each day we will announce the scores from that loudspeaker. The one who has the fewest points will have to wear a sign that says “Jackass” on his back. There are three ways to lose points. One, turning into a big crybaby. Two, telling us you want to see your mommy. Three, saying you’re hungry and want something to eat.”
I loved the fact that the boy finally got the tank that his father promised him. He might have offered him a typewriter that was built like a tank instead, but there were none in the camp.
However, I did spy an Olivetti typewriter in the fascist-run local government office where Guido (Benigni) applied unsuccessfully for a permit for his bookstore …
p. s. If, like me, you have misgivings about the typewriters you continue to accumulate, here’s a therapeutic quote from the movie:
“There is nothing more necessary than the unnecessary.”
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