Friday, 30 September 2011

The Typewriter Collection No.8: Olivetti Lettera 32, mid '70s(?)

This one caught me by surprise, since I already have a Lett 32 from the early '80s. But how could I resist?
Look at it. How can you leave it in a store window?

The ribbon cover doesn't sit flush. It's because one of the ribbon spools is not the original one and the screw that holds it down doesn't screw in properly...unless you turn it upside-down.

Excuse the screenplay layout. I met a successful author the other night and I felt a little disillusioned afterwards. So any excuse to write is a good thing, as they say.

And please excuse the poor layout of this post. Here's the scan of the instruction leaflet in case any of you have this typewriter, but never got any papers with it.

Here's the culprit that's preventing the ribbon cover from sitting flush. I had to screw it down back-to-front. No big deal. I'll just get a new ribbon for it.

And here's the original spool. Very Dieselpunk.

Rear of the machine. Looks like a shipping container.

And, of course, Olivetti's signature red tab key. Those Italians. What am I saying? I'm Italian!

The Lettera 32 is a great and robust typewriter. Light enough to carry around, it's easy to see why it was so widely used. I read somewhere that these were so successful that they were seen and used "from the rice paddies of VietNam to the cafes of Paris".
I'd believe it.

Thanks for reading!


  1. I'm glad that I'm having such a positive (I think, unless your wife begs to differ) influence from all the way over here! One less machine languishing on a thrift store shelf is always a good thing if you ask me.

    Ah, yes, the irresistible duplicates. I've been there :-) This would have been hard to pass up for me too, especially having been made in the Ivrea factory and all (not one of the later Barcelona ones).

    Looks like it types beautifully, and it'll look perfect once you have the ribbon cover sorted out.

    Also love the picture of the back - you are right, if I didn't know better and saw that image out of context, I would think it was a giant shipping container!

  2. I just want to know who this St Vincent de Paul is. Did he only visit the US and Oz and... why did he leave such a trail of great typewriter bargains behind him? Maybe he should be the patron saint of the Typosphere?

  3. I won't say "I told you so." Promise. ( :

  4. Could you give me the serial no.? It is located on the right side of the machine on the frame, and I will be more than happy to date it for you! That Lettera 32 actually looks to be from the 1960's rather than the 1970's!

  5. @ I dream lo-tech, yes, I know. Famous last words, as they say.

    @ Matt, I just checked the numbers on both of them. My Lettera 32 I got back in 1981 (if I recall correctly. May have been '82) has a serial number of 9805382 and it's a Spanish-made model.
    This new one that I purchased the other day has a serial number 1741050 and it's made in Italy. I thought that perhaps the vast difference in serial numbers may have been due to the different countries of production.
    Thanks for looking into this, Matt!

  6. made from Barcelona?¿ i doubt it the spanish model lettera 32 brought the letter Ñ

  7. Thank you very much for including the instructions for the Lettera 32!

    I just bought one (Spanish, 0590919) a few hours ago and it came without any documentation.

    Regarding your ribbon spools mine look exactly like that as well, are you sure they don't just come like that?

    My ribbon spool seems to be stuck though so maybe we've both been struck by the same replacement...

    1. Happy to be of help, Frank.
      As for the ribbon spools, they should sit flush, so that the ribbon cover sits flat.

  8. could anyone date my lettera 32? serial no 2177821