Tuesday 10 June 2014

Smith-Corona Skyriter - Worth Going For?

Okay, I'm beginning to think that I have a few typewriters that I don't really enjoy using, so I think some kind of cull is in order soon. In saying that, I really like using my mid '50s Smith-Corona Silent Super. It has a nice snappy action to it and is very responsive.

Same goes for my 1945 Smith-Corona Sterling, what I like to call my "Noir screenwriter's typewriter"  because it's got curves like Stanwyck and is as black as a Colt .45

And then there's the circa 1936 Smith-Corona Standard. Glossier than Gershwin's Steinway, with beautiful Art Deco motifs here and there, but it does feel like a 78 year-old machine when I use it, with a slightly leaden feel to it. Sturdy as all get-out, though.

This one gets a lot of compliments and is perhaps my wife's favourite of all my typewriters. As stated, it's a little rough to type with and the bell goes "tink!" at the end of a line instead of "ding!" , but its design and look are so representative of its era that I would have a hard time letting go of this one.

The ones that I'm thinking of moving along are typewriters that, I have to say, don't feel nice to write with. One to go would probably be the early '60s Olympia Splendid 99.

Based on how nicely my SM2 and SM3 work, I thought this slimmed-down model would have the same feel. But, to me, it doesn't. This one has a spongy feel to its keys, which is a shame because it's a nicely designed typewriter.
Another one that I'm not too sold on is the circa 1966 Smith-Corona Galaxie II.

This one does feel nice and sharp to type on, and it's in great condition, but, despite the lengths I went to in order to quieten down the sound of this thing, I find it still a little too loud for my liking. Or maybe I'm remembering it differently. I might have to sit down and write a page or two with this typewriter to see (or rather, hear) if I'm imagining things.

I've also got an early 1970s Litton Imperial that I got someplace and that one is gonna go too. Probably first cab off the rank, that one. It's a pleasant shade of baby blue, but that's the only thing that appeals to me about it, since it's A- plastic, and B- I have other small portables such as a Lettera 32 (going nowhere 'cos I bought it new in 1981) and a late '50s Groma Kolibri (also going nowhere because I'm embarrassed at how much I paid for it and will almost certainly not recoup the cost). However, I do like the idea of another small ultra-light machine and I've been looking at Skyriters on eBay for a few months.
Here's a picture from Adwoa's site (don't know why there's such a huge gap between this text and photo below) ;

picture courtesy of http://www.retrotechgeneva.net. Post(Card)-A -Day 26: American Baby- Smith Corona Skyriter  (Hi Adwoa! Hope you're well.)

And, of course, I've seen these pop up in recent posts on The Typosphere. I know that Bill M
(from  http://offountainpenstypewriters.blogspot.com.au/ - Hey, Bill, how ya doin'?)
is a big fan of these models and has more than one, I think.
But I think it may have been the picture of one of these on Michael Clemens' blog...


...recently that may have gotten me thinking about these Skyriters again. I should stay away from The Typosphere. Too expensive.

So basically, if I'm looking to shift a few typers, I'd like to replace them with one that will actually get its fair share of use. And it's probably a good idea for me to thin out the collection a little anyway.

What say you all in The Typosphere who have a Skyriter? Nice typewriters to use?

To be honest, if they're anything between my '45 Sterling and my '56 Silent Super, then I'm half-way sold on them already.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Mine is better than expected. I held put for 3 years for a good price.

  2. You're sold. Skyriters are very snappy and pretty light. Similar but not identical to the silent-supers. Get a 1950's one - sometimes the 60's ones are dead-feeling, but I've run across a couple plastic-shelled Corsairs that were actually very good.

    One thing: Skyriters tend to have somewhat haphazard type alignment, but I've found most Smith-Corona portables tend to get out of whack that way when well-used. If you consider that trait charming rather than annoying, there's another plus.

  3. I have a later skyriter made in England... like this one:
    I have to say, I don't love it. It's a plain looking machine. There's a stifling air of mass production to it, void of "character". At the same time, it's a decent machine, but I have so many I prefer ahead of it. Strange as it may be though: I love my SM9 and that is such a common machine that it sells super affordable.
    My opinion: if you can get the skyriter for a real good price, then no harm, no foul. You can always unload it. I think you can sell your Kolibri too, it may surprise you how much you might get for it.

  4. Thanks for the responses, folks. And Ted, yes, the type alignment on both my '45 Sterling and '56 Silent Super is a little...'jaunty', but this adds to their charm.

  5. Hi. I'm not sure if I understood what "ting" is in your Smith Corona ;) I write just to say mine also did "ting" and it's very easy unscrew the bell, clean it and screw it again but not too hard. Then a great and clean "ding" is here!

    Btw, what did you finally chose? I'm looking for a Olympia Splendid. I didn't know the feeling is spongy...

    1. The bell on my 1936 Smith-Corona Standard feels a little soft. I could unscrew it and adjust it, but it doesn't bother me enough to try fixing it.

      I haven't gotten a Skyriter. I have too many typewriters already. As for the Splendid, yes, it feels a little sluggish to me. Not as snappy as some of my other Olympias. Still a nice machine to use, however.

  6. I realize this is an old post, but I have a Skyriter and I like it very very much. In fact, I like to love all my Smith Coronas - Silent Super, Silent, Clipper & Skyriter. Skyriter has a few limitation because of size but they are minor (like the paper bail is straight-up without an option for suspending it as you insert the paper. Not a big deal though, right?) The type itself is beautiful and it has the characteristic zippy SC action. If I were to choose a favorite, it might be the Clipper, but I don't want to choose a favorite. I love them all. (And, by the way, I found your blog when searching on info regarding the Olympia Splendid 66 - I am enjoying it the least of my machines. The action is far too demanding for my weak self.)

  7. I have a 1959 Skyriter (3rd owner). It takes a bit of getting used to the flat keyboard, but it is a quick machine and fairly quiet. My main machine is a 1971 Olympia SM9-dead reliable. My Olympia Traveller de Luxe and my N.O.S. 1966 Olympia Splendid 33 have the same chunky action (the patent for the Olympia SF design was intended to speed up the slug speed upon striking the ribbon/paper/platen). I think they overcomplicated the mechanism to achieve this. The flat Olympias type fine, if you have a sharp, quick fingerstroke, but it's quite different feeling than the "quick pivot" motion of the Skyriter or the Hermes Rocket/Baby.

  8. @ Ricky Garni, I had a Splendid 99 at one stage and didn't like it at all. Looked great, but felt rough in the typing action. I have since bought a SF model and it types a little better, but not as smoothly as Skyriters.

    @ Penhurion, I ended up getting rid of the Skyriter due to the short carriag return lever (early model) and I replaced it with a Sears-branded S-C Tower Chieftain III, with the longer return lever. It's a very snappy typewriter and it gets the most use out of all my ultra-portables.
    Regarding SM9s, I have a late 1966 model and I think it was barely used by whomever owned it before me. Pristine condition, even the draw-band is still crisp white in colour. Works like a charm. An absolute favourite to use.

    Thanks to you both for stopping by!