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Remington 3B

Remington was always a leader in the typewriter industry, but even this famous company had troubles during the Great Depression -- and that's when it came out with one of its stranger and more rare machines, the 3B portable.

The first Remington portable was introduced in 1920, but it was in the thirties that the company produced a veritable tidal wave of portables. These fall into two general classes. First, there are the oblique-frontstroke typewriters that use a simple typebar linkage in which the type lever and the typebar have teeth that engage like gears. Then, there are the "noiseless" portables; these produce a gentle strike onto the front of the platen with a system that relies on the momentum of a small weight to bring the typebar the last few millimeters to the platen. Both kinds of typewriters were produced with many subtle model variations, and at various levels of sophistication, ranging from fancy machines with many features to cut-rate, sheet metal portables for the typing proletariat. (See Remington Portables.) The 3B, introduced in August 1935, is an oblique-frontstroke machine which reduces parts to a minimum. The 3B lacks many of the features which by 1935 had long been considered standard on all typewriters, such as a backspace key, a tabulator, a margin release key, a two-color ribbon, and a shift lock. But the strangest feature of the 3B is its three-and-a-half row keyboard.

This keyboard forces the typist to shift in order to reach half the numbers. A less attractive portable made by Remington, the Monarch Pioneer, also has a three-and-a-half row keyboard.

The 3B raises its typebars to a nearly 45-degree angle. In Remington portables of the 1920s, the same typebar position was achieved by a lever on the side of the machine that pushed the typebars up from their resting position. But in the 3B, the typebars are permanently raised, and the streamlined casting around them creates an interestingly bulbous collar. However, by 1935 Remington had already made several models which could type effectively when their typebars were virtually flat. Why didn't they do the same on this cheap typewriter, instead of going to the trouble of creating this collar?

The attractive typeface of the 3B is subtly potbellied. I particularly like the question mark.

The 3B did not last long: it was discontinued after a six-month run. (Serial numbers range from C100000, made July 1935, to C105075, made December 1935.) Most Remington portables are frequently found, and make easy though often attractive additions to a collection. But the 3B is a special find -- if you see one, be sure to go for it.

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