Underwood No. 5, Circa 1918 (5 Views) M60 Home     Underwood Gallery

From the front along the right side of the No. 5 one can see that the basics of the No. 1 have been maintained -- why mess with success? -- but some added pin striping, logos, and labels adds a bit of dress-up to any typewriter. This one is no exception. The frame looks little different on the No. 5 from the No. 1 except that the skirt is gone and the top front corners curve in rather than out. The ribbon color selector teeter-totter is one dead giveaway for a No. 5.

Ah, the Underwood 5! Beautiful in both design and execution, the Mellow 60s Museum has at least half a dozen of these and looks longingly upon any discovered in shops and garages.

This classic was produced from 1900 until 1931, making it one of the most commonly found and least valuable of the Underwood machines. Yet, no collection is complete without one. Its features set the bar for decades: Visible typing, first reliable accomplished commercially by the Underwood 1, was a must, as was dependable alignment. Four banks of keys and a single shift worked best for touch typing. The QWERTY keyboard may not have been the best, but it had won the consumer race and Underwood chose it for that reason if no other. And finally, the folks who actually used typewriters bought the No 5 by the millions. If you find one in excellent condition it will cost a bit more than the average of perhaps $50 but with its shining black paint, pin strips, logos, and wonderful antique look it will be worth every penny.

The Museum donated this machine to a missionary but new photos of the No. 5 currently on display will be uploaded soon.

1901 saw Australia declare is independence, the discovery of oil in Texas, and the formation of U.S. Steel. Baltimore manager John McGraw signed Cherokee Indian Tokohoma, who was actually an African American named Charlie Grant, in an attempt to circumvent the exclusion of Black players from the National Game of baseball (when the truth was discovered, McGraw released Grant). Kiowa land in Oklahoma was opened for white settlement, effectively dissolving the contiguous reservation.That year, the first Picasso exhibition opened in Paris, and Gillette began selling safety razor blades. To the dismay of children everywhere, this did not make the razor strop obsolete.

Though this view of the right side shows that little appears to have changed since the No. 1, the relatively straightforward, utilitarian lines of the predecessor of the No. 5 have been upgraded to a more curvy, flowing look. There is a finger pull that is part of the carriage casting, useful for pulling the carriage to the right. The platen and carriage adjusting and placement bits can be clearly seen. The large ribbon winding wheel with its five spokes and handle is mounted vertically and parallel with the sides of the frame. A lever locks and unlocks the spool to control the direction the ribbon travels. This No. 5 went to a new owner in as-found condition. This picture shows the type basket, typebars, and inner works to be a continuation of the successful design of its predecessor, albeit rusty.
In this photo of the left side, the delicate pinstriping adds to the attractive vertical and horizontal lines and rounded off edges of the frame. Though the rear view looks little changed, clearly the hardware and frame have been beefed up. Along the bottom, all of the patent information is shown. The No. 5 has taken the best of its predecessors, beefed them up, improved their operation, and created an truly excellent typewriter.
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