Since we became more prolific collectors, watching TV has not been the same. Typewriters seem to grace the desks of every series that tell tales from a time of old. Our latest after-dinner splurge has been Ripper Street, a detective series about fictional cases driven by the cop who had been on the Jack the Ripper case. Great series if you like mystery, detective, and turn of last century period story telling. The only thing is, the props seem to be a little out of chronological order!
So, the series begins in East London, 1889, six months after the last Jack the Ripper killing. That means the oldest typewriter that could possibly be available had to be made before 1890. As we finish seasons, I will post our listing of sightings throughout the show. We begin with Season 1.
Season 1, Episode 2
Date of Manufacture: 1894-1928 (Fudacz, n.d.)
As the camera cuts to an office in the police station, an Oliver fills the screen, primed to be used. Ironically, the police man is seen flipping through hand-written pages to the left of the machine, in which a blank page is sitting ready. Immediately, my husband stops the show and exclaims, "Hey! That's an Oliver!" He rewinds, and we pause the show to gaze at the prominent features of this gorgeous machine, trying to guess the model. As the camera pans across the office, the upright wings of the type bars of a second Oliver are seen just above the books and papers scattered across another desk. Although it is difficult to determine the models from these shots, the first Oliver typewriter wasn't sold until 6 years after this series is set.
Season 1, Episode 3
Brand: LC Smith
Model: Silent No. 9
Features: 11 inch carriage
Date of Manufacture: >1903, the date of the first sales of LC Smith, model 1 (Vintage, 2015)
During an intense moment when a woman is taken hostage by a man with a needle filled with poison, the camera catches yet another antique typewriter, the LC Smith Silent No. 9. The Silent, model number, and carriage size are all clearly seen, and you can just faintly make out the L. C. Smith decal. Again, the first of the LC Smith's were produced in 1903, 14 whole years after this season is set.
Season 1, Episode 4
Model: >4 because there is no plate on the side
Date of Manufacture: >1907, when the Oliver model 5 was sold (Typewriter Database, 2018)
In this scene, finally we have someone, appropriately the reporter, actually using a typewriter. Here again, the typewriter is at least 18 years later than when this show takes place.
Season 1, Episode 7
Date of manufacture: 1894-1928 (Fudacz, n.d.)
After a couple of episodes sans typewriter, in episode 7 we again find the reporter with his trusty Oliver. As in episodes 2 and 4, it was easy to spot the brand, and easy to determine it to be anachronic.
Season 1, Episode 8
Date of manufacture: 1914-1915 (Mello, 2016)
By now we are getting quite familiar with the reporter's treasured Oliver. I particularly like the picture at 27:07 where it is almost as if the typewriter is more important than everything else going on, as seen by the blurred out hands of the main character with a sharper view of the Oliver in the background. At 27:32, we can clearly see not only that no "OLIVER" sign is on the side, but also how thick the front of the machine is. That rules out models 2-6. Thanks to the Virtual Typewriter Collection of Justin De Mello (2016), we can see that the typewriter displayed above appears to closely match the model 7. At least, the model is no earlier than this. This places the typewriter a full 25-26 years after this season takes place!
I hope you liked this first glance at the anachronisms on Ripper Street. Stay tuned for season 2! Special thanks to Netflix (n.d.), from which all the screen shots of typewriters on Ripper Street were taken.
Fudacz, G. (n.d.). Oliver. Retrieved from: https://www.antikeychop.com
Mello, Justin De. (2016, May 7). From the Virtual Typewriter Collection of Justin De Mello: 1914-1915 Oliver 7. Retrieved from The Typewriter Database: http://typewriterdatabase.com/19141915-oliver-7.6036.typewriter
Netflix. (n.d.). Ripper Street, Season 1. Retrieved from https://www.netflix.com
Ripper Street. (2018, April 3). In Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ripper_Street
Typewriter Database, The. (2018). Oliver Typewriter Serial Numbers. Retrieved from http://typewriterdatabase.com/oliver.3.typewriter-serial-number-database
Vintage Typewriter Jewelry-Antique Collectible Typewriters. (2015). LC Smith Typewriters: History 'Write in Sight'. Retrieved from http://www.vintagetypewriterjewelry.com/29/history-of-lc-smith-typewriters.html