This was a happy eBay find on a Sunday morning. The seller preferred local pickup, and I happened to be close by. So, in one short day, I purchased, cleaned and created this blog post for my newly acquired Nakajima ALL portable typewriter. I’m not sure of the model number, though I’ve seen similar models called the 550 or 800.
Nakajima ALL is a Japanese concern, founded by Nobuyoshi Nakajima as Nakajima Seisakausho in 1923. Then, the company manufactured printing machines. In 1931, the company introduced a line of sewing machines, and in 1933, it expanded production to include machines for “ordinary household” use. Nakajima ALL emerged as a producer of sewing machine heads after World War II, and shortly thereafter as a supplier of sewing machine parts. The company introduced a manual typewriter in 1965, and electric typewriters in 1971.1
In 1968, monthly production of typewriters exceeded 15,000 units. I’m guessing production of manual typewriters ran from 1965 to sometime in the early 1970s. After 1971, the company seems to have marshaled all of its efforts to produce electric typewriters, and, later, computers.
ALL typewriters were sold under various names: Adler (Nakajima), Chevron, Craftamatic, Imperial (Nakajima), KMart (Nakajima),2 Majitouch, Pentagon, Pinnock, Pinnock-Craftamatic, Royal (Nakajima), and Swintec (Nakajima).3
I’m not very impressed with the quality of the ALL. I gave mine a thorough cleaning — it was in decent shape to begin with — but it didn’t improve much. As you can see from the typecast above, the alignment is off a bit.4 The small “a” seems malformed, leaving a weak impression.
My interest in this machine was piqued when I noticed decorations on the platen. It’s covered with a roll of glossy paper, featuring various images. Nakajima ALL must have used one continuous printed sheet, as peeling reveals additional images underneath. I’m not sure this material offers a fair typing surface. Perhaps that’s why (apart from my stubborn refusal to change the ribbon) it doesn’t leave a nice impression.
Robert Messenger at oz.Typewriter offers several articles on Nakajima ALL, including these two:
- Nakajima Model 800 Typewriter: The most surprising machine of ALL
- Nakajima ALL Portable Typewriter Manuals: Four Languages, Multiple Brands
Roll call: Images on platen —
Here are some additional images:
© 2013, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.
- Source, http://www.nakajima-all.co.jp/engv.files/sub/kigyou_syareki.htm. [↩]
- Robert Messenger reports that one K-Mart model sold for $306 on eBay! [↩]
- Source, http://typewriterdatabase.com/no_info.630.typewriter-serial-number-database. [↩]
- Here is the text of the typecast: This Nakajima ALL portable typewriter is an interesting machine. The platen is wrapped in a thin, printed sheet of paper. The various images on the roll are what appear to be pharmaceuticals, architectural designs and cosmetics. Presumably this typewriter was aimed at the business market, as it features both the pound and dollar signs. Its all-plastic body construction is durable, though not exactly solid. The alignment is a bit off at times. Apart from the ALL label, there are no identifying marks. This typewriter was sold under many names — Royal and Alder, for example — and the casing seems purposely generic. [↩]
How cool is that. I could never have imagined that there’d be a typewriter with a platen covered with paper, let alone paper with a Japanese pop design print. I wonder if the paper was meant to be peeled away before the typewriter is to be used, something that you should never do now, of course.
I’m not sure I would have purchased this machine if it did not have the paper-covered platen. Certainly unique. I can’t imagine that the paper is meant to be removed, as it fits very snugly around the platen. The previous owner even typed on it. I’ve ceased even typing on it entirely, as I fear the paper will peel further!
If anyone reads Japanese, please translate.
I wondered the same thing about the paper being temporary protective covering. Perhaps it became permanent from not being removed for a long time. The text is in Chinese, not Japanese. It’s Traditional Chinese characters rather than Simplified Chinese. Taiwan and Hong Kong still use the former, but China and Singapore use the latter (since the 50s). The second photo looks like it is advertising Royal Jelly (which is sold in vials). I assume the text in the third photo is referring to a different product since it is on the other side of the platen? It says the product is for the treatment of insomnia, anxiety and stress, etc., and is effective for the whole day. My Chinese is average at best so I won’t swear to 100% accuracy in translation 🙂
My first impression was that it was advertising, but then I thought, no, that would be tacky. But maybe it is advertising. How strange.
As the typewriter has both the dollar and pound signs, perhaps that places it in Hong Kong?
Perhaps this was meant to protect the platen from typebar damage. I remember seeing older typewriters in my school office with their platens wrapped in paper; and one of my machines, a 1948 Remington Standard, came with a big Legal-size page (with text dated 1971!) wrapped tightly around the platen cylinder and held in place with cellophan tape. When i removed the wrapping, the cylinder was immaculate: no dents, no cracks, not a single mark on it. Were not for the fact that the rubber had hardened quite a bit, I would’ve thought it was a new platen.
Perhaps that’s the idea behind this? I mean, if those are actually ads for products sold somewhere in China, maybe the idea was to protect the platen and lenghten the useful life of this typewriter.
Wow. It looks unused and very clean.
I feel 99% sure that the paper was a temporary cover for the rubber platen. But keep it on!
Found a Nakajima All model 550 in my fathers attic in perfect condition.
Only problem is the carriage roller is locked, wont move.
Does anybody know how to unlock/fix this?
Does anyone know what the ALL 550 is worth in AUD
Would someone please tell me precisely what ribbon goes on my vintage Nakijima “Pentagon” typewriter?
Many thanks Edward
heh, check the comments on your listing for this machine at TWDB. I’m heading way out on a limb and calling this a 1988 based on a theory I have about Nakajima (or basically all Japanese typewriters) serial numbers, and a negative inference about an identical Sears-branded machine found here: https://typewriterdatabase.com/see.14907.typewriter#discussion
Wish I had a Sears Catalog that late to validate the decade for certain, though.
Interesting. There are a ton of catalogs here: https://christmas.musetechnical.com/.
OK, found this on eBay: https://www.ebay.com/itm/274315102208
The paperwork dates the machine to 1988!
I found one in my cupboard in full working conditions. Only F key is missing. Beautiful mechanical piece b up t do need some cleaning