A most elegant design
The Kamkap is one of those machines you wish came in an adult package. Sleek and elegant, it’s a beauty to behold, but only pint-sized — my adult fingers struggled to find the keys. Yet the Kamkap stands out in that it so closely resembles an adult typewriter. A child must have felt very “grown up” receiving one of these — “This ain’t no toy!” reads one advertisement.
Interesting enough, collector Richard Polt notes that there is a near equivalent of the Kamkap, called the Byron (see post and photos here), but this might simply be a case of “separated at birth.”
Manufactured in England, the Kamkap was introduced in 1956 and sold through 1958, at a variety of retailers, including Sears. Initially, it was priced at around $30.
Despite being a reasonable facsimile of an adult typewriter, the Kamkap is nonetheless a toy. The typing action and alignment are not solid, being what one would expect from a toy. That said, it is a serviceable machine. It offers shifting for figures and symbols, and the italicized, sans serif font is pleasing to the eye. A child could type a report on it.
One interesting feature is the finger rest key above the right shift key (see photos below). This non-operational key seems to function as a “place-holder” for touch typing.
Kamkap offered optional carrying cases: a leather satchel or a hard case. Mine came with the hard case.
Sometimes called the “Super DeLuxe Model” or the “Revere,”1 the Kamkap was manufactured by Petite in Nottingham, England. A very similar looking machine, called the Petite, was also offered in 1956. That machine has fewer features and is more brightly colored. On that note, it is interesting to observe that subsequent machines from Petite were more child-friendly, looking more and more like toys than real typewriters.
Regarding the location of the serial number, I did find one marking: 14ML11 — near the draw cord line (see photo below). This is
either the serial number or else a casting mark.2
Click on images to enlarge. You can also download a PDF of the manual here.
The rubber on the platen is hard, so typing out this sample was a bit of a challenge. What I can say is that the all-caps font is very appropriate for a child’s typewriter: playful, yet acceptable for academic work. The sans serif font is italicized, but quite readable. The keyboard is certainly designed for a child’s fingers (small and compact).
- Byron Jardine Limited – from Barlock to Petite — Page in German, but Google seems to offer a decent translation
- Richard Pol’ts Revere
- ETConline on the Kamkap
© 2014, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.