The Case of the Mysterious Olivetti Lettera 22.

Some time ago, I invited my students to use a few of my typewriters for a project. Unfortunately, one student broke my 1954 Olivetti Lettera 22. I had two Lettera 22s, this one and a 1962 Olivetti Underwood. A basic distinction between the two is that the latter was manufactured after Olivetti took control of Underwood. Some say that the pre-merger Olivettis were built better; in this case, that seems to be true. I was very sad to have what had turned out to be my favorite “ultra” portable typewriter broken. I preferred its key response, its overall action, and its typeface. The student had snapped its carriage lever, leaving an irretrievable cut screw in the joint. It’s pretty hard to type without a carriage lever. I tried and tried to fix the machine, but there seemed to be no hope. Finally, I decided to merge the machines, switching the carriages so that my 1954 Olivetti could work again. It took some doing, albeit I was surprised to see how easy it was to remove the carriages. These photos show the final result. I might keep the two-tone look.

Someday someone will find this typewriter. The new owner might be puzzled by the mixed parts, but he or she will have one hell of a good typewriter to use.


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Bill M says:

    Nice work on the typewriter. I’ve heard the same about the Lettera 32 made in Italy and later in Spain. I too, like mixing and matching the ribbon cover on the 2 Lettera 22s I have.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mcfeats says:

      Thank you. It looks like some two-tone car. I am not sure which color to use on the paper guiding plate. The brown one just says “Olivetti,” indicating the pre-merger model.


  2. Richard P says:

    Sorry to hear about the mishap! These folding levers on Olivettis are a bit delicate. I didn’t know it was easy to remove the carriage.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mcfeats says:

      I simply had to take out two screws in the back to undo the carriage stop. Adjusting the tooth-bar in the escapement is easy, too. (Apologies for the improvised vocab.)


  3. Nice job! It looks great. I recently received a 1966 Olivetti-Underwood Lettera 22 from my mother. It seems to have a few people stumped though. The serial number marks it as one made in Barcelona, but the back of the machine is clearly marked ‘Limited Made in Canada’. Other than 2 keys being transposed from my other Italian 22, everything inside is completely the same. The touch is a bit sluggish, but I’m chalking that up to grungy segment slots. Just because I’m curious now, I want to try to remove the carriage since there are no bearings to deal with.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mcfeats says:

      Thank you. Yeah. It was easy. I did break the drawstring, but its days were numbered anyway. I think the Lettera 22 is much better than the Hermes Rocket, albeit it’s heavier, too. Your Canadian label is intriguing.

      I had lots of eraser bits hidden inside mine. Taking off the carriage made it easy to clean.


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