Reflections from 一 to 龠

My New (Old) Japanese Typewriters

My New (Old) Japanese Typewriters

“My name is John Marshall. I’m an artist trained in Japan living in Mendocino County. Recently I came into two Japanese typewriters from the 1920s/1930s. They were packed away in 1939 and have only just been unpacked.”

So began an email I received in October 2011 entitled “Japanese Typewriter photos” that culminated, many months later, in a visit by my wife and I to the town of Covello a few hours north of San Francisco. Here we met with John Marshall, a profoundly fascinating artist and human being who went to Japan at age 17 to be apprenticed in katazome 型染め, a traditional Japanese dye technique, and whose studio grounds – a converted flour mill of old that still bears the vibrant energetic signature of its past – act as host to the the town’s annual blackberry festival. My wife Chiara and I enjoyed a relaxed conversation with Mr. Marshall, who told us about the history of Covelo, as well as the history of the machines he was kind enough to entrust into my care: two Japanese typewriters from the 1920s and 1930s (one of which is pictured here). I look forward to telling more about this history in my research on Chinese and Japanese typewriting.

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