1969 - 1973

Olivetti SpA

Ivrea, Italy


From the start, Olivetti's philosophy differed from other typewriter manufacturers. The belief that composition and style shouldn't yield to practicality was evident in all aspects of its business. Its factories were designed by the best architects. The Company's ads were created by the finest artists. Olivetti stores were like runway-inspired boutiques, and their typewriter, hence, were crafted by the best industrial designers. The Valentine was the work of one such brilliant visionary, Ettore Sottsass (1917 - 2007).

Actually, the Valentine was completed by British industrial designer Perry King, though it was originally and primarily the work of Sottsass, so Sottsass gets the credit. His vision was for a stylish typewriter with few features (for example, no capital letters) that was to be readily and inexpensively available to everyone. But, when Sottsass' bosses at Olivetti were in opposition to a simplified typewriter, he resigned the project, at which point King took over.

The Valentine was created in 1968 and its production commenced in 1969 (patent no.D220,292). The inner workings of it were actually nothing more than an Olivetti Lettera 32 model that was slightly modified for the Valentine's housing. The Valentine's case (patent no.3,711,175), which was really more of a cover, was also ingeniously designed so that the typewriter simply slid in and out of it. All previous typewriters, of every make and model, had suitcase-like cases. Thus, no Valentine is ever complete without its original case. Fun fact: the case was also designed so it could be stood erect and double as a waste receptacle while the user was composing.

The earliest Valentines were produced in Italy, which I did not know until fellow collector Richard Bossons pointed it out to me (thanks Richard!). It is unknown how many were made there or for how long. The Italian made versions are a bit harder to find so consider yourself lucky if you own one. As for the rest of the Valentines, the bulk were produced in Barcelona, Spain until the mid 1970s. Then, briefly in the 1980s, they were resurrected and produced in Olivetti's Mexican factory.

There were very few changes to the Valentines during the course of their production. The most obvious changes pertain to the orange ribbon caps, which were made larger on later models, and the addition of two dimples to the top of the typewriter just over the keyboard.  These dimples addressed a particular design flaw that left scuff marks on the Valentines from taking them in and out of their cases.

Other than red, Valentines were also offered in green, blue and white. It is theorized that the market that the typewriter was going to be sold in dictated the color it would be. For example, green Valentines would have been sold in French speaking countries like France and Belgium. I'm skeptical of this practice without actual proof.

The types of individuals that collect Valentines truly run the gamut. Some a are your average typewriter collectors. Others are collectors that hunt exclusively for items designed by Sottsass. One collector I know collects red Olivetti Valentines, and that's it. He has well over 200 examples. Another person bought a Valentine simply because it is the Mid-Mod typewriter.  All of these collectors are in good company since several of the world's finest art museums have Valentines in their permanent collections, too.


I'm interested in acquiring a blue or green model. Email me at