A Cracker from Malacca

I had planned to call this post A Clacker from Malacca, until I found out “clacker” is Australian slang for something not very complimentary. I settled instead for “a cracker” which in the British vernacular means “a fine example of something”.


Two barely legible stamped ink impressions on either side of the ribbon cover of this Olympia SF De Luxe (since removed during cleaning) revealed a little about its history:

Penguasa Kastam Pegawai
Johor Bahru


Which translates roughly to:

Customs Administration Office

Johor Bahru

Johor Bahru being the capital of the state of Johor in Peninsular Malaysia.


On the inside of the ribbon cover, an interesting label reveals more of the typewriter’s history:


Repaired by:
Seng’s Typewriter Service
36 Second Cross Street,
Malacca. 16-9-69

A search for “Seng’s Typewriter Service” led me to TREASURY CIRCULAR LETTER NO.13 YEAR 1961:


1962 is also the year matched to this typewriter’s (502460) serial number.


The distributor plate on the back of the typewriter (commonplace in Australia) confirms its Malaysian identity …


Singapore, Penang and Kuala Lumpur …


Although Malaysia’s most famous entertainer, P. Ramlee, made his name in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, his roots began in Penang.

Officially opened on 22 March 1986, his former home in Kuala Lumpur, Pustaka Peringatan P Ramlee (The P Ramlee Memorial), now houses a collection of his awards, clothes, musical equipment, documents, photos and personal artefacts, including his Royal typewriter.


The memorial is maintained by Arkib Negara Malaysia (Archive of Malaysia).


Hermes 2000?

Born Teuku Zakaria Teuku Nyak Puteh (1929-1973) P. Ramlee was an actor, director, screenwriter, singer, musician and composer, whose career spanned from the late 1940s to the early 1970s.


A man with many strings to his bow.

P. Ramlee died at the age of 44 from a heart attack. During his lifetime he directed and acted in 66 films, composed more than 300 songs, and also found time to write screenplays and radio plays.

A relatively short life, but a productive one.

3 thoughts on “A Cracker from Malacca

  1. Good sleuthing!

    As Bill suggested, there is an American meaning of “cracker”—basically, an epithet applied to white people by black people. I think it comes from “whipcracker.”


  2. Congratulations on the fine looking typewriter. It is always nice to know a bit of the history for the machine.

    First time I’ve heard of Mr. Ramlee.

    In Florida ‘Cracker’ has an all together different meaning.


Comments are closed.