Friday 26 July 2013

Typewriter Spotting - July 26th, 2013

My wife and I were due for a trip to a large antiques centre which is located about half an hour from our house. I thought that if I saw something worthwhile, I'd consider purchasing it. So, we dropped the kids off at school, went back home for a quick cup of coffee, and then off we went.

It's a large, cavernous former factory where this antiques centre is located. It's made up of stalls run by various vendors and there's definitely an eclectic mix of stuff on offer. Everything from a 1950s aluminium construction worker's helmet to a six-inch Predator figure still in its box.
It would take a good, leisurely couple of hours to have a look at everything in this place. And, the first time we came here, we soon realised how frigging cold it can get inside a large, cavernous former factory, so, this time 'round, we rugged up. However, by the time we were done looking, my finger-tips were pale and numb.
Next time, I'll wear gloves.

But I was on the lookout for typewriters, 35mm cameras, if something caught my eye, and binoculars, although I already have a decent vintage pair.

Anyway, the first typewriter I saw was an orange plastic Adler Contessa, selling for $95 bucks.

Too orange, too girly, too expensive, I thought, and I'm not a fan of plastic typewriters. Also, with two Lettera 32s, a Groma Kolibri and a Splendid 99, I figured my small portable typewriter stable was pretty well-stocked.
The next machine I came across was this Royal Portable from 1930 (according to the sales ticket);

It had an okay duo-tone blue finish to it, and it typed quite nicely, but I already have a 1928 model in the red alligator finish. Seller wanted $285 for this one. I thought this price to be pretty steep, but I'm fairly certain that some cashed-up hipster will see it and fall in love with it. Looked just like the machine in "Tin-Tin". This typewriter will be gone within a week or two.
Next up was this Hermes Ambassador. I think they were asking ninety-five bucks for this one, but it looked (to my untrained eye) like it would need some major work, and I can't say its design thrilled me too much. If I were going for a standard typewriter, I'd aim for a Royal KHM/KMM or a Remington. I just prefer the look of them.

Moving right along, I came upon this;

It looked like it weighed at least a tonne. I tore a page out of my passport-sized notebook (I always carry pen and paper) and slotted it into the machine. I turned the platen knob and...nothing. The shiny rubber platen wouldn't grip the paper to feed it through. I gently fed the paper into the front of the platen, just behind the ribbon vibrator and typed out 'halda'. It printed out in red, since the colour selector was set to this. I didn't bother checking the price, since the slipping platen turned me off. If it were a portable, I would perhaps have considered it since it was reputedly a Hemingway favourite. And I have to say that these wide carriage models don't thrill me. It's more typewriter than I need.

Tucked underneath a saw-horse, I found this '70s(?) Remington.

Next up was this Remington Quiet-Riter, but I already have one. Couldn't see a price on this. It typed nicely enough although it could use a new ribbon;

And then I landed on...eeewww! Aaarrgghhh, my eyes, my eyes!!!

Luckily, I soon saw these. This Remington looked like it would need some serious TLC. I fed the paper into it and it typed straight and true...

...but I think this next model was in better condition. Only $60 bucks, but it had the dreaded extra-long ledger carriage that I don't like. I turned to my wife and said; "Where would I put it?"
"Well, that's the thing, isn't it?", she replied. Our house is bursting at the seams and, while I love the idea of having a machine like this on permanent display, ready to use at a moment's notice, there's just nowhere I could display this typewriter in our current house. Still, it was an imposing-looking machine. Had a real post-War newsroom vibe about it. Shame.

Continuing on, I saw an Olympia Splendid 99 selling for $169.oo! I paid sixty-one bucks for mine last year. Pass. There was another Olympia on display. It was a large, heavy standard SG-1 model and I think it had seen better days. Couldn't find the price on it. It typed okay, but again, a better ribbon was well past due on this one.

My wife called out to me, pointing to the floor of a stall to my right; "Hey, T, there's an Olivetti Studio...."
My ears pricked up. 'Please say 42, please say 42!' I thought to myself.
" ...Forty-Four in a case over there" .
It sat in its case in all its Olivetti bluey-green splendour.

I put my paper in and typed. It passed, but I don't need any Olivetti besides a Studio 42. One day, perhaps.
And there you have it. More typewriters than I expected to see, and many of them were in better condition than what I've seen here in past visits.
My pick of the bunch would have to be the sixty-dollar Remington Standard. If the carriage were of normal length, I probably would have snapped it up, despite the lack of space and the back-breaking task of carrying it a hundred feet or so back to our car. But...I have sixteen typewriters at the moment and if I buy anything else, I want to make sure it's exactly a model that I'm particularly chasing.
After I get rid of one or two that I already have.
Assuming I can bear to part with any of them.
Thanks for reading!


  1. Great typewriter hunting! Mmmm what antiques place is this?

  2. Waverly Antiques, but these are the most typewriters I've ever seen in the place. Usually, I've found three or four, and most of them have needed some serious work. But it appears that the sellers have caught on that typewriters are hot right now and have priced them accordingly. Although, some machines are way over-priced.

  3. Pretty nice. My favorite is the Ambassador, were it in better shape.

  4. Nice typewriters. Too expensive. At least you can find typewriters. Here never anything of interest.

  5. Nice machines, indeed. That wide-carriage Remington is not *that* big; the carriage protrudes only about three inches at each side. It can fit nicely on a side table. Fit it with casters, and you'd have a nice mobile typewriter to type anywhere you'd like to in your house... but that's just an idea.

    Besides, there are several creative things you can do with a wide-carriage typewriter. If you care to read the pink slip typecast in this post, you'll see what I mean:

    (Of course, this comes from a confessed Remington and IBM Typewriters fanatic).

  6. I just found a great use for my wide-ish carriage Lexikon - you can type A3 letters on it! Imagine the unbroken train of thought (or stream of consciousness) you could lay down without the inconvenience of refreshing the paper. But a KHM types just as well and looks only slightly bigger than a large portable. Heavy iron though! And I like the way your other half calls you 'T' :-) And her response was that of a very patient woman.

  7. Wow! I wish I had that much luck in my shopping. We spent most of the day shopping antique malls/peddler malls and saw 1 manual typewriter - an old Royal that wasn't in working condition. We did run across a cool old industrial-style typewriter table that we promptly bought. That was a good fine and one we really needed. Now, I have something to set my Royal on (that looks exactly like the one above except in black instead of green).