I can remember exactly when my love affair started. I was 8 years old and living in a small town in western Tennessee. There was a clothing shop on the square that my mom would shop in from time to time and in the display window the shop owner kept several old typewriters. I could sit and play with them for hours while my mom shopped and chatted. That obsession never stopped. It wasn't until about 13 years ago that I bought my first, a 1967 teal Olivetti Studio 45 with case. I took it with me to college and used the hell out of it. Currently it is with a friend overseas and I miss it.
- They must work
- They must be $100 or less. Unless it is an extraordinarily rare or early machine, I just cannot justify spending more.
After my Olivetti was my 1960s Smith and Corona Galaxy. This machine is my little work horse. It still has its original ribbon and is in flawless shape.
This is my 1927 Underwood. This thing is a beast. My parents bought it for me as a gift when they went to Round Top. She works beautifully and is just a lovely thing.
My husband inherited his mother's 1940s Royal complete with original desk after she passed. It is such a classic.
A couple years back I picked up a large 1950s Royal for a steal at $15. The tag said it didn't work, but someone clearly didn't take the time they needed with it. After playing with it for a while the keys no longer stuck and it worked perfectly.
While on a road trip with my dad in New Mexico, I was able to check the 1930s off my list with a sleek, portable Remington.
When we got back I found my favorite machine, a 1900s L.C. Smith. My mouth dropped open when I saw it at an antique store with it's case. When I discovered it worked, I about passed out. I keep it covered on my bookshelf. If this thing became gunked up with dust, I'd be devastated.
My lovely parents surprised me again with the most magnificent of all my typewriters, a 1910s Oliver. I mean wow, look at this beauty!
Over winter break this year I found my most practical piece, a 1940s portable, in case Smith and Corona. The only down side of this one, is the case is stinky with mildew. I've been airing it out for a while and it's made a huge difference.
I do have one purchase that I'm on the fence about. I bought it off of eBay and feel a little bit taken. It's my 1920s folding field Corona with case. Nowhere in the description did it say it had rust and you couldn't really tell from the photos. This is why I'm not big on buying them online. They are not easily shipped back to the original owner, so once you purchase it, there's no going back. The rust on this little guy isn't too bad, so I figured it would be a good piece to practice light restoration. Other than the cosmetic rust, it works beautifully and the bell even dings.
My final typewriter and the one I think is the most fun, is my most recent purchase, also via the internet, this time Etsy. It's a 1960s Sears Constellation that types in CURSIVE! How awesome is that! I'm going to get so much use out of it.
It's probably clear from what I own, that Smith and Corona is my favorite brand. They just have so much variation and such classically beautiful machines.
I want to end this with a few a few opinions.
First I HATE seeing typewriter keys for sale. I've spoken with so many sellers that say if they can't sell their working machines, they sell them for parts. It's such a travesty that they would be cannibalized for cheap jewelry. Also, for what you buy one lot of typewriter keys, you could have actually just bought a beautiful working machine.
Second, if you're in the market for a typewriter, avoid Etsy. If you're willing to go through 80+ pages to find one that is a reasonable price, then have at it. It did work for me once, but for the most part the ones on that site are outrageously overpriced, by a couple hundred dollars or more. If you can't find one in the wild, eBay is a better bet, just watch for being overcharged on shipping.