Nov 10, 2011

Collecting Typewriters

In this electronically dominate world there may exist a person who does not know what it feels like to press down on the keys of a typewriter, to hear that delicious click-clack, and to literally see their words spread across a page. I feel sorry for that person. Typewriters are iconic, cathartic, and stirring. There are many writers who insist a masterpiece must by touch typed on a typewriter. I think it's the click-clack that gets me. 

Before the birth of typewriter style we are most familiar with, there were many patents and early models. One being the Hanson Writing Ball, which was the first commercially produced typing machine. The first successful commercial typewriter was the Sholes and Gidden  type-writer, created in 1868. By 1910, the manual typewriter had reached a standard design. Manufactures took some liberties, but the bones of the machine were the same. 

If you are interested in collecting antique typewriters, I am told, you must begin by learning some important terms. For example: keyboard machines vs. index machines, inking types, typebars, planten and understrokes. This site offers aid with terminology. The Early Typewriter Collectors Association puts out a quarterly called ETCetera. It is in full color and filled with resources, stories and photographs. 

If it's links your looking for The Percy Smock Corner is full of web resources, book lists, and organizations. You will even find  a link for typewriters that are displayed publicly, like the History Center in Olmsted County (Rochester MN) having a number of old machines including a #3 Corona. And check out this page for links, facts, preservation and even typewriter styled font for your computer.  The Early Office Museum has a concise history of the typewriter with photographs and the former editors of ETC... (the typewriter quarterly) maintain this site which offers a web museum and database. 

Don't miss this interview, from Collectors Weekly, with Etc. publisher, Richard Polt. He discusses the history, how he began his collection, some prized pieces and the future of typewriters. On another site Martin Howard shares some of his most honored antique typewriters in "Confessions Of A Antique Typewriter Collector."


Thank you etsy sellers for the use of your amazing photographs. All the typewriters you see here are available for purchase.

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