I developed a little problem over the past year. What started as an idea to get me writing more became a full-on typewriter obsession that has helped me write but has also emptied my frivolous spending account. While that is what a frivolous spending account is for, there are other frivolous things I would like to buy but now can’t. Instead, I have typewriters.
My son, Justin, actually picked up a couple of typewriters a few years ago and used them to type reports for school. He has an appreciation for the mechanical. I believe he was born at least twenty years too late, since he likes film photography, vinyl records, bicycles, and of course, typewriters. I share his vintage nature, but the typewriter bug was not yet ready to sink its teeth into me, even after seeing how they could be converted to connect to a computer monitor or tablet.
At the end of last year, I started checking for a typewriter of my own, not knowing Justin’s two typewriters were still in the basement gathering dust after his move. I casually looked on Craigslist and eBay with the notion someone out there would have a decent machine for cheap or free. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on something that might help me write more. It wasn’t until January I finally found something I liked and had a decent price tag.
I came home with a massive Royal KMG desktop typewriter for $30. It was in great condition and worked well, though the ribbon was a bit dry. I happily typed on it for a little while, though I didn’t get any real writing done. My fingers were certainly not yet in shape to do any extensive typing.
When I told Justin I bought my own typewriter, he said I was welcome to dig his out and use them, since they were still here. Of course, I went right down and found the Remington Quiet-Riter (pictured above), stuck some paper in it, and began typing. It was easier to use than the Royal and became my go-to machine.
But it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. And so begins addiction.
It all started when I searched eBay to find what the models of the machines I had. Then I started seeing all the machines I did not have, including… red typewriters!
I covet red things, and a red typewriter made a double-whammy. I had to have a red typewriter but not so much I was willing to pay several hundred dollars. I have limits. And patience. I knew the right machine would come my way and held out hope after losing auction after auction. Finally, I won a red Royal Duotone!
It’s a cute little thing and works well, though the ribbon on it is also dry. It is different from any other machine I’ve seen (though I’ve known about them) in that the entire carriage moves up and down to shift. It’s so portable, I dreamed of taking it to the park and finishing my novel. But another part of me worried about ruining my darling. Plus typing on it was a bit awkward. The round keys feel funny. While I had a beautiful red typewriter, it didn’t quite satisfy my desire.
After several more lost auctions and much sadness, the planets aligned, and I won a burgundy Smith & Corona Sterling that looked gorgeous. It cost a couple hundred less than what looked like a machine in similar condition I had lost a couple weeks previously. After a delay in shipping that had me in a panic, I finally received it.
What the auction failed to mention was the typewriter was pristine. The case was almost perfect. All the original paperwork, tags, and even the keys (though they have a manufacturer defect rendering them useless) were included. The shipping blocks had never been removed from the case. The envelope in which the manual came was even in there. The only “flaw” was what I assumed was the original owner’s name written on the envelope and manual. Enclosed was also one typed sheet of exercises from the manual and more of the owner’s name. I suspect this was the only thing ever typed on this machine.
I almost feel guilty for getting this at the price I did, but I thoroughly appreciate it and use it. I even sent the seller a thank you and told him I would put it to good use. He sent me three more typewriter ribbons free of charge. Getting such a nice machine helped put my lust for more typewriters to rest for a while.
But I really want a pink Smith & Corona.