Thursday, February 13, 2014

Together Again For the First Time: The Deep East Texas Broken Typewriter Collection

Above, left to right: (01) (Brother) Webster 300, (02) Sears Chevron, (03) (Olivetti) Underwood 330, (04) Royal Royalite '65,  (05)  (Royal) Singer Scholastic T-4, (06) Smith-Corona electric.

Above, left to right: (07) Royal Caravan, (08) Smith-Corona Skyriter, (09) Hermes Rocket, (10) Montgomery-Ward Escort 350.

Above, left to right: (11) Olivetti Lettera 22, (12) Olivetti Lettera 22, (13) Olivetti Lettera 32, (14) Olivetti Lettera 32, (15) Royal Sprite.

Above, left to right: (16) Remington Noiseless, (17) Smith-Corona electric (I am not necessarily a collector of electrics and don't know much about them. They're just This one was gifted to me by my mother, as it belonged to her boyfriend when he died in December).

Above, left to right: (18) Underwood Standard, (19) Royal HH.

Above, left to right:) (20) Olivetti Studio 44, (21) (Olivetti) Underwood 21, (22) (Brother) Montgomery-Ward Signature 510, (23) (Smith-Corona) Sears Citation 12, (24) (Smith-Corona) Sears Tower President XII.

Above: (25) Smith-Corona word processing typewriter, early 1990s. Still packed in foam, with all paperwork. Probably used just a few times.

Above, left to right: (26) Hermes 3000, (27) Olympia DeLuxe, (28) Royal Sabre.

Above, left to right: (29) Remington Personal-Riter, (30) (Olivetti) Montgomery-Ward Escort 450, (31) Olivetti Lettera 35

Above, left to right: (32) Smith-Corona Silent Super, (33) Royal Model O, (34) Underwood Noiseless (in wrong case, long story).

Above, left to right: (35) (Smith-Corona) Tower, (36) Remington-Rand Portable Deluxe.

Above, left to right: (37) Remington Letter-Riter, (38) Underwood Golden Touch Jewell, (39) Royal Quiet Deluxe.

Above, left to right: (40) Smith-Corona Clipper, (41) Underwood Universal Quiet Touch.

Above, left to right: (42) Smith-Corona Clipper, (43) Royal Heritage. 

Here at last, all are in the same room. It's a very small room, mind you, but it is a room. In fact, there is so little space between the two facing shelves that I couldn't step back far enough to get good pictures, and not enough light to make everything completely visible. Regardless, here they are...all 43 of my adopted children. Some have led lives of reckless abandon and abuse, while some have been stored away and forgotten for half a century. Some work flawlessly while some not at all. They are what they are, but at least they're here.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Tales From the Inside

Rockers and Skyriters and Chevrons and Escorts and 22s and 32s...
 Finally got a day off, the the moving of the typewriters has begun. There are two metal shelves in the walk-in closet that face each other, with about 3-1/2 ft between them. I moved most (34) of the typewriters in today.
And Sprites and Royalites and Personal-Riters and Signatures and President XIIs....
As you can see, the adjustable brackets on the left shelf need to be let down so that the typewriters fit better. The idea is to put them in sideways, as you can see I did with the Olivetti 22s and 32s above. They need about another inch of clearance to truly fit comfortably.
And Model Os and 3000s and Noiselesses and gifted electrics...
 But, with the brackets on the left shelf properly adjusted, it looks like everything is going to fit. There are two shelves fully empty, and just a few more typewriters left in the storage unit to go. The only things that are not going to work with this setup are the Underwood Standard and the great big fat Royal HH that are still in the storage unit. I could just give them a shelf all their own, though.
And on and on and on....
So, with that done (and it looks like rain most of this week, so who knows when that's going to happen), the Deep East Texas Broken Typewriter Museum will be back in business. Can't wait.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

What's it Worth? Who the Hell Knows?

Thank you for your service, Sgt. Olivetti.

I can only guess how people determine the value of the typewriters they're trying to sell. A few weeks ago I saw an old Olivetti on eBay that apparently served in Vietnam. It was started at a $99 opening bid so I put it on my watch list. I wasn't prepared to spend $99, even for a Valentine (which seemed to have been recklessly spray-painted an olive-drab green), and I watched as the clock expired and it was re-listed. This time it was reduced to a $75 opening bid, but yet again the auction ended and there were no takers. I almost jumped at it at that price, and perhaps I should have. I got a notice two days ago that it had been re-listed yet again, and the seller must have suddenly realized  that it was a valuable piece of history and it was slapped with a Buy-it-Now price of $300. I theorized that somehow it would sell instantly, but I just checked and it's still there. No idea of what formula is used to determine the value of a typewriter. I can tell you that this is the cheapest Valentine being offered at present on eBay. Others are $399, $535, $549, $699, and $760. It's a beautiful machine and there is a demand, but come on. The fact that these are still available and not being snapped up right away proves that they're way overvalued.

Even if it worked, a wee bit high.
Elsewhere, in Lufkin, I visited an antiques store yesterday and noticed two typewriters, only one of which I got a photo of. The huge Royal pictured is pretty, but the $100 price put me off. I messed with it a little, but some of the keys seemed stuck, so I left it alone. It was not something I'd seriously consider purchasing since the last thing I need is another big heavy broken typewriter. Are there price guides for typewriters, as there are for baseball cards, comic books, and Disney memorabilia? There should be. The lady at the counter engaged me briefly about typewriters and she told me that a guy comes in and looks for them because he cuts the keys off and makes jewelry. Friggin' choppers. Take a decent machine and cut the keys off, then throw the rest of it away. No better than ivory poachers if you ask me.

There was a second machine upstairs. I didn't get a picture. It was a Smith Corona-made Tower, very similar to the one I saw at the other antiques store a few weeks ago. It seemed to be filled with pencil shavings but otherwise worked as far as I could tell. Again, I didn't give it a detailed examination because the price tag threw me. I didn't have my reading glasses and needed them, but it looked like it said $6.00. But again, that could be $60. Now, $6 is way too cheap. If I get that typewriter downstairs and try to pay for it and they tell me the price is wrong I'm gonna be pissed. And it's a consignment place, so who's to say that the lady at the counter even knows what it's supposed to cost? She might let me have it for $6, and the owner is screwed. But if the intended price for that Tower is $60, forget it. That's a waste of cash as far as I'm concerned. I already have one Tower exactly like it, one Tower similar to it, and several S-C variants of the same machine, and none of them cost $60. In fact, I got one of them for a dollar. So that's that.

Again, I don't know what typewriters are worth. I have a price ceiling, and that keeps certain machines out of my reach forever. If I can get something I like that falls within my range, I'll do it. But otherwise, no thanks. Again, we need a Bob Overstreet to tell us what we're doing here. Every old broken typewriter can not be worth $65-$100. That's just insanity.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Read My Typos and Weep

Here are the facts: A) Meat Loaf's Dead Ringer album wasn't very good, and B) a Jim Steinman album without Jim Steinman producing it isn't really worth hearing. That aside (and, seriously, a duet on the album with Cher?), this is probably the strongest track on the disc. It was actually covered by Barry Manilow a few years later (and there's a creepy video of Barry's version with him in white clownface), but this is better. Meat is seen at a portable typewriter at several points in the video. I have to wonder what he's typing. He seems really intense about it. Dear Sammich: I love you. I want to cover you with mustard, and dip you in aus jus sauce....

Jokes aside, Meat Loaf is in many ways the Elvis of my generation. The fact that he's appearing in Vegas now has sealed this for me. He is in the increasingly less-unique position of being a sixty-five-year-old rock star now, though, and that is tarnishing the legend a bit. Someday he'll be gone, with any luck we'll forget/forgive the last freakshow twenty-odd years of his life.

No Way to Clean a Typewriter

The late, great Irish rock guitarist Gary Moore had a minor hit in 1990 with his song "Still Got the Blues" from the album of the same name. An awesome song and strong album, no doubt about it. But I find this video a little stressful. Time and time again, with every repeated viewing, a beautiful and seeming functional classic typewriter is dumped into a bucket of water (at around 3:37). This sort of unchecked aggression and blatant typewriter abuse will not stand. Moore died of a heart attack in Spain at age 58 on Feb. 6, 2011.