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Collecting Antique Typewriters

Updated on October 31, 2007
Corona #4 antique typewriter
Corona #4 antique typewriter

You name any item, and I'm sure there is someone out there who is collecting it. I'm a big packrat and have had many collections over the years, and I'm sure most people can say the same thing. My most enduring and passionate collection has been my antique typewriters.

Not a small or easily handled collectible, unfortunately. But I have always loved old typewriters. I love the exposed mechanics of them, I suppose. They're huge, heavy and awkward.

If you love the look of an old typewriter as much as I do, you could start your own collection. I have some basic tips for anyone wanting to start an antique typewriter collection.

Underwood #3 antique typewriter
Underwood #3 antique typewriter

Have Space

Ok, this is the biggest issue with typewriters. They are big and they are heavy. I mean, really heavy. The old ones are solid cast metal and weigh a ton. Most average book shelves won't be able to hold an old Remington or Oliver without buckling. Several of my larger units are sitting on the floor, waiting for the to-be-built custom shelving.

Shelving units designed for the garage are a good choice, as they are built to handle fairly heavy loads. They may not be the most attractive, but they will get your typewriters up off the floor.

Learn to Restore

As a mechanical device, typewriters have a level of functionality to them, unlike collectibles that just sit and look neat. In other words, they actually do something. You might not care whether or not your precious Bing typewriter types anymore, but the value of your collection will go up if your machines are in working order. Buying non-working typewriters can provide a bargain if you are willing to fix them up yourself. This isn't necessary, though you can have a lot of fun with your machines once you roll up your sleeves and get working. Many times, keys or platens are stuck due to dirt or rust. A good cleaning can make a world of difference.

Know Your Makes and Models

The name of the manufacturer is only half the identification battle. Remington made typewriters for decades, and there will be a world of difference between a Remington #2 and a #10. Besides the age difference, certain models are harder to find than others, making them more valuable.

A good typewriter or office supply collectible guide should provide you with listings and photos of all makes, models, years of typewriters on the market through history.

Know Where to Shop

Finding old typewriters can be a challenge. Due to their size, few people bother to deal in them and they are seldom seen at garage sales. But keep your eyes open at flea markets, antique stores and used furniture stores. They're not common, making the hunt all the more fun. You can find lots of antique typewriters on E-bay or other online venues. Be careful when shopping online though. Shipping can be astronomical and can quickly bust your budget, even when you find a super machine at a low price.

Antique typewriter speed medal
Antique typewriter speed medal

Branch Out

If you are having trouble acquiring actual machines, you can always satisfy yourself with other related typewriter collectibles. You can find postcards, old newspaper ads, knick knacks and even jewellery. Back when typewriters were the mainstay of any office, people could get speed medals for their proficiency in typing. I have a handful of these. They look like military medals. Old advertisements are much easier to find, and can provide great information as well, specifically for dating your typewriters.

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    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 

      4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      My main collection is antique radios, but I have a great old LC Smith and Corona typewriter. You're right, it does weigh a ton. I also have several antique sewing machines.

    • ravi1991 profile image

      Ashutosh Tiwari 

      4 years ago from Lucknow, India

      The idea is fine but you need space and lot of time of your hobby!

    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 

      6 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      The idea of restoring typewriters is interesting but probably not very lucrative as a career choice. I think the hard part would be finding replacement parts as the small parts wear out.

    • profile image

      Audrey 

      6 years ago

      See previous comment. meant to say keys possibly dirty. auto correct is very frustrating !

    • profile image

      Audrey 

      6 years ago

      We picked up a BING typewriter, no case I'm afraid. is there any value to these items that you know of. I haven't tried paper in it yet. keys seems to work, some sticky but I assume possibly sorry.

    • profile image

      Sitting In Rain 

      6 years ago

      No help what so ever. Sorri.. I typed something in, and this is not what I was looking for..

    • profile image

      Krista Smith 

      9 years ago

      So I have this LC Smith & Corona 11 typewriter that I'm trying to sell, any ideas on where I should look to do so?

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