Antique Typewriters: The Evolution of Writing Machines
Antique Typewriters: The Evolution of Writing Machines
Antique typewriter collecting is an exciting and dynamic hobby! Typewriters have been around for well over a century, and there is a unique assortment of them to explore.
Invented in 1868 by Christopher Latham Sholes, the first commercially successful typewriter was the Remington typewriter. Over the years, the design of modern typewriters was streamlined and stylized time and again, only for these beautiful machines to be replaced by computers and other word processing devices.
Despite being technologically obsolete, the vintage typewriter is a popular collectible item. From the first typewriter to more recent, streamlined models, their stunning design and nostalgia factor making them an object that will always be valued by typewriter collectors everywhere.
Antique vs Vintage Typewriters: How to Tell the Difference
The terms “antique” and “vintage” are often used interchangeably, but they actually mean different things. Antique refers to items that are over 100 years old, while “vintage” refers to items that are between 20 and 99 years old. If your typewriter was manufactured earlier than the 1920s, it’s probably considered antique. Typewriters from the 1920s and onward are considered vintage.
You can determine the age of your typewriter using its serial number. The serial number is located on the right side of your typewriter’s frame. Simply enter the serial number at The Typewriter Database to learn more about your typewriter! This database is the largest source of typewriter serial numbers available on the internet.
5 Most Valuable Typewriter Brands
There are a wide variety of different brands of typewriter that have been produced over the years. Here, we’ll discuss the top five most valuable brands that are beloved by the typewriter collector.
The Oliver Typewriter Company was located in Chicago, Illinois and was founded in 1895. This company pioneered the manufacturing of typewriters. This typewriter has a unique structure – the two type bar towers strike down onto a steel plate, with the text always remaining visible. This unique feature makes it a sought after collectible typewriter.
Royal Typewriters was established in 1904, and these old typewriters are among the most widely used. Journalists valued this typewriter for it’s reliability. The company produced the first portable typewriters in the 1920s, and in 1930 they created a compact typewriter called the Quiet De Luxe model.
This company was known as the Wagner Typewriter Company until John Underwood took over and renamed the business. The Underwood Typewriter was known for having better features than it’s contemporaries. The typewriter had three design elements that it was known for: a four-row straight keyboard, a single shift key, and front striking bars.
Smith Corona Typewriters
The Smith Corona company is known for it’s portable, small electronic typewriters. Founded in the late 1800s, the company was quite successful until personal computers with word processing capabilities were introduced. The most popular typewriter produced by this company was the Smith Corona 3 typewriter.
This typewriter company was first introduced as E. Remington & Sons, and they also produced pistols. In 1868, the company entered a contract to manufacture typewriters with the typewriter company Sholes and Glidden, and they enjoyed great commercial success.
Age vs. Value: How to Gauge the Worth of Antique and Vintage Typewriters
There are multiple factors that contribute to the value of a vintage or antique typewriter. Read on as we discuss each of these factors!
The first factor that helps determine the value of a typewriter is it’s age. Models from 1920 and earlier are considered antique, while later models are simply considered vintage. The older the typewriter, the more valuable and desirable it is to a collector.
Collectors of typewriters often seek models that have specialized fonts. Typewriters with a special font are rare, which leads to a higher value and demand for that model.
Typewriters come in a wide variety of unique designs, and the more unusual and interesting designs are sought after by collectors, lending to their value.
The origin of a typewriter depends on it’s origin. Certain brands are more valuable, as well as typewriters that come from different countries. German typewriters, for example, are often worth more than those from other countries.
Some companies produced a lot of typewriters, making them quite easy to come across. The Royal Typewriter Company is an example of such a company. Their models are worth less because they are easy to find. Rare typewriters that are hard to find tend to be more valuable.
Hundreds of companies have manufactured typewriters since they were first introduced. Some collectors have a preference for a certain brand of typewriter. The brand will help impact the value and demand for a typewriter.
The condition of a vintage or antique typewriter will affect it’s value. If it is in good working order, the typewriter will likely fetch a higher price.
Where to Buy a Vintage or Antique Typewriter
Looking to start your very own collection of typewriters? You may be wondering how to get started! Here are some of the best places to purchase antique or vintage typewriters.
Gramercy Typewriter Co.
Founded in 1932 and originally a producer of typewriters, this company still exists today. They offer fully reconditioned typewriters, as well as repair services. If you want to make a purchase, scheduling an appointment is recommended.
Etsy & eBay
Online sites such as Etsy and eBay can be an excellent source of typewriters. eBay allows you to bid on these pieces, while Etsy allows you to pay a flat price for typewriters from different vendors.
Amazon sells just about everything, and vintage typewriters are something you can find on this site! You can read reviews from different sellers to thoroughly research your item before you buy.
Antique Stores & Pawn Shops
Your local antique store or pawn shop just may be an excellent source for typewriters, though you may have to do some searching. The benefit of scoring a typewriter at shops such as these is that you might get a better deal than you would get online.
Price Tag Mysteries: How Can You Determine the Value of an Antique Typewriter?
When shopping around for collectible typewriters, it’s important to make sure that the price you are paying for the typewriter is a fair one. Or perhaps you are looking to sell a typewriter, and you want to know how to price your item.
A good starting point is to browse eBay and Etsy for vintage typewriters. See what they have been selling for on these platforms and use that as a guide. Be sure to compare more than just the brand and model number – also consider the condition. If you see that your typewriter is in better condition than a similar one that just sold for $200, you can probably price yours up a bit.
Another surefire way to determine the value of a typewriter is to have it appraised by an expert. If you can’t find out anything about your particular typewriter online, this my be the best option.
How to Inspect a Typewriter
Before you purchase a typewriter, you may want to fully inspect it to make sure it’s in working order – something you can only do when you buy in person. Here are some tips for checking out a vintage or antique typewriter before you buy.
Check the carriage: Move the carriage and see if it moves when you are typing. Check for the drawstring to be intact and keep an ear out for unusual noises.
Inspect the plate: Be sure to examine the plate for splits. Make sure it is in good condition.
Try out the typing: Do this to ensure that the carriage doesn’t jump while you type. You’ll also want to examine how the paper is pulled through the machine.
Examine the hood: Examine for missing type bars, type slugs, or corrosion.
How can I get started on collecting antique typewriters?
Research different kinds of typewriters and determine your area of focus. You might prefer certain styles or brands over others. Then, begin the hunt! Search online or at local antique, thrift, or pawn shops for models to add to your collection. Be sure to inspect purchases to ensure they are in good condition and worth the investment.
Where can I find trustworthy places to purchase old typewriters?
Read reviews on Etsy, eBay, and Amazon, or search locally for a well-known pawn shop or antique dealer.
How do I accurately determine the age and worth of a typewriter I own or plan to buy?
Typewriter collectors can determine the age and worth of a model by looking up the serial number on The Typewriter Database. Most typewriters can be found in this database.
About Collectibles Insurance Services
Collectibles Insurance Services has been protecting collections since 1966 and all coverage is provided by a carrier with a group rating of “A” (Excellent) by AM Best, the leading rating agency for the insurance industry.
Comprehensive coverage includes, but is not limited to: accidental breakage, burglary, fire, flood, loss in the mail, theft, natural disasters, and other causes of loss unless specifically excluded from the policy. Deductibles start at $0 for collector policies and we provide coverage for the market value of your collection for losses in excess of $50.
Additionally the protection extends At home and away, and we don't require collection itemization and serial number nor extensive paperwork and red tape.