Friday, November 8, 2013

Writers and Their Typewriters, #3

Personal Typewriter; Portable Typewriter Smith-Corona Classic 12 available today. Handsomely styled with sleek, modern lines, it has the solid construction, built-in dependability and advanced features that have made Smith-Corona portable typewriters the first choice of millions the world over. In excellent condition. 
Remington Letter-Riter, a portable typewriter you'll take pride in owning and pleasure in typing. It features 42 keys, and an 84-character keyboard. In good condition.
Seen in up-scale store window
 Boca Raton, FL

     Two internet classifieds among twenty-three advertising the sale of portable, personal, and in-demand typewriters. And that's just on one day, two weeks ago. Typewriters are sought after by young and old––writers, collectors, even store window designers. View this CBS News Video, Typewriter Renaissance, to see what I mean.

     I've attached the following from The John Updike Society, dated June 1, 2010, for your interest:
John Updike’s typewriter is for sale.
Christie’s Auction House has listed John Updike’s Olympia “electric 65c” typewriter with cover and metal typewriter cart as Lot Number 318 in Sale 2328, Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts Including Americana. The estimate for the typewriter is $4000-$6000. June 22, 2010 is the date of the auction.
The lot description dates the typewriter from 1967-68, probably purchased when Updike lived with his family in London from 1968-69 not long after he wroteCouples. Of interest is the ribbon, which passed only once and recorded a speech for a Gordon College commencement, a paragraph on writing well, a letter regarding an intro he wrote for Kafka’sComplete Short Stories, and a letter to his typist. According to Christie’s, “the typewriter was given to one of his daughters about 15 years before his death.”
Call it a case of bad timing. The Society is in the process of establishing an archive, with several collections already donated. But we’re just a little too new to have the money to purchase something like this to preserve for future museum display.  The Updike typewriter is one of two in the sale, with Jack Kerouac’s priced in the $20,000 range. But the Updike typewriter is priced in the same range as a manuscript of Walt Whitman’s, and higher than a typed and signed letter from J.D. Salinger.
UPDATE:  Christie’s lists the price realized as $4,375 for the typewriter.

I hope I've continued to pique your interest on typewriters with this third in a series (see Writers and Their Typewriters #1  and  Writers and Their Typewriters #2.)
Do you have a typewriter? How did you come by your typewriter(s)? Do you use it, or is it more of a collection item? Tell me, I'd love to know.


  1. Another wonderful post.

    The interaction between writer and typewriter goes beyond the act of typing. It includes feeding the paper, setting the margins, consciously applying different pressures to account for different strengths of each finger, occassionally changing the ribbon, and other little and not-so-little tasks that engaged the writer with the machine. They not only brought one close to the other, but also, I'm sure, helped provide inspiration and reflection to the writer during these interruptions, as he/she dealt with the typewriter's necessary task of the moment.

    I find it totally logical for a lover of writing with the means to purchase the typewriter used by an admired author, I would take a book by the author and type a chapter on the typewriter with which those very words were initially written. The purpose of the experience would not be to channel the author but to attempt to feel what the author felt when the words flowed from his/her finger tips.

    Could the experience trigger a different level of inspiration? I doubt I'll ever know.


    1. Well RB, I can tell you this. One time I walked through Mt. Vernon, home of George Washington, and I had hoped to feel his presence––room to room and climbing narrow steps. Did I? I don't know, but I can tell you that I can bring that memory back sharp and clear and feel I brushed against him. Years later, I walked through Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson, and the sensation was far more palpable (or so it was in my mind). What would I feel typing in Updike's typewriter? What would I feel playing the ivories and blacks of Chopin? I would like to think it was "illuminating."