About this blog

This blog is about the daily activities in a busy typewriter shop. I want to share with you the many interesting people who come in here, the beautiful machines I get and most of all the great typewriter stories that people share with me!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Typewriter Event In Philly

Announcing the first Philadelphia


A Pleasant Afternoon of

Manual Typewriting

SATURDAY, 18 December,1 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
 BRIDGEWATER’S PUB, South Concourse30th Street Station, 30th & Market Sts.Philadelphia
SEE a choice display of vintage writing machines BRING your favorite functioning manual typewriter (plus one or two to swap/sell) COMPETE in a typing contest; win modest prizes COMPOSE a holiday letter (we’ll supply paper & stamped envelopes) to your loved ones CONSULT with an experienced typewriter technician   ENJOY the excellent kitchen & vast selection of craft beers at Bridgewater’s Pub

The Type-IN is FREE, but please RSVP to phillytyper@gmail.com with Type-IN on the subject line.
 humbly sponsored by trophy bikes university city
& the trophy bike garage of northern liberties

     A few days ago, I got an email from someone in Philadelphia who was putting together a gathering of manual typewriter users. He wanted to know if I would post his flyer on my blog to help spread the word. You bet I would! I also really wish I could go. I got really excited after reading his flyer and email. It would be so cool if people around the country started organizing typewriter events. Typewriter enthusiasts from all walks of life getting together to share stories, experiences and support each other. We need to do something like this in Boston. This growing interest in old manual typewriters and typewriters in general is such a joy to watch. I'd love to hear your comments on this.

     A friend of mine sent me this link to the New York Times article earlier this year about Cormac McCarthy's Olivetti L-32 selling at auction for $254,500. Most of you know this but not everyone and it was a very important typewriter story. The NY Times article had alot of good information in it. I know that after the auction I couldn't find a L-32 anywhere for a reasonable price for about six months. http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/04/cormac-mccarthys-typewriter-brings-254500-at-auction/ 

      Last week I had to reorder a bunch of cleaning supplies I use to repair typewriters including typewriter oil from Ames Supply Co. They sadly informed me that they can't get typewriter oil anymore. The company that made it no longer does. And, they don't know anyone else making typewriter oil. This was a real bummer. I need a good oil to repair machines. I immediately called several other wholesalers and heard the same story. This is a familiar story these days. As anyone in the business will tell you, its gets harder every year to get what you need to run a repair shop. Every year more ribbons and parts are discontinued making my job more difficult. But today I got some good news. My friend Matt from New Jersey called to say that he saw on the typewriter forum that Ames just scored a supply of typewriter oil and its in shipment. He knew that I would be excited and he was right. I'm a happy camper now. I don't know why that bothered me so much but it really did.

   A few days ago a minister from a north shore church came in with a Olympia SM-7 repair. He said that this was the machine he took to college and now he uses it to type out marriage certificates. Several months ago he decided to treat himself and buy a new manual typewriter. You know, the Olivetti 35 from China for around $100.00. He said he almost died after taking it out of the box and trying it. After two minutes he repacked it and sent it back along with an angry letter about what a poorly made product they sold him. So now the SM-7's looking pretty good again. We had a good laugh about it and he says that I should keep one of those new machines on the table so people will see it and want to buy one of the older better machines.   
Another perfect example of why older is better. 
     I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. We have much to be thankful for! Have a great weekend everyone. 


Friday, November 19, 2010

Teenagers and Typewriters

Thirteen tear old Emma checks out a Corona flattop

     Now, most people these days wouldn't put those two words in the same sentence. Around here, we do all the time. The neatest thing going on in the shop in recent years has been teenagers coming in and buying vintage portable manual typewriters. It started out as a handful of kids coming in over the summer seven or eight years ago and grew every year to the point that its no longer a trend. Parents started coming in and buying them as Christmas gifts and birthday presents for the kids. Its so funny watching some of the dads coming in with their kid, and he'll walk in with his head down and say  "I don't know why but for some reason  my kid wants a typewriter. What do you have." Then I'll glance over at the kid and give him a wink as he's gazing around the room in awe. 
     After awhile I started asking the teens that come in why they were interested in typing when they had their computers. I got lots of different answers but the most common ones were, its cool and different or its more fun than my computer. It took awhile to figure out but most teens don't think twice about typewriters. The ones coming in are the creative type of kids. That is the ones that are the future writers, artists, musicians, poets, actors, photographers, etc...
     I sell alot of vintage typewriters every year and over half of them are to teens. I include high school and college kids amoung them. They are dicovering that connection between typing are writing that older writers have always talked about. I for one, am very excited about young people becoming typewriter enthusiasts and I see many teens that are totally into it and started collecting typewriters.
     For me, nothing is more fun than watching a sixteen year old girl (or boy), picking out a old Corona or a shiney black 1930 Royal for their birthday present. Its fun to watch the process of them deciding which machine to buy as they line up six or seven machines that they like and slowly eliminate them down to two or three and then agonize over that final decision. Some kids imediately see the machine they want and its a easy choice. The best part are the killer smiles on their faces as they leave the shop with their new old typewriter. Its like Christmas morning all the time. I never get tired of that. Sometimes I'll get a phone call from a parent months later saying how much their daughter loves the machine and still types everyday. How cool is that!
     Many more teens are bring in their parents or grandparents typewriter or picking them up at garage or yard sales and getting them cleaned and tuned up to use. Older kids are getting them on Ebay. But they're finding them and using them in many different ways. My daughter has had a 1940's Royal Companion since she was seven and I can see her now typing up newsletters to friends and dinner menu's for the week for my wife and I. I wish I could post some of them, they're hysterical, but my daughter would kill me.
     I guess that there is still life left in those old clunkers after all. LONG LIVE TYPEWRITERS!

      Its been pretty busy at the shop this week. I got buried in repairs early in the week. So I've been chained to my bench all week trying to catch up. I had a perfect example of a before and after picture on a Burgandy Corona repair that came in on Monday and picked up on Friday. Check out the difference. Thats what we do around here, take beat up machines and make them fully functional and beautiful. I had some nice sales too. An older gentleman came in and bought his wife a beautiful Royal Model 10 for her birthday. That was sweet. Today I sold a Green Olympia SM 3 in mint condition to a man who was replacing a rusted out Olivetti Praxis. Great choice.
     My friend John is coming in tomorrow and bring in a L-32 in mint condition for me and more vintage typewriter ads. I've got to get a scanner so I can post some of these ads here because they are really cool. A lot of history in many of these and some are just plain funny. I've got close to a hundred of them now and sell them in the shop.

 Well, thats it for this week. Thanks for checking it out. Everybody have a great weekend!

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Typewriter With Some History

Top cover of case depicting Boot Camps
      Every once in a while someone walks in the shop with a typewriter repair in a beat up, graffiti covered or travel sticker covered case. This imediately gets my attention because it usually means a machine thats been around the country or world. This machine was both.

Left side panel showing stops in Great Britain

     The young lady bring in this repair, Alexandra, quickly told me that this machine belonged to her grandfather and that it was now her most prized possession. With great pride she told me her grandfather was a reporter for the Worcester Telegram and Gazette for most of his life. He was working as a reporter up untill he past away in his 90's. I started to ask questions about the meaning of all the countries and towns in Europe. She said her grandfather was in WW II as a reporter and was sending stories back home. He painted on the case everywhere he went, which you can see is all over war torn Europe. On the left side panel he drew the troop transport ship he took to Bristol. The bottom shows the landing craft number he was on that landed at Omaha Beach in Normandy.

Right side panel shows stops in Europe

     The right panel shows all the stops he made on the Army's march through France, Belgium and Germany. What a amazing journey this man and his typewriter went on. One can only imagine him typing stories on this machine as he hears artillery bombardment in the distance. Or writing of heroic deeds witnessed firsthand on the frontlines of the battlefield. If only this machine could talk...

This machine looks like its been in a war.

     Finally you can see that the machine is very worn and beat up. It had not been used in some time as it was severely rusted. I was able to remove alot of the rust and get the machine back into really good running condition again. Alexandra was very excited when she picked up the machine earlier this week. She said she plans to write creatively on it and can't wait to start. I'm sure the energy stored up in this machine will only help to inspire her writing.  

    In other news this week, I've had many repairs come in week and a few typewriters sales. This afternoon a couple from Manhatten, in town on business came in and purchased a Hermes 3000. One of the nice ones with the curved front. Boy was he happy to find that. After typing for about ten seconds, he looks up at me with huge smile and says "This is it. This is it. I'm so happy." That makes my day too!
     Looking forward to a visit tomorrow from Abraham. He's bringing in a few machines. We always have a good laugh together and hope the Bruins go all the way this year.
     I've got a fun story for you next week. Check it out if you can. Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Welcome to my new blog

My home away from home
     Thanks for checking out my very first posting. I hope all you typewriter enthusiasts out there will check this out from time to time. I will try to post new reports each week about what's going on in the shop. I will share interesting stories from customers, feature classic and cool machines that pass through the store. Down the road I would like to feature a column on maybe typewriter repair tips or a machine of the month thing. I would really, really like your comments about what you would like to see in this column. This blog will be a work in progress for a while.
     These past few weeks I've been really building up my stock of vintage manual typewriters. I sell lots of old machines between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I like to have a large and varied collection for people to choose from. My friend John from Cambridge has been instrumental in picking up really mint condition stuff. I mean the machines that people start to drool over when I open the case. My friend Abraham has also been extremely helpful and supportive. So much so that I recently appointed him the Typewriter Ambassador of New England.
This Goverment issue WWI  LC Smith just sold
     I'm getting lots of Olympia SM3,4,7 & 9's in different colors and typefaces, including script. Also bunches of 1930's Royal portables and  Model 10's, Olivetti L-22 & 32's, pre-WWII Corona flattops , and curved fronts and many other odd machines that I'll post pictures of after they have been reconditioned.
     A couple of weeks ago I made a new friend, Matt from New Jersey. He found my web site a few months ago and starting calling me to talk about typewriters. Eventually he said his sixteenth birthday was coming up and he was going to tell his mother that all he wants is to go to Boston so he could check out my shop. Well , a few weeks later he calls up all excited and says I'm coming to Boston. Matt and his mom drove up 5 hours and showed up at 10:30 Friday morning. They stayed all day Friday and a few more hours on Saturday. Matt brought up three of his favorite machines for me to repair which I did in time for his trip home. I think he typed on every machine in the shop and clearly was having the greatest time. I am extremely impressed with Matts passion for typewriters and his extensive knowledge. He researches everything thoughly. Matt is also a typecaster and has his own blog called Adventures in Typewriterdom. He's well worth checking out. Its great to young people so passionate about typewriters and picking up the torch from us older folks.

     On Labor Day, Boston's local NPR station aired a story on my shop. If you listen to it you'll hear few good typewriter stories.

     Thanks again for checking out my first blog. Please comment and make suggestions. I really want to know what you would like to see on here.