The quote from Stephen King, “Sooner or later, everything that is old becomes new again” appears to apply to typewriters as well, which are currently enjoying a renaissance among collectors of all ages.
Sarah Everett, 25, a resident of Hollidaysburg, a graduate student in communications at Indiana University in Pennsylvania, has rescued more than 30 abandoned typewriters, old and new, and has traveled across the country to type, create art on fabric and gather thousands of followers on social media In the process.
She is in the company of esteemed celebrity collector Tom Hanks, songwriters John Mayer and Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning writer David McCullough, according to a recent AARP magazine article.
Then there’s author Dr Peter M. Weil of Houston, Texas, Emeritus Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Delaware.
Weil, 81, amassed a collection of 115 typewriters along with related ephemera, but sold all but two of his collection when he moved from Delaware to Texas in 2019.
Member and contributor to the Early Typewriter Collectors’ Association magazine “Etc,” Weil said he thinks analog technology, like typewriters, appeals to young collectors because “It’s more controllable and more private. “
More people collect typewriters than you think in the digital age. “Etc” more than
300 subscribers and is translated into Spanish and German for its international audience. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the collectors association held conventions that drew thousands of people from all over the world, including Argentina, Brazil, Germany, the Philippines and Europe.
During the pandemic, Weil said he believes typewriters have become extremely popular because people have time at home and enjoy a slower pace.
Everett agrees, adding the singular purpose of a typewriter frees writers from distractions – being disconnected from the internet is a plus – especially fiction writers, who emulate Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, and Agatha Christie.
“Many young people have never seen a typewriter before and are simply fascinated by it” she said. “You can’t look at Facebook or other social media when you’re in front of a typewriter. Its only job is to communicate your ideas and put them on paper. You are super focused on the act of writing.
Reconditioning typewriters also helps keep them out of landfills, she said, another of her goals. “Don’t just throw it away. They don’t make new typewriters, so someday there won’t be any more to use. Even if you use it as a decoration on a shelf, it’s better than being in the landfill ”, she said. “They are still valuable and my goal is to make them less intimidating and save them.”
His first typewriter – a Smith Corona Four Corsair Deluxe Portable – instantly grabbed Everett with its vibrant teal color.
Another favorite – the IBM Selectric 2 – is an 80-pounder used as a prop in a Netflix series shot in Pittsburgh.
“The coolest for me and one of my favorites was made by the Barbie Toy Company in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It’s about the size of a toy, but it has components electrics that type in the code ”, she said.
Unfortunately, people thought the typewriter was typing gibberish when in reality it was typing code. The instruction manual did not include this information, so many people thought it was wrong. “It’s a fascinating example of the progression of toys” she said.
The pandemic has prompted typewriter enthusiasts to hold virtual meetings or seizures in small groups. A seizure is when collectors get together with their machines and try each other out.
Everett traveled to Chicago where she met like-minded enthusiasts including collector Lucas Dul, 21, who owns a typewriter repair business.
Despite being physically based in Chicago, customers from all over the United States and beyond are shipping Dul typewriters for repair.
“Sarah’s collection is quite good,” Dul said by e-mail. “I’m impressed with the cost-efficiency of its operation, but in terms of machines, it has some wonderful examples. The Spencerian Royal is a hard to find machine and these Barbie typewriters are quite rare. She’s working on a very unique paint job for a Royal 10 which turns out to be one of the best I’ve seen. As for normal machines, it contains some which really represent the epitome of great typing. So overall I’m impressed with his collection, I think it’s a fantastic example of the wide choices within mid-century typing.
Everett also repairs typewriters for his own use.
“He was very useful to me” Everett said of Dul. “He knows everything about every typewriter. He also collects but he sells more than me. He doesn’t get attached as much as I do.
Dul’s passion for the typewriter began while in high school and saw a Royal 10 in an antique store. The old typewriters attracted him because of their “mechanical functioning”.
“I loved seeing the simple cause and the concrete effect and I appreciated the brilliance of the design” he said.
“My mom ended up giving it to me as a Christmas present that year, and I’ve taken it apart and reassembled over the past two years, learning it and researching it.” Dul said. At first he learned how to repair typewriters so he could get better deals buying machines that didn’t work, but then he started getting recommendations from friends.
“In 2019 I repaired a Hammond 12, a machine from early 1907 that really put me on the map in terms of my reputation as a repair technician. He was hailed as one of the best working examples, and I was one of the few people crazy enough to use such an old machine as a daily driver. Most of them just sat on shelves and looked pretty. It was kind of the machine that made people take me seriously. From there it exploded.
For Everett, the inspiration came from watching a 2017 documentary “California Typewriter.” Then, in 2018, she launched the YouTube channel “Just my typewriter” to connect with others. (https://www.youtube.com/c/JustMyTypewriter)
Three years later, she has thousands of followers on Instagram (@ just.my.typewriter).
Real estate sales, antique shops and online markets are his favorite places to find machinery.
Altoona, Weil said, is a typewriter-rich region due to the Pennsylvania Railroad and its successors.
Everett scours antique stores, flea markets, flea markets, and online markets for machinery. It took a year of research to find his own Barbie typewriter.
His favorite cleaning tools are mineral spirits and canned forced air, as many typewriters have gone unused and accumulate dust. She also created “How? ‘Or’ What” videos to help others recover machines.
Using a typewriter is extremely tactile as it involves the feel of the keys, the rat-a-tat sound of a key hitting the ribbon to print a letter on paper. Even among the same make and models, each typewriter is unique, collectors said.
“I have the impression that each machine is so different and has its own personality” Everett says, explaining why she names her typewriters. “They can have the same basic functions, but you can take several next to each other and they all do the same job in different ways. Names help me personify them and it has helped me differentiate myself on social media.
Everett said she uses a typewriter to write to other collectors, and Weil uses hers to write thank you notes.
When asked if she plans to write her doctoral thesis on her typewriter, Everett replied: ” Oh my God no. It would be 150 white out pages. I just can’t bring myself to do it.