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21-12-2020 22:47:26  #1

Do you live in, or know of a "typewriter town"?

Here in Portland, Oregon we are pretty blessed when it comes to typewriter culture. For example, in addition to the multitude of thrift shops and antique stores, we have multiple businesses that specialize in selling typewriters. We also have type-ins (or did before the pandemic hit that is). In addition, we have multiple typewriter repair shops. For these reasons, I've come to consider Portland a typewriter town. I'm guessing that many of the bigger cities would likely have a similar combination of typewriter-related elements. Still, a place needn't have all of these things to be considered a typewriter town. Do you happen to live in, or know of a typewriter town? Please share.


21-12-2020 23:35:11  #2

Re: Do you live in, or know of a "typewriter town"?

Huh. You make a good case for Portland which ameliorates some of my recent negativity: typewriters, civil unrest, typewriters, civil unrest.... I might give the upper hand to typewriters, any place can have an little unrest, after all?

New York City is, surprisingly, not a typewriter town. A few years ago I searched and did not see one typewriter centric club, there are only a few repair shops in the metropolis and not much of a market for typewriters. Hobbies in general seem beneath or above or laterally displaced from the interests of most New Yorkers, working all the time and being angry and such. I'm on the island from time to time, and encouraged that in any line of storefronts which look like a piece of a traditional town, there is often an actual hobby store. Maybe Nassau County is a typewriter town.

"Damn the torpedoes! Four bells, Captain Drayton".

21-12-2020 23:51:51  #3

Re: Do you live in, or know of a "typewriter town"?

Don't get me wrong, Portland has more than its fair share of problems. But as far as typewritemosphere goes, it's a pretty good place. I'm curious to learn of others.

     Thread Starter

22-12-2020 05:31:27  #4

Re: Do you live in, or know of a "typewriter town"?

Portland sounds indeed like a typewriter town. As far as I know, we do not have such place in the Netherlands. There are a handful of vintage shops scattered over the country  that also sell typewriters. I think the biggest source of typewriters is the Dutch online marketplace,


22-12-2020 06:24:40  #5

Re: Do you live in, or know of a "typewriter town"?

The last time my wife and I were visiting Victoria, British Columbia, we happened upon a rather novel stationary store. Not only did they design and produce much of the stationary that they sold, but they also had a number of typewriter booths set up for people to rent by the hour. Each booth featured a different typewriter. So a person could walk in and buy some stationary and then type out a letter on that stationary using one their typewriters on the spot.

Now I don't know if Victoria would be considered a typewriter town, but I must admit that I had never seen that before.

     Thread Starter

22-12-2020 15:24:48  #6

Re: Do you live in, or know of a "typewriter town"?

I would consider the greater Toronto area to be a typewriter town. Aside from Toronto being the largest city in the country, Toronto was once home to a number of typewriter manufacturers. The Canadian brand Commodore was assembled here. Underwood, Olympia and I think Remington had factories here too. Royal and Smith-Corona had factories in Montreal, so American brands had a strong presence in the area.

The used market is fairly large and diverse, but it has been destroyed in recent years by parasitic middlemen. When I started collecting, a $50 typewriter was considered to be quite expensive. I still consider that a lot for any make or model, but now it's common to see machines advertised at $500 or more. The only reason for these ridiculous prices are the aforementioned middlemen who buy as many inexpensive machines as they can get their hands on, give them a cursory cleaning, and sell them for ten times what they paid for them.

The latest trend for these typewriter flippers is to give the machines gaudy paint jobs, presumably to make them seem more rare to uninformed buyers (I once argued at length with someone that the Royal FP he wanted to buy for an obscene price was not originally painted shiny gold by the factory).

There are also a great number of antique shops in the city, and a few good antique markets, all of which makes finding a typewriter a fairly simple task. 

There were a number of repair shops, but they've been slowly disappearing and I can only think of three that are still around. I wouldn't entertain using two of them. The third is the only reputable shop, but it's run by a octogenarian and I can't imagine his brick and mortar business will be around much longer.

There are of course a number of guys in the area who like to advertise themselves as typewriter repairmen, but they're really just shade tree handymen who think that their tinkering skills are sufficient qualifications for the job.

There's not much of a typewriter culture though in Toronto. At least not one that I'm aware of. There were attempts in the past at organized type-ins, but they were run by a fledgling typewriter business that was trying to lure new customers. 

I've officially stopped collecting, and rarely look at what's available in the area, but if I do buy a machine now it's most likely from another local collector. My latest purchase was a couple of weeks ago, an Adler Tippa that I got from Valiant (another member here). He's constantly buying and selling machines, and is one of those guys who finds machines at the curb...


22-12-2020 18:58:24  #7

Re: Do you live in, or know of a "typewriter town"?

Uwe, thanks for your incredibly detailed response. Thank you as well as for putting together this forum. By and large, forums remain my favorite online medium for information exchange and knowledge gathering. Even though members might come and go, the wisdom shared over the years remains to be easily sifted through by others who come later on such as myself. Of course I also understand that a grain of salt is often required in such cases as not all "knowledge" shared is necessarily well-informed despite the best efforts to share what is known (at least I don't believe there are that many people who set out to intentionally misinform others).

I can understand your frustration over pricing and fear that those frustrations are only going to grow more and more with time. However, while middlemen certainly play a role in the escalating prices of typewriter today, there are certainly other factors at play.

Typewriters represent a rare analog experience that I haven't been a part of for many, many years. I never abandoned my turntable and vinyl LPs when CDs came around, nor when streaming took hold as I enjoyed both the ritual and the experience of vinyl playback in addition to appreciating the sonic qualities this medium brings. Similarly, I've been using film cameras since I was in grade school. I've always enjoyed these tools for reasons very similar to my turntables and never abandoned them. 

In the case of both turntables/vinyl LPs and film cameras (both of which I've been involved with for nearly five decades now), I've watched with equal levels of amusement and alarm as prices for items associated with both endeavors have risen dramatically and in some cases shockingly so. Most notable among these is my old camera gear made by the Germany-based company Leica (whose cameras and lenses were both made in Midland, Ontario for a period of time). Given that film photography has experienced a renewed interest, combined with the fact that the vast majority of camera manufacturers no longer make film cameras, Leica prices in particular are appreciating at unbelievable rates these days. Meanwhile, a more sane level of appreciation (and beyond in some cases) is being enjoyed by quite a number of other film cameras and lenses as well as most vinyl LPs and a few of the older turntables (unlike cameras and typewriters, there are a plethora of new/current turntable manufacturers around today which. tends to keep the prices for most older turntables fairly reasonable).

While I haven't been a long-term user of typewriters as I have when it comes to turntables/vinyl playback and film cameras alike, I don't have a hard time imagining the typewriter market developing in a very similar way. With that in mind, whether there are middlemen involved or not, the prices of typewriters are likely going to continue to rise well into the future as an ever increasing number of young people (who are the primary driving forces behind the renaissances enjoyed by both film photography and vinyl playback) continue to seek more analog experiences — largely in response to much of the technology today that has in turn left a bit of a void in their lives. That's my take on it anyway. Only time will tell how this all plays out. Still, I'll be surprise if I'm wrong.

I only hope that you'll maintain your passion for typewriters. As I noted above, you've created a wonderful resource in this forum and you yourself would appear to be a font of knowledge when it comes to these awesome writing machines. It would be a shame if you aren't getting nearly as much satisfaction from this forum as you once were.

With regards to Toronto specifically, I'll admit to being surprised that there isn't more of an active typing community there, especially when considering the other typewriter-related factors that you've mentioned. Maybe this will change over time? While I might consider Portland to be quite the typewriter town, I do feel that the days of finding great typewriter bargains are nearing an end around here due to the factors that I've mentioned above. (In addition to my other hobbies that I noted, I've also seen this same phenomena occur with vintage Japanese motorcycles as well which I also have had an interest in for some time now. So again, I'm not surprised.)

     Thread Starter

22-12-2020 18:59:39  #8

Re: Do you live in, or know of a "typewriter town"?

Philadelphia may be trying to become a typewriter town. Before the pandemic it was more on its way, everything seems stagnated right now.
Phil Forrest


22-12-2020 19:40:11  #9

Re: Do you live in, or know of a "typewriter town"?

Phil_F_NM wrote:

Philadelphia may be trying to become a typewriter town. Before the pandemic it was more on its way, everything seems stagnated right now.
Phil Forrest

Yes, while the pandemic might have increased the number of people who are buying typewriters and therefore who are likely currently using them at home, it's certainly put a damper on any sort of in-person gatherings that go a long way towards building an active user community.

     Thread Starter

23-12-2020 14:34:19  #10

Re: Do you live in, or know of a "typewriter town"?

Guth, thanks for the kind words.

I don't think a direct comparison can be made between typewriter and camera/turntable pricing simply because of the difference in demand for those items.

Like you, I was a regular user of 35 mm cameras and used my turntables daily when they were the norm. Unfortunately, I sold most of my 35 mm gear years ago when I made the switch to digital, and I deeply regret that now given how little money I got for it at the time (I did keep a Zeiss Contaflex and a Rollei, but more for sentimental reasons). I never sold my audio equipment, probably because it was the only way I could still listen to my LP collection. 

As we know, LPs have made a huge comeback, and as a result there's a great demand for vinyl equipment. New turntables are still being produced, as are LPs, but this only satiates some of that demand. It's an active market, which partially explains why used LP pricing is relatively high.

Photography using film also seems to be enjoying a resurgence of sorts, although it's not nearly as large the current vinyl revival. Photography is a far more popular hobby than typewriter collecting and the demand for vintage camera gear will likely always outpace the demand/interest in typewriters.

I can't comment on the influence young people have on vinyl and film sales, but they are not the sole driving force behind typewriter sales - at least not in my area. I've been very attentive to the demographics of typewriter buyers and have found that it's just as likely that a middle-aged person wanting to revisit their youth will buy a typewriter than some millennial who actually has an interest in writing. There's even a good likelihood that a good-looking vintage machine will be purchased as an ornament for a bookshelf.

The supply of typewriters in my area has not seemed to wane at all in the past decade, there doesn't appear to be any risk of demand outstripping supply, and yet the pricing has steadily increased itself to ridiculous levels. In fact, if the local collectors that I know were to list all of their machines right now there would be a real glut of typewriters available to potential buyers.

I believe the changes I've seen in typewriter pricing are the result of a monkey-see, monkey-do situation. A middleman buys a machine for $30, spends an hour or so cleaning it and making sure it works reasonably well (sometimes they don't even do that), and then lists it online for $400. Some are slimy enough to claim that it's RARE and that it has been REFURBISHED. Very few typewriters are actually rare - and a spit polish is not a refurbishment.

If they've given it a rattle can paintjob, which I see is the latest trend, then they'll ask $550+ for the ultra-rare machine with its desirable colour.

The direct effect of these online resellers is evident in the postings of those who found a typewriter in Grandma's closet and just want to get rid of it. They have no idea what they've got, so they go online to figure out what it's worth and see the middlemen pricing, and assume their typewriter has to be worth that much too. They list their machine for a few bucks less - after all, it hasn't been refurbished and they're not sure about how rare it is.

What used to be the norm - a person selling a family typewriter for $30 just to get rid of it - is now the exception. And when such machines do get listed, they are grabbed - sometimes within minutes - by the middlemen for inventory.

Who is buying these machines at those crazy prices? Well, I know of one collector who has more money than sense, and have marveled at what he will spend of average typewriters. There are plenty of one-time buyers too who just don't know any better - and those who might know better but are simply impatient and willing to overspend to get something now.

I am of course talking about my local market. Buyers who don't live in a typewriter town have fewer options and might be more desperate, and more likely to pay too much.

The bottom line is simple: As long as there are people out there willing to pay $650 for a $30 '50s Smith-Corona Sterling with a $10 paint job, there will be people willing to sell them - and prices will remain high. If I had any sense I'd be selling off the bulk of my collection now, but no one has ever accused me of being that smart.


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