Looking for manual typewriter in San Francisco
July 24, 2004 6:44 PM   Subscribe

Reading this thread has rekindled my interest in acquiring an old manual typewriter. How much should I expect to pay for a typewriter in good working order? Are there any characteristics I should consider beyond ease of typing and appearance? Can anyone recommend a good place to look in the San Francisco area?
posted by Hegemonic to Shopping (6 answers total)
Odd that you ask this, because I was just thinking the same thing. I googled and came up with this site, which seems like a good start.
posted by BlueTrain at 7:37 PM on July 24, 2004

Holy shit. Sorry. I didn't even click on the link for the front page. The idea of typewriters sparked a past memory of using one and I went off to google. Serves me right for not reading this site for the last week.
posted by BlueTrain at 7:47 PM on July 24, 2004

How much should I expect to pay for a typewriter in good working order?

Check second-hand stores, you might get lucky. I paid $10 for my '50s Smith ~ Corona manual. Had to soak it for days to get the smell of mothballs out of it, but you can do that with a manual ;-)
posted by Shane at 8:26 AM on July 25, 2004

Best answer: Yes, check your local second-hand and thrift stores. At least around here thrift stores often have manual typewriters in various conditions and at low prices (under $10). Even a slightly broken one may of interest to you if you want to take it apart and learn its inner workings. Keep an eye out and you'll eventually find a great condition machine at those places.

There's also eBay, which is useful is you're looking for a specific model or color. The downside is the massive shipping charges for heavier units, but you might be able to find a local seller (also check sf craigslist).

There are sites and places that sell old typewriters that have been cleaned and fixed but be prepared to spend lots (i.e. $100+).

But you also need to determine what type you want. Do you want a sturdy portable unit (such as the Olivetti lettera 22 or lettera 32)? Ones like these can fit into a backpack, so you can cruise down to your local cafe and type away. Or do you want something like the Royal Standard which weighs a ton since it's built like a tank? Those often are feature-filled and aren't prone to breaking. Also, are you looking for a typewriter with a certain font type/size? Or maybe one with script? Or a non-English keyboard? Or maybe you want a brand new manual typewriter? Olivetti still makes a few models (one example).

I say just pick up a super cheap one at a garage sale or thrift store, find out what about it thrills or doesn't thrill you, and continue your typewriter love from there.
posted by gluechunk at 2:18 PM on July 25, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for the tips! I'll try the local thrift stores, or possibly one of the office machine stores in Berkeley that stocks a bunch of typewriters.
posted by Hegemonic at 3:13 PM on July 25, 2004

Also, keep in mind that replacement ribbons are easy to come by for the most part, so don't let a bad ribbon stop you from picking up an otherwise nice typewriter.
posted by gluechunk at 3:36 PM on July 25, 2004

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