So You Want to Start Collecting Typewriters?

OlympiaSM9Before anything else, this advice is aimed at the Filipino typewriter collector. The Philippines is a collecting environment very different from where the bulk of other collectors and collectable typewriters are, the US mainland. You are vying for relatively few machines with a surprisingly large number of, or aggressive (not sure which) collectors. That said, let us begin.

First, consider your reasons. Why do you want to collect typewriters? People collect for nearly as many reasons as there are people. Nostalgia is a primary reason. Commonly, people collect because sometime in their lives they got in contact with a typewriter. They may have used one or someone in their family did. That contact imprinted and there’s a feel-good that’s locked in with the machines.

Romance is another. Another reason for collecting typewriters has to do with an appreciation for the machine itself. Although obsolete technology compared to the ease of using a word processor, the typewriter was an ingenious device in its own right, requiring no more than the pressure of a human finger to produce a standardised printed word. It worked slowly and it was tedious to correct. Yet this selfsame machine made it possible for a sizeable number of writers to share their innermost thoughts with the rest of the world.

Resistance and escape. In our world of burgeoning technology and data overload, there are those who seek to push back or escape. Or not buy in. A typewriter allows them to do that. It is a single purpose machine that has remained essentially unchanged from the time it was invented to the last machines built. It is a passive machine that will sit there, allowing the user to cogitate and ruminate. It’s not rushing light years ahead w ith so many gigahertz to processing ability while a human stumbles about and orders his or her thoughts.

Faddishness. Retro decor. Hipsterism. Whatever. These and more, or combinations thereof make for the reasons of collecting.

Next, join an enthusiast’s group. Thanks to social media, there are a number of special interest groups out there that you can join. I’m with the Antique Typewriter Collectors group. Joining these groups helps the beginning collector become aware of the different kinds of typewriters there are out there and also gives an idea of how much they are worth. Besides that, the groups also help the beginner with frequently asked questions (FAQs) having to do with the hobby. There are also blogs of typewriter collectors that you might want to follow and peruse. It’s fun to interact with like-minded people and there no little assurance in knowing there are people on this planet who share your affliction and are thriving and normal people otherwise. 

Finally, work with what’s available. Filipino typewriter collectors typically patrol the Facebook market and OLX the way blacktip sharks patrol particular shoals. Unless you happen to be a particularly deep-pocketed collector, you will want to work with reasonably priced specimens, the kinds that usually bubble up on the said trading sites. Mind you, be wary of scams and never agree to meet ups in unlikely places. Meet only in public places and bring company if necessary. Until you have chalked up experience and become familiar with traders on the market, do not agree to transferring money to unknown accounts. A final word of advice: if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.

In picture: Olympia SM9 1969

 

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