How to find a manual typewriter, part 3: The refurb market


In parts one and two of the finding a typewriter series, I covered the cheaper end of the typewriter racket: Freecycle and garage sales. Ah, you say, I’m forgetting eBay. Well, I will get to that eventually. But for today’s installment, I am covering stores that sell refurbished typewriters directly.

As of this writing, I am aware of three such retailers: Blue Moon Camera, in Portland Oregon, The St. Louis Wholesale Typewriter Company, a.k.a. Mr. Typewriter, and mytypewriter.com. If there are others, please update me.

Blue Moon is a shop that specializes in, obviously, cameras, but they have a small collection of typewriters for sale at any given time, and if you e-mail them to inquire, they will send you a product list with prices. I asked about one Royal Quiet De Luxe in particular, and they sent me beautiful, professional photographs of the machine from all angles. Their prices are definitely quite reasonable for refurbished typewriters. Check here first, I would strongly advise. They seem to care a lot about their business and their typewriters come with a three month warranty.

On to mytypewriter.com. This is an excellent place to window shop. Their prices are high. I have not contacted or done any business with them, so this is the extent of what I know.

Lastly we have the St. Louis Wholesale Typewriter Company. This company is run by a man named Dan Puls, who has been in the typewriter business for some time. There is a definite sense of the man and his personality on the site; I encourage you to take a look around (but beware of sudden MIDI tunes!). This site is another great place to window shop and learn more about various typewriter models. My sense, and I am sure that this varies by machine, is that the prices are not quite as high here as they are at mytypewriter, but these machines are not cheap. This is of course, for the reason that resellers do a professional job of choosing, cleaning, refurbishing, and packaging machines, and when you get yours, it will be ready to use out of the box. It’s up to the consumer to decide that these extras are worth the cost.

My refurb purchase: a case study

After researching typewriter models for a spell, I decided on the Olympia SM9, which seems to come highly recommended from most every typewriting corner. Now you can find these here and there on eBay, it’s true, for a reasonable cost. However, such a purchase would come of course, with some hazards, and the chore of having the machine refurbished once I received it (assuming it didn’t become broken in transit). I decided that I just wanted a nice, well-maintained model, with some guarantees, and I was willing to put up for that convenience.

And so, I made my purchase. In about a week or so, UPS arrived with my package. The mrtypewriter site amusingly illustrates its packing process, and as you can see from my photographs, the typewriter came well-packed. I’ve never seen a box taped up quite that thoroughly before, and my own dad is known as something of a maniacal package-taper.

Pros of buying a refurbished typewriter

* Get exactly the typewriter that you want

* Receive a typewriter in guaranteed working condition with cleaned and replaced parts

* Will likely be professionally packed for shipment

* Your typewriter will be waxed to a gleam, and not contain old bug husks and cocoons.

* Can start writing out of the box; probably comes with a new ribbon

* Will likely come with a case and a manual (ask about this).

Cons of the refurb route:

* Not cheap. Except I’d say, Blue Moon is very reasonable (but lacks the huge selection).


Recommendation:

I recommend this method with some reservation, depending on your budget, your desire to avoid hassles, your quality concerns, and how much you specifically want a certain machine. I think you have to decide this for yourself.

How to find a manual typewriter: the series
* Part 1: Freecycle
* Part 2: Garage sales
* Part 3: The refurb market
* Part 4: A refurbishing story
* Part 5: eBay
* Part 6: Antique stores
* Part 7: Blue Moon Camera & Machine

2 Comments

  1. I bought two typewriters from Dan over the years: an IBM Selectric III and a Royal Quiet DeLuxe. Both were in near-mint shape. He is an excellent craftsman and an honest and interesting guy. He takes pride in his work.

    http://www.orcutt.net

  2. Agreed, I have to say, the typewriter he sold me was in sterling condition.