Yes, people are still buying typewriters
From vintage phones, cameras, and suitcases, Charlie Foxtrot has a wide variety of antiquities that you would see as props in a silent film rather than at your local market. Yet, with a small but passionate community, they are. Many of their decorative collectibles are what you would find in offices decades old and their typewriters are arguably the most eye-catching.
The 1950 Olivetti Lettera 22, an olive model designed in Italy and made in Scotland with round indented keys floating on their levers, and the US-made Royal Portable from the 1920’s with its classic glass-topped keys and chrome surrounds are two of many models showcased and sold out on their website.
The typewriters tend to attract people of all ages including children and teenagers who had never seen them in working condition. Owners Bruce and Sue Walker make the effort to put up a shelf at the right height for people to try the typewriters wherever they set up shop.
“They just seem to love that connection of how the print appears from pressing the key,” says Sue. “And the mechanical aspects also attract them,” adds Bruce.
They sell to quite a few parents of young children whose interest in the old machines bring a new experience to practicing English.
Since it’s more economical to choose your words wisely, the owners mention that there’s a whole community of poets, journalists and other writers who only write on typewriters. There are also people want to coddle an old habit and release the shakiness in their writing through a tool that’s more familiar.
“They want to go back to a typewriter to write notes and leave messages,” says Sue. “They usually like a particular machine that they’ve been familiar with in the past.”
Scrapbooking and typewriter art are two other reasons for going old school. The first is reminisces of the past by using dated font while the second literally paints a picture with words. “Typewriter artists actually produce pictures on a typewriter which is genuinely laborious,” says Sue.
Then there are others who see the typewriters as largely decorative pieces. With their scarcity, it helps that the ones pre-war have gone up in value. Prices typically range from $275 to under $500. Rarity, quality, and location are factors to consider.
Starting out at the Old Bus Depot Markets nearly four years ago, their reputation now draws customers with similar antiques to bring to the store. With the addition of what they find locally, many of their items are sourced from Europe and the UK.
Their typewriters, telephones, and cameras are serviced and working thanks to a passionate group of technicians and specialists in New South Wales. Careful washing and lubrication are a couple of the methods used for restoration.
Charlie Foxtrot can regularly be found in the Kirribilli Market in Sydney and the Old Bus Depot Markets in Canberra. Serviced and restored manual typewriters, ribbons and other accessories are among their products of vintage collectibles.
When asked if he’s ever seen typewriters that he’d rather keep for his personal collection, Bruce replied, “We’re in the antiques business and when you’re in that, everything you own is for sale. But you get tempted when you see really good things and you want to keep them and that’s something you actually battle with.”
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