Functioning manual typewriters have seen an enormous surge in popularity over the past decade. Sometimes, I have the wonderful opportunity to discuss the above titled question with potential customers. While the answers vary, a common pattern has emerged.
The younger generation is growing tired of the constant connection and lack of “alone time”. Being engaged/reachable/interrupted by someone else in any given situation has many craving a more controlled, personal and private experience. A vintage manual typewriter provides that.
The older generation is usually looking for a specific model that their grandparents, parents or themselves once had.
Some desire lighting the fire of creativity, or to simply own a piece of functioning art. Others are interested in the design or historical significance.
Nostalgia. Personality. History. Beauty.
While the ownership reasons are as unique as the machines themselves, there is one constant; those searching for a typewriter want them to be capable of writing. Be it letters, poems or novels.
So, there really isn’t a definitive answer. Only a thousand unique reasons why so many, young and old alike, love (or love the thought of) vintage typewriters. What’s your “answer”?
I'm confused. How do I buy a typewriter from you? They're all marked "SOLD!"
The demand for professionally refurbished, warranted, original vintage typewriters has never been higher! You're not the only person taking an interest in these beautiful writing machines. Your son or daughter, regardless of age, is not necessarily weird, gifted or an old soul because they asked for or show interest in manual typewriters ;-) The vast majority of my customer base is under the age of 30 and are simply looking for a way to disconnect with the "I see you and all that you do" culture they are living in. They want typewriters that are fully functional and original. This has been the norm (at least with my business) for more than 5 years! With the demand being so high, it's impossible for one person to meet that demand. These are not "Made in China" replicas that come off a boat every few weeks. These are 50 - 120 year old, original typewriters. It takes time to refurbish each one. You can't rush it.
So, most people contact me directly in regard to a specific make/model/color/font. I check my inventory and if I have one, I pull it and start the refub process. Once finished, I email pictures and details to the customer. If they like it (normally the case), I invoice them and ship once payment has been received. If they decide not to buy it, I list it on the site. That's why I only list an average of 2 typewriters per week on the site. They sell before they even get listed. I have waiting lists for certain makes/models/colors/fonts and I work on those lists throughout the year as well. When something is listed on the site, it usually sells within hours. I had one interested party a few weeks ago ask this very question. I told her that had she found the site just the day before, she could have chosen from 12 different typewriters. I had just finished marking the last one SOLD! when she phoned. They typically go fast!
I leave the ones marked as SOLD! on the site to give potential buyers an idea of some of the various makes and models available. Of course this doesn't even scratch the surface of the true number of variations. They're just some of the more popular ones. If you know what you want and don't see it listed for sale, contact me. I'll see what I have and be in touch shortly.
Why does your website look so old/bland?
Because I want my customers to focus on the typewriters and not background fluff. Take online auction/store websites, for example. Many of those sellers use flowers, antique lamps, desks, a doily or other props to make the typewriter more appealing. What buyers don't realize is, in that surrounding, anything looks good. It's a sales tactic that's been around forever. Why? Because it works. They get you to pay $300, $400 or more for typewriters with major issues or cosmetic damage. You only see the cosmetic issues when it's delivered. That's when you say, "Wait a minute! This looked a lot better on the listing. Is this the same typewriter?". Then you go to the listing and now you see that the front left frame of the typewriter did have a crack in it and that the decals were damaged when you bought it. The seller had you looking at so many things, you couldn't focus on what you were buying. This is a story I have heard hundreds of times from people hoping I can restore the typewriter so it looks like they thought it did when they bought it. This is why I use neutral earth tones and keep the site simple in regard to décor. I want every customer to really see what they are buying. No tricks and no gimmicks.
Could you please provide me with a list of the products I need to refurbish my own typewriter? I also want detailed instructions on the process. Thanks!
Wow! I have started getting this "simple" request almost on a daily basis! The short answers is, "No.".
To even be able to buy the products I use would require a federal tax ID and, with some suppliers, a wholesalers license. Most "kitchen table refurbis hers" don't have either.
It's also expensive. Two products I use are only sold in 55 gallon drums. Example; At as little as $10 per gallon, you'd have to spend $550, plus tax and freight shipping. I wish they were $10 per gallon!
You also need to know how to use the products. Some will dissolve rubber and the typewriter will have to be disassembled at least 75%. Every machine is different and has a different process for disassembly and refurb. Taking one apart is so simple, a child could most likely do it. Getting it back together, aligned and functioning correctly is a not so easy.
You also may need special tools for certain adjustments, alignments or repairs. I've been told there are tons of videos on YT where you can learn this simple process, but from what I've been told, most methods are just wrong. Mineral Oil, kerosene, bleach, acetone, motor oil and other common products won't make your typewriter look better or work better. Find a qualified typewriter repair shop via google and have a professional take care of it. Amateur methods and products will produce amateur results.
Do you have any typewriters that aren't listed on your website?
Absolutely! If you email me what you're looking for there is a good chance I have it or know someone who does.
Can I bring my typewriter to your shop for repair?
Maybe! Technically, I'm not a Typewriter Repair Shop. Typewriter repair shops only repair typewriters. I buy, refurbish and resell typewriters. Mainly replacing my own collection with better condition machines and then selling from my private collection. I do refurbish typewriters as described here. If you are local (I'm located east of Charlotte, NC), I'm more than happy to take a look at your typewriter and repair, service or refurbish per your request. You would need to contact me to schedule an appointment. If you are not local and only want/need repair work performed, please use the highlighted link at the beginning of this answer to find a repair shop near you :-)
Do you sell/repair IBM Selectrics, Wheelwriters, or other electric machines?
No I don't, but here's a gentleman in NC that has over 60 years experience with them and is currently still working on them. He sells refurbished and serviced machines and even works on manual typewriters. Give him a call for current pricing and turnaround times. Bert Townsend - 1.336.788.2100 or 1.336.724.7810 .
Will you buy/sell/repair an electric typewriter?
I only work on manual typewriters from the late 1800's up to the 1960's. I don't have the training, tools or parts to work on electric machines.
Do you sell ribbons? Can't find any info on your site about it!
Yes! I sell ribbons for every machine made from 1873 to the 1960's. You will find ribbons under the page Typewriter Supplies. Since model specific ribbon spools haven't been manufactured in any quantity for more than 20 years, you have to use the Universal ones or wind the new 1/2" ribbon onto your original spools. If you don't have original spools and your typewriter needs them, I offer some for an additional cost. One question I get a lot is whether the universal ribbon will fit a green/purple/orange/blue colored typewriter. The ribbon will work regardless of the color of the typewriter. The paint (as with the ribbon) has nothing to do with the functioning of the typewriter itself. Don't believe a seller who says, "Just add a new ribbon and it'll work great!". That's not often the case. If the ribbon you buy from me doesn't advance properly, it's either installed incorrectly, needs the original spools or something is wrong with the ribbon advancing system. Ribbons will not make your machine function properly. It has to be able to that with or without a ribbon. The ribbon only supplies ink so you can read what is typed.
How much is the shipping to US zip code XXXXX?
If you live in the United States, you receive FREE Insured S&H with your typewriter purchase. Small orders also ship free to all US addresses via USPS Priority Mail.
You offer a serious warranty with your typewriters. Is this important?
Absolutely! I hear from buyers everyday that bought a typewriter from a "professional" typewriter restorer on ebay, etsy or online and are having major issues. Sometimes the issues seem to have been due to improper or poor packing. Other instances are clearly due to an item not being as described. Anyone offering a typewriter for sale that claims it has been professionally or otherwise serviced, refurbished or restored should offer a minimum 90 day warranty. If it's a good make/model to begin with (i.e. Olympia, most Royals, Underwoods and others), I feel they should offer a minimum 1 year warranty. I also think (if the repair person has done a good job) that they should offer to pay shipping both ways if a warranty issue occurs. That's my policy anyway. Before you pay someone $300+ for a "Restored" or "Refurbished" typewriter, make sure you get the warranty in writing. If they balk at your request, they either don't trust their own work or they're scamming people. Plain and simple.
Do you take consignments?
Not often and never from someone unknown to me. Listed consignments are reserved for customers who wish to sell their typewriter or collection that was purchased from me originally. Since the downturn in the economy, I have had several customers contact me in regard to consigning their machines through my website. The machines have to be in my possession, fully refurbished (or serviced if it's been a long time since the refurb) and the seller must sign an agreement of other terms. I don't accept consignments for found typewriters or ebay/etsy buys unless the machine is extremely rare and has a strong international interest.
Can you send me more pictures?
Absolutely! I always make more pictures available upon request. The web site only allows 3 pictures per listing. Ebay allows up to 12 pictures and that's why there were always more on the ebay listings when I sold there.
Why are you selling on Amazon?
I'm not. The only place you can buy a genuine Vintage Typewriter Shoppe typewriter is on this site. I don't sell typewriters anywhere else. I have recently received several inquiries about this and it's not me. There is a company called Classic Vintage Typewriters(formerly The Sage Store) that has stolen my intellectual property by copying and pasting my descriptions on their listings. They've been doing it on ebay since 2011 and have apparently moved to Amazon as well. I believe they do this so people will think they are buying from me. Whatever the reason, it's dishonest. I have also received several phone calls from their customers who are having various problems. They contact me because they think they bought from me. If you buy from someone else, you need to contact the seller and ask them to spend their time and money correcting the problem. Again, there are so many scammers making easy money with "refurbished" but "as is" vintage typewriters, you really need to do your homework to avoid being ripped off.
I have a ******* typewriter. Can you tell me what it's worth?
For value I need detailed information and pictures of all sides, decals, any damage, etc. I can then give a ballpark estimate. It's very likely worth more than what other "expert" sites claim. They are not interested in updating their sites in regard to current collecting conditions. Antique typewriters have taken a serious hit in value, while "undesirable" typewriters(just about any typewriter made after 1935 as quoted by the "experts") have become VERY desirable. People have gotten away from collecting display/investment only typewriters. 90% of my customer base actually use their typewriters. Be aware of current market conditions and don't rely on outdated books/websites in regard to value!
What payments do you accept?
Mainly paypal. I also accept personal checks and money orders but they have to be made out to me personally. Since I rarely receive paper payments, I closed my local business bank account years ago. There is no free checking with business accounts, so I was paying $25 per month for an empty account. Please contact me if you would like to pay with a personal check or money order.
Are you on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Etc
No. Aside from the feeling too much of the users privacy is being collected and shared, I simply don't have time for it. I'm extremely busy and can barely keep up with the emails, phone calls and typewriter requests.
Are these pictures of the actual item or do you use stock photos like some other sellers?
I never use "stock" photos. I always post actual pictures of the item for sale. You deserve to see exactly what you're buying! I also use a unique tan linen back drop, so if you see pictures that look like mine, they were probably "stolen" from my site.
I'm looking for a refurbished Oliver 5, 7, 9, 11 or Oliver parts. Do you have any?
I only deal in the early model Oliver's. Models 2 and 3 nd occasionally and 11. I don't sell parts at all. The people you need to contact in regard to Oliver typewriters is Sandy and Jim over at The Oliver Typewriter Shop! They've been around almost as long as I have, so they must be doing something right ;-) Here's a little description that Sandy emailed over;
"We specialize in restoring and selling Oliver Typewriters and typewriter memorabilia. We have a number of reproduced and original Oliver typewriter items for sale, like, manuals, cable returns and ribbons. On request we sell parts for Oliver 5, 7, 9's and 11's. In addition, we have a great selection of ribbons to fit your pre-World War II typewriter!"
It's unlikely you'll find a better dealer in regard to Oliver's!
Why do you offer a full money back guarantee?
I am so confident that you will love your typewriter that I am even willing to pay for the return S&H so that my customer isn't out anything! There is no company that I am aware of that will offer a full refund including return S&H! For example, if you have a claim through paypal for an ebay purchase, you have to pay for the return shipping even if the item is not what you won. How fair is that? I stand behind every item I sell and you won't lose a penny if it's not as described! Try finding that kind of customer service anywhere else :-)
As busy as you are, why don't you hire someone to help?
I am very busy and have to answer emails, phone calls, pack and ship orders, order supplies, refurbish typewriters, update the website and pay the bills. It's not easy but neither is hiring a helper. The problem is lack of knowledge. Why hire someone who will simply have to come ask me for the answer? It takes years of training to learn how to refurbish typewriters( At least the way I do it). So, even with plenty of people looking for work, this is a very unique field and it's hard to find someone who will reduce my workload.
As a side note: One thing that would help me out is for potential customers to actually read the information on the website. I receive over 100 emails each week asking about shipping costs for lower 48 addresses, whether or not the typewriters are functioning, can you still buy typewriter ribbons, how much does the typewriter weigh, can you refurbish the typewriter before you ship it because I want to use it, does it have a case, do you pack them securely so it will arrive undamaged, do you ship to CA, OR, NY, etc. Most of these questions are answered on the item page and several other places on the website. I am here to help and answer questions, but when the customer is on the item page and calls me to ask what year it was made and what the shipping is to New York, you have to wonder why they aren't reading the information that's right in front of them ;-)