tip tap type

by Grace Bonney

The cutest typewriter in the entire world. Too bad it comes with a price tag that means I have to keep looking. Pink Royal Quiet De Luxe at Etsy, $750 (ouch)

One of the things I miss about my life pre-D*S was not having anyone know how embarrassingly behind I can be on trends. While I feel comfortable predicting larger trend movements in the market as a whole, when it comes to embracing them personally, I’m always a few years behind. I don’t know if it’s because I focus on work first and then my personal life (I’m working on changing that) or if I’m just massively lazy, but I’m always the girl doing things like discovering skinny jeans after they’re passé and saying, “Have you heard of [insert totally jumped-the-shark clothing brand]? They’re awesome!”

Vintage 1960s Olympia Socialite Portable Typewriter, $235 at The Two Sparrows at Etsy

One trend that I’m oh five years late to the bandwagon for is vintage typewriters. I always look at them longingly when I travel, and I almost bought one at the Brooklyn Flea earlier this summer until I heard someone walk past the booth and say, “Man, every hipster and their brother collects these.” I felt like such a dork that I quickly turned away and decided I couldn’t get one because I was too late. But then when I started getting ready to mail out copies of Design*Sponge at Home to friends and family, I wanted a special way to leave a note. I’ve always wanted to recreate the gorgeous typewriter notecards that Amy did for Saipua, so I decided the only way to do it was to get over my “Man I’m so lame and behind the trend” phobia and order myself a typewriter.

Vintage Army Green Erika Portable Manual Typewriter, $215

So last night I spent an hour on Etsy and ordered myself one of these beauties. Am I totally behind? Yep. But do I care? Nope. I’m pretty sure that most people are still excited to get typed notes in the mail rather than an email. I’ve shared some of my favorites above and below (with links to buy), but you can check out more on Etsy right here.

*Stay tuned for a D*S book giveaway at 1pm today. If you win, you’ll get the first of my typewriter notecards in your package ;)

1960s Vintage Smith Corona Silent Super Typewriter, $200

Portable Manual Typewriter Remington, $118

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  • I’m dying to know… which one did you get? And about “trends”, if it makes you happy I say go for it. There are a lot trends that are flooding the market that I am still goo goo for (chevron stripes, ombre fabric, etc.), but there’s a reason they’re so popular – they just darn cute!

  • One- I saw a refurbished pink Royal just like that for $400 at a shop in LA.

    TWO- And this is the big one. Be very careful about buying typewriters on the internet IF YOU WANT TO ACTUALLY USE THEM FOR TYPING!

    Why? Other than gears/basic mechanics, the most important thing about a typewriter is that state of its platen. If the platen is hard, there are a few tricks to try and soften it, but you’ll probably have to end up replacing it. That adds around 80 smackers to your repair bill. So the best bet is to shop locally and buyer beware.

    That said, typewriters rule.

  • I fell in love w/ a green vintage typewriter at a flea market in Jersey abt 15 years ago. When I went back for a 2nd look, it was gone, and I’ve been kicking myself ever since. My motto is buy what you love & don’t worry about trends. Glad you got yourself something you’ve been wanting.

  • love that you did it grace and thanks for telling us. i think pink is fun but the white is classic. will look great anywhere. congrats!!! (i’m jealous ;) )

  • Maybe the trend is old enough that you’re bringing it back?? Either way, they’re great functional vintage, as long as you can spell! Alas, I cannot.

  • I want one so bad, but my concern is replacement ribbon. I find a typewriter I like, but then unable to find replacement ribbon. Grumble. Any ideas? I want one so bad.

  • I found my own vintage typewriter at the Brooklyn Flea about a year ago–it was $80 and a pretty teal. Of course, the “h” key doesn’t work, but sometimes we can’t have it all. Glad you got such a nice one!

  • If you LOVE it, it doesn’t matter about trends coming and going.

    I had wanted a typewriter for quite a while and found one a few weeks ago at a thrift store. It’s an underwood and works great! I’ve already used it to type some thank you notes, but for now it sits in our guest room for guests to write a note on.

  • I love mine, I’ve used it for art projects, gift tags, writing poems the hard way. A 1930’s model, it’s super heavy and moving it is a major chore. It sounds so beautiful and determined when I type. But my ribbon is done with. Been looking locally without much luck and just noticed the ad on your blog by a typewriter supplier. Going to checkbook out.

  • My boyfriend found an old mechanical typewriter on the street a few years ago. It might be my favorite street find, ever! It even had the beginnings of a note in it. I can’t believe someone threw it out!

  • i “inherited” a vintage typewriter from my grandfather and it’s my favorite thing in my house. not only is it beautiful, but there’s such meaning behind it, too. so glad you have one now, too!

  • you got robbed! :) i bought an amazing smith & corona (worth $495) for $40 bucks on craigslist, from a sweet old man in denver, co. all i had to buy was a new ink ribbon for $7 from office depot. i love using it!

  • You were right to buy something that you love. Who cares if you’re a late to the trend party? The most stylish people are the ones who select things they love (whether for their home or wardrobe), regardless of what’s currently “in”. You did good!

  • I have a love of typewriters. I use mine as a decoration in my living room. I also started an Etsy store (I am working on populating it with product) called Underwood Five designs– thats how dorky I am about typewriters. I am designing mad men esque baby clothes. Anyway be proud. Write notes and cherish the fact that unlike computers which you have to buy every 2 years to stay current, your typewriter will last you a lifetime.

  • $750!? Yowser! I use that exact typewriter daily for my old-timey label making and so forth and it does work like a champ, but $750 is a little nuts. My wife found ours at a thrift store several years ago for $25, and we have since seen several of those pink pretties at estate sales and such for no more than $50. Looks like you bought the white one (awesome!) but for those coveting the pink… keep your eyes peeled, send positive vibes out into the universe (that say “come to me, pink typewriter”!) and I’m sure you will find one and save yourself about $700! I enjoyed this post greatly; Thanks for sharing, and enjoy the new typewriter!

  • This makes me miss the blue Brother Charger that I got for Easter when I was seven. A couple years ago I tore apart my mother’s attic looking for it but to no avail.

  • I still have my original turquoise Smith-Corona that I got in the 60s as a Christmas gift, am not giving it up!!!

  • I’ve wanted a typewriter since I was little and used the one that belonged to a friend–I was in heaven! The tapping, the ribbon, the sense that people have been writing this way for ages, that all got to me and still does.
    But my little sister is the one who got a typewriter on her birthday a year ago. Has she used it? Nope! Now that she’s at college, am I going to accidentally take it home with me next time I visit my parents? Probably. She might love it as much as I do, but I think it should still get used.

  • I love typewriters…and have two electric ones. One I bought at Purdue University Salvage for $10. It’s a workhorse IBM. It’s HUGE, but it works perfectly! If you want a typewriter I strongly suggest you find the salvage shop at a college or university.

    The second machine is a red electric corona. I bought it at a antique mall for $25. It’s wonderful!!! I took it to my typewriter repair guy for a good cleaning and a new ribbon – all for $32. I’m lucky that my hometown (West Lafayette, IN) still has a typewriter repair shop — and the owner is a typewriter genius! If anyone has a machine that needs work, you should send it to him. Drop me an email if you want his info. He might also be able to help with ribbons!

    I use my typewriter for mail art projects and zine-ing. If you make zines, a typewriter is a much needed tool…and they look great too! My red machine sits out on my writing desk in the living room area of my loft – it pops considering my walls are ORANGE. The big IBM is upstairs in my studio. Guests always end up wanting to type something so I Ieave paper sitting by both for the impromptu letter writing session.

  • I am a writer and even though I don’t work on a typewriter, they just seem to symbolize so much for me. I wouldn’t put something that large in my house if I didn’t feel some connection with it. So I’m also on the hunt for an old working one, but won’t be looking on Etsy — hipster prices!

  • My husband bought a light teal vintage Smith-Corona at an antique shop for…are you ready for this??…$22! It is fully functional and pretty fantastic. He wanted one to write awesome letters on with his mustache stationary that I made for him.

    I don’t really pay attention to trends either. I say if you like it, why should it matter when you do your liking!

  • Trend Schmend! Good for you for getting what you want and for doing your part in keeping the U.S. Postal Service alive. Happy weekend!

  • I love typwriters! Both of ours are family treasures, and mine I really lucked out on … it’s the same kind of typewriter Ian Fleming used to write all the James Bond novels. (Here’s a shot online of a similar model: http://www.typewritermuseum.org/collection/index.php3?machine=royalqd&cat=kf). Buying ribbons … now there’s the difficult part. We still haven’t found ribbons that quite fit well enough to use our beloved Luddite office equipment.

  • What a beautiful typewriter! I have a white Olympia, too (though mine’s from the 1970s), and it’s a really good machine. You might like to find a copy of “The Story of My Typewriter,” by Paul Auster, whose Olympia looks similar to yours.

    One place I like to go for typewriter ribbons & accoutrements is the Vintage Typewriter Shoppe online. The owner has designed typewriter covers (people use vintage typewriters as decoration, but if you’re interested in keeping it workable, it’s important to protect it from dust) and a typewriter pad made of thick felt & rubber, which keeps your typewriter from migrating across the table as you write. :)

    To second Hani’s comment about the platen: It’s a good idea to always use two sheets of paper in the machine at a time. The front sheet is what you type on, and the second sheet absorbs the shock of the impressions, especially from the pointed punctuation marks, which can otherwise tear through just a single sheet and possibly puncture the platen.

    Have so much fun with your new machine! I think you made a great choice!

  • I just told my husband last week that we had better stash the Royal Quiet Deluxe we bought at a yard sale for $5 for our 3 year old because the prices for these things are astonishing!

  • I think the trendy part is buying a typewriter to display it and never use it! Typewriters are meant to be typed on. I use mine constantly for work (I work in display) and for making cards, tags, etc. What I’m looking for now is a typewriter with a script font that doesn’t cost a million bucks. The ones at the Brooklyn flea are so pricey! That’s another unfortunate side effect of a trend: rising prices!

  • I did the same thing — I’d resisted buying one because everyone was buying them, but when I saw one at a Massachusetts antiques shop for $35 I could not pass it up. I love it.

  • Wow I bought the same typewriter at my local goodwill. Also a Smith Corona but in the color blue and I only paid $6! I didn’t know they were selling for up in the $200-300’s like that. Wow! Love the pink one you purchased!

  • lol… you aren’t the only one behind on the trend. I’ve always wanted one but could never justify the shipping prices. Even if I found one on etsy for a decent price, because I live halfway across the globe from most of these sellers, the shipping would cost more than the machine. But thanks to my dear friend who recently moved to New York and flew back here for a holiday, I now have one of these beauties. A Royal Futura 800 to be exact. Waiting for a new ribbon before I can type my fair share of love letters.

  • Holy! I have that exact pink royal typewriter. I got it at a junk store for $5. I had mo idea I was sitting on a goldmine. Wow!

  • Wow loving that pink one. I have one very similar to that Olympia one…and a blue one…I never use them but dream that one day i’ll track down some ribbon so that they actually work and sit down and write a letter like a grown up…in the 60s.

  • Can you say “rip-off”? I have this type-writer’s twin in robin’s egg blue…I got it for $15 at a thrift store. I think like so many things on Etsy they’re waiting for someone with more money than sense.

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