Vintage Heavy Metal

Vintage Metal: what separates a Hunk of Junk from a usable, collectable work of art? In my first Vintage Seven post, I wrote that the Wiki definition of Antique is something that is “80-100 years showing some degree of Craftsmanship.” I would totally agree and add that this principle should apply to any thing that we buy, but especially vintage and antique items.

In our times, things are just not made to last, but in times not that long ago, ‘Craftsmanship’ was the only way to sell your wares.

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This Royal Sprite portable from the 1970s is my latest typewriter. I bought it, replaced the tattered old ribbon with a fresh new one, and cleaned it up a bit. My wife and I would love to keep this model if it does not sell, and I have been able to put it to work typing for some of my artwork!

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This vintage 80’s typewriter was actually the first typewriter I sold on Etsy. This typewriter sold for $90 including S&H which was less than you might find other typewriters selling for on Etsy, but considering it was a newer plastic model I thought that price was reasonable. You might be like some typewriter haters; and think, “Don’t you weirdos know the rest of the world has moved on to smart phones and computers!” Often the draw of typewriters and vintage electronics is the inspiration and nostalgia that these items can conger! The clickety, clack of the keys; the ringing of the bell; the look of the impression that the typewriters makes with each strike has a way of awaking my inner artist. I think that for some writers who still use typewriters, it is for the simple reason that with a typewriter you cannot just hold down the delete key on sentences that don’t cut it. Thus every sentence, every single word, becomes important and not trivial.

Though typewriters are heavy and to some obsolete, they will always hold a special place in my heart because they embody the craftsmanship of a bygone era. I have rarely found a typewriter at a vintage store, antique store, or thrift store that with a little TLC would not return to its former glory. That cannot be said of any of our modern technology. I think that Apple comes closest of any of the modern tech companies to embodying the concept of good craftsmanship wins out, but even Apple’s products show age after a couple years and lose that cool factor whenever the ‘NEW’ one comes out.

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This mid 60s Olympia SM 8 with a little tune up ran like new and was an easy sell at $100 including S&H. Often I sell typewriters for a little cheaper than you might find other places, but I always use the principles that I have discussed in a previous Vintage Seven post: Only buy typewriters that you would want to own, fixer uppers are ok, but don’t buy typewriters that are out of your league(I’ll explain that more later). Finally, when looking for vintage typewriter or vintage goods in general, it is good to look for color, quality, and decor. Color is the unique color schemes that embody that decade: The Olympia SM8 was cream and mint, a time machine back to the 1950-and early 60s. Often unique color schemes, especially pink typewriters, bring big bucks, so keep your eyes out for unique color schemes, strange fonts, or unusual keyboard layouts. Quality or craftsmanship matters tremendously with typewriters and though I have not found many ‘manual’ typewriters that are lower quality, some of the older ones (turn of the century-1930s) tend to cease up a bit and lack the fluid motion that came with better manufacturing process.

Another Typewriter gem is the Lambert typewriter made between 1902-1904 that was created to type short notes or labels and was intended to be a cheap alternative to the traditional unit. Lambert only sold around 8,000. And though I have never had the privilege of finding one myself I first saw it on the reality show Auction Kings and just had to include it in my post! Could you imagine trying to type on a round keyboard? The Lambert typewriter almost looks like a Steam punk piece to me. On Auction Kings, the expert said it was worth around $500 and they sold it for $175 (which I think is a steal!).

Last, but certainly not least, is decor.

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This vintage space heater is not a typewriter, I know, but it is a good example of that vintage decor that I mentioned. The base had a cool aerodynamic design that was popular from the 1920s through the 1950s. I sold this piece for $37.

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When you’re looking for interesting items, sometimes you just have to bight the bullet and take a chance like I did with this 1980s Wave phone. I bought the wave phone without knowing if it worked or not, but the price was right and with such a unique fun design, I had to take the chance. My gamble was well worth it. The phone works and if it does not sell I am going to use it, because I have not seen another one like it in all my picking!

Thanks for reading my post. Contact me and visit my etsy page.

daniel j dunlop

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