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Things to Look for When Buying a Vintage Typewriter

I’ve bought a fair number of vintage typewriters in the past and most weeks I’m purchasing another one or two for my collection or to refurbish and resale.  I’ve made some mistakes and thought I would share what I’ve learned.  Hopefully, you will find this information helpful. Buy in person when you can.  It’s always best to be able to inspect the typewriter in person.  It’s very helpful to be able to examine the machine for yourself without having to rely on a someone else’s description and photos to determine the condition of the machine. Check the carriage.  One of the first things I do when evaluating a typewriter is to move the carriage.  Does it advance when typing?  Is...

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An Interview with Richard Polt, Author of The Typewriter Revolution

I had the privilege of meeting Richard Polt several years ago at a type-in I helped organize (along with my friend, Brian Brumfield). Richard is well-known in the typosphere and has recently written a book that will be of interest to all typewriter enthusiasts, titled The Typewriter Revolution:  A Typist's Companion for the 21st Century. He graciously agreed to be interviewed about his new book and I am happy to share it with you.     Why did you write the book? I was surprised and excited to see people in the 21st century adopting typewriters, not as collectibles but as creative tools. There are lots of dimensions to this development—art, psychology, politics, education… but I wanted to see if I...

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Where to Buy Typewriter Ribbons for Manual Typewriters and the IBM Selectric

One of the most frequent questions I receive is "Can you still buy typewriter ribbon"? The answer is "Yes!".  We're very fortunate that typewriter ribbons continue to be manufactured and sold.  One can buy ribbons for most typewriters, everything from the Selectric I typewriter to vintage manual typewriters of all kinds. The next question often is, "Where can I buy a typewriter ribbon?".  I'm happy to report there are several good businesses that can ship a typewriter ribbon right to your door.  Let me name a few that I've had good experiences with. Baco Ribbon.  This is my go-to vendor for typewriter ribbons that I use and resell.  The customer service is outstanding and the ribbons are great.  Baco ribbons are...

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How to Care for a Typewriter

Like any machine, typewriters require a certain amount of maintenance and care to keep them performing well.  In the day when typing classes were common, students would learn how to care for a typewriter.  Since those days are long gone, I thought I would share a few tips on how to care for a typewriter. Always keep your typewriter covered when not in use.  Typewriters tend to collect dust which over time will create problems like sticking type bars.  Try to keep it covered as much as possible. Avoid liquid correction fluid.  Liquid correction fluid is messy and tends to drip on the platen and paper bail rollers.  Correction tape is a better option. Dust your machine regularly.  Take a...

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Why I think IBM Selectrics Are the Best Electric Typewriter Ever Made

If you know me, you know about my fondness for IBM Selectric typewriters.  I personally own several--everything from the Selectric I to the Selectric III.    Why do I think the Selectric is the best electric typewriter?  Let me give you a few reasons.  Feel free to add some more of your own.   IBM designed the Selectric to run 8 hours per day, every day.  It was designed and made for business use.  After all, there are thousands still in use today.  Small, inexpensive, personal electrics won't hold up to that kind of use and certainly don't last as long.  Many of the Selectrics manufactured in the 1960s (and 70s and 80s) are still being used today.  Can you say...

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