Antique Typewriter Value and Collection Guide

In today’s world, laptops, desktop computers, and smartphones are used for correspondence and preparing documents. However, it was not too long ago that typewriters were prized assets, as they existed as the most efficient word-processing machine.

Today, antique typewriters are highly valued due to the rich history that they represent, their rarity, and their mechanics. This article will tell you all that you need to know about antique typewriter value and serve as a collection guide.

Antique 1920s Underwood Standard Typewriter No 5 DisplayRestoration
Antique 1920s Underwood Standard Typewriter No 5 DisplayRestoration

What Is An Antique Typewriter?

Simply put, an antique typewriter is a typewriter that is 100 years old or more. For a typewriter to be regarded as antique, it must have been manufactured earlier than 1920.

The typewriter is a human innovation with one of the richest histories. A good number of people have their names linked to the invention of the typewriter. As early as the 1500s, Francesco Rampazetto, an Italian printmaker was created the scittura tattile.

This machine which was used to impress letters on paper served as the blueprint for the modern typewriter of today. Over the years, a lot of men were said to have created the first typewriter. Some of them include Henry Mill, Agostino Fantoni, Pelligrino Turri and Pietro Conti di Cilavegna. The first commercial typewriter was however produced in the 1870s.

The Difference Between Antique Typewriter And Vintage Typewriter

Although the terms are used interchangeably, an antique typewriter is not the same as a vintage typewriter. Antique typewriters have existed for at least 100 years; manufactured before 1920.

Vintage typewriters on the other hand are old typewriters that were manufactured after 1920. Typically, the timeline for vintage typewriters is usually from 1920 to the early 1980s.

While vintage typewriters are also valuable, they are not the prized assets that antique typewriters are. As such, you must be sure to find out the date that a typewriter was manufactured, before you collect it.

How To Identify An Antique Typewriter

While antique typewriters are known to have strange shapes and figures, identifying them might not be so straightforward. This is why it is best to make use of the serial number when determining the age of a typewriter.

If you have a typewriter that has a keyboard style that looks outdated, check out the serial number to figure out the age of the keyboard. For antique keyboards, you might want to get your flashlight if you intend to find the serial number quickly. The serial number could be located in different areas of the typewriter, depending on the manufacturer.

Antique 1890s BLICKENSDERFER Portable Typewriter NO 7
Antique 1890s BLICKENSDERFER Portable Typewriter NO 7
1937 ROYAL KHM TYPEWRITER STANDARD MANUAL SERIAL
1937 ROYAL KHM TYPEWRITER STANDARD MANUAL SERIAL
Rare 1909 ALUMINUM BLICKENSDERFER No.5 TYPEWRITER
Rare 1909 ALUMINUM BLICKENSDERFER No.5 TYPEWRITER
Antique 1920s Underwood Standard Typewriter
Antique 1920s Underwood Standard Typewriter

Lift the ribbon cover of the typewriter and check the inner frame. You should also move the carriage to the right, and examine the area exposed closely. If you do not find the serial number in any of these areas, you can check the bottom of the typewriter.

The serial number could also be around the slotted segment. A thorough examination will ensure that you find the serial number. With the serial number, you can date your typewriter using the help of ‘The Typewriter Database’. It is a website that has data on different antique typewriter brand types.

Different Antique Typewriter Brands And Their Estimated Value

There are a good number of typewriter brands if you are looking to get an antique typewriter. Below are different antique typewriter brands to consider with information on their values.

Oliver Typewriter Value

The Oliver Typewriter Co - Print type No. 9 - Military Green ANTIQUE
Source: Ebay.com The Oliver Typewriter Co – Print type No. 9 – Military Green ANTIQUE

Oliver Typewriter Company was one of the earliest manufacturers of typewriters. The oldest Oliver typewriters are dated as far back as 1895. As an American company, they carried out their operations in Chicago, Illinois.

The early Oliver typewriters were quite unique as they were downstrikers. This means that the typebars hit the paper from above. This is unlike most modern typewriters which hit the paper from below; known as upstrikers.

Due to their unique structure, Oliver typewriters is a choice antique typewriter for many collectors. Antique Oliver typewriters usually go for as much as $125.

Corona Typewriters Value

Antique 1915 Corona Model 3 Folding Vintage Typewriter
Source: Ebay.com Antique 1915 Corona Model 3 Folding Vintage Typewriter

Starting out in 1903, Corona typewriters were famed for their elaborate designs. One of the most popular typewriters from this manufacturer is the Corona 3 typewriter. The Corona 3 had a unique quality at the time, it could fold into smaller size portability. Antique Corona typewriters are sold between $100 to $150.

Royal Typewriters Value

1934 Royal Model A Typewriter Red
Source: Ebay.com 1934 Royal Model A Typewriter Red

Royal typewriters are among the most popular antique typewriters around. With the Royal Typewriter Company starting operations around 1903, a lot of Royal typewriters were produced.

Royal typewriters were the first choice for journalists and writers due to their sturdiness, ease of usage as well as the absence of jamming troubles. Due to the large volume of Royal typewriters produced, antique versions are relatively easy to come by. You can therefore get an antique Royal typewriter for $100 or less.

Underwood Typewriters Value

1936 Underwood Universal Portable Typewriter
Source: Ebay.com 1936 Underwood Universal Portable Typewriter

Formerly known as the Wagner Typewriter Company, the name was changed when the company was taken over by John Underwood. Underwood typewriters are among the most valued antique typewriters. The oldest antique Underwood typewriters sell for as much as $1000.

Other popular typewriter brands that produced the most valuable antique brands today include Remington Typewriter Company and Woodstock Typewriter Company.

Factors That Affect The Value Of An Antique Typewriter

There are certain factors that determine how valuable an antique typewriter is.

These factors are highlighted and discussed below.

Fonts

fonts on a typewriter

The fonts on a typewriter can help to take their value up. Today, most typewriters come in standard fonts, thereby making special fonts, a thing of old. As a result of this, a lot of typewriter collectors look out for typewriters with special fonts, when purchasing antique fonts.

These typewriters thereby have an increased value due to their rarity and the competition for them. Two font types stand out as the most in-demand special fonts for antique typewriters. These are “vogue” font, as well as cursive fonts.

The State Of The Typewriter

The condition in which a typewriter is purchased also has a bearing on its value. Typewriters that are very neat, without paint scratches, metal pitting or even worn labels are always sold at a high price.

Apart from its outward appearance, the mechanics of the typewriter also greatly determines how much value it has.

An antique typewriter that still functions in perfect condition will go for a higher price than one that is faulty or non-functional. A refurbished typewriter also retains most of its value, as it gets back to top condition.

The Type Of Repair Required

The typewriter is a unique antique item, in the sense that repairs do not necessarily affect its value.

Antique typewriters can be repaired, refurbished, and even fitted with new parts. As a result, it does not matter sometimes if the typewriter is broken or rusty, as long as it can be brought back to prime condition.

When it comes to repairs, collectors can purchase the typewriter at a bargain price, and then secure an increased value for it after the repairs are carried out. The most important thing to do is to figure out if the typewriter can be repaired successfully.

Also, the cost of repairs should not be higher than expected, in the long run.

Origin

The origin of an antique typewriter could also affect its value.

As a matter of fact, European-made antique typewriters are usually more valuable than locally made typewriters in the United States of America. The reason for this is the difference in design, as well as rarity and the exclusivity that whoever purchases them enjoys.

Design

The design of the typewriter is another factor that determines its value. Due to the recency of the product at the time, a lot of designs were experimented with.

This led to the production of a lot of typewriters with unique features. Antique typewriters with such features are hard to come by today, making them highly valuable. These features range from fancy inlay work to brass-plated casings.

Portability

The smaller the antique typewriter, the higher its value. A large typewriter is not desirable due to its heaviness.

Things To Look Out For When Collecting An Antique Typewriter

If you are like Tom Hanks, and you enjoy collecting antique typewriters, there are certain things to look out for.

  • Extensive Rust: This indicates weakened metal and your typewriter might get broken in no time.
  • The decals should be neat and readable.
  • Ensure that the mechanics of the typewriter is in perfect condition. Examine the return arm, keys, bell, and roller.

Final Thoughts

Antique typewriters come with a lot of value. They are products of many years ago that will be useful for you in your day-to-day life.

You must therefore not settle for just any antique typewriter. Be sure to confirm the age of the typewriter first. Proceed to check its important components to confirm that it is in good condition. Follow all the other tips listed above, and you can be sure to find the perfect antique typewriter for you in no time.

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