A case study in mutation

by | Sep 22, 2013 | fakes | 22 comments

From Gourland to Govrland to Governor’s Land:


There is now a second generation of fake typewriters which
apparently copy the copies instead of the originals.

The process is like a game of “telephone,” or like the evolution of coins in the ancient

world from Greek and Roman originals to bizarrely distorted barbarian copies — a sequence
that I’ve always found disturbing, as if a hallucination were taking over the
world and losing all contact with reality.



  1. Ton S.

    Governor's Land? Good grief. God forbid that Olivetti mutate to "Olive's Spaghetti" typewriter!

  2. Piotr Trumpiel

    The ugliness of the second copy is terrifying. I want to believe that the ability to recognize quality exist in all people on a basic level so they can recognize the blatant distortion of the real thing. And in hundred years the real thing will still be there – though we'll all be just shadows and dust…

  3. Bill M

    I sure hope the originals prevail for future generations and centuries.

  4. Robert Messenger

    Things have become so bad in Australia that daily updates of eBay typewriter listings are dominated by these abominations. What is even more offensive is the prices being asked (usually way over $100). I try to console myself that anyone who simply wants a typewriter as a "decoration" will buy one of these instead of the real thing. But I do believe buyers will be fooled.
    A very popular and very highly priced item in antique shops here are the mock large-brass-horned wind-up gramophones, which were made recently in India. No attempt is ever made to point out that these are not genuine antiques, but cleverly made, convincing imitations.

  5. Richard P

    Ah yes, I see a "Governor's Land" here, and other such items too. They all seemed to be described as "decoration model" or the like, so I hope no one is fooled.

  6. Adwoa

    Typewriter simulacra! Goodness, these are just awful. I wouldn't mind so much if they served some other purpose too – the vents on either side of the Governor's Land seem to indicate the presence of a radio, but I suppose that is just wishful thinking. They haven't shown up around here for the time being – well, except those gaudy children's toys that could in no way (at least I hope!) be mistaken for the real thing.

  7. Mark Adams

    To the untrained eye, these typewriters might be very convincing. I recall reading a description for one of these over and over to figure out what was being sold. The "new" in the listing was about the only clarifying note. Personally, I'd find these decorations acceptable if they were sold at Wal-Mart for $5.95.

  8. RobertG

    That is new to me! Weird keyboard on that Govrland – it seems to come from a land with a language without 'p' and much 'q'. :-)

    (The fake gramophones are very common here as well, recognizable by sloppy soundbox and gaudy base. Issue with these is that they will likely eat-up any old record somebody tries to play on them.)

  9. Anonymous

    Fakes like this are a sure sign that an object has become a 'collectible'. In the world of stamps there are fakes which people collect as collectible fakes, and then fakes of those fakes.

    GOURLAND to GOVRLAND has a sort of classical Latin legitimacy but I expect someone with half an understanding of English saw this and decided that GOVR was an abbreviation of GOVERNOR.

  10. Miguel Chávez

    As props, or paper weights, those fake typewriters look acceptable, and if there's something good about them, in my opinion, is that they free some real machines from becoming mere decorative items… but I do see the parallel with the ancient coins. Someone copying the copy, sometimes adding his/her own personal touches, or abbreviating the "unnecessary" details… in the end they'll produce a crude ceramic block with a few circles on it to pass for the keyboard.

  11. notagain

    hahahahaha I now feel compelled to so label a Chinese knockoff!

  12. notagain

    I wonder who'll be first to find the sought-after "Leon Spinks" typewriter?

  13. shordzi

    Thank you for your pertinent study in mutation. Very interesting, and very amusing!
    On a more serious note, and as it is popular to spray, pimp and modify typewriters in the typosphere, this is my call to all typospherians to mark their modified typewriters, for example with a little sticker saying "XY pinxit 2013" "XY changed the label of this typewriter in 2013" or something alike which will allow future owners to distinguish the original from the modified part, and more largely, this is the only way to avoid that fake originals are mistaken for originals and falsy enter typewriter typologies. Ok, warned enough.

  14. shordzi

    oh, your new background: is is Slovenian? very nice.

  15. Richard P

    That's a very good point. Otherwise creations such as my Purple Prose Producer (pictured above) may be mistaken for original factory machines when they are dug out of the radioactive rubble in the year 2222.

  16. Richard P

    That is one of the more convincing ones. It could fool a poorly-informed buyer.

  17. Richard P

    Ha ha, I love the name: Bugli Ken Sfeir!

  18. Mark Adams

    I thought you would get a kick out of that.

  19. Unknown

    Hi Richard,

    i love the stories you write and the way you present them. Please stay in touch. I recently started a blog.
    Please let me know what you think.


    D. Plante



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