Photo safari

by | Apr 7, 2013 | safari | 12 comments

Spring is here, and it’s a good season for typewriter hunting. Here are some photo trophies from today’s expedition. No guessing game this time: I didn’t take home a single one. But I was still pleasantly impressed with the number of typewriters on offer, and many prices were in the reasonable range. I didn’t take notes on the prices, so these are according to my best recollection, sometimes assisted by the tag in the photo.
First I returned to the Ohio Valley Antique Mall. There has been a good bit of turnover in the typewriters since my last visit, in mid-February.
First, here’s a shiny Underwood Noiseless 77! But with some obvious problems, the $135 price is not a good deal.
A pre-war Smith-Corona Zephyr is a pretty neat find. But as usual, its khaki wrinkle paint is grungy and very unappealing, and one ribbon cover is missing. (I learned that these covers are hinged on the outer side, so it’s not that easy to yank one off, but apparently that’s what happened.) 50 bucks.
A pretty decent Royal KMM, working fine, for $42. It would need some cleaning and de-rusting. By the way, a similar gray KMM that I saw here last time is still around, but the price has jumped from $22 to $60.
Nice, clean Royal QDL for 40-some dollars. You can see its family resemblance to its daddy above. This could make a good portable for someone at a fair price.
This flattop Corona Standard was kind of grungy. $74.99, I believe.
Here’s a slightly later Royal portable, an Aristocrat, again for $40 or so.
Next I headed down the highway to the village of Ross, Ohio, to the mysteriously named Venice Pavilion antique mall. A student had tipped me off that there were some typewriters here, although he said there was nothing that looked unusual.
The first typewriter I found here was the deal of the day: a Smith-Corona Sterling, from just before they introduced the beefier body style, for only $25. A good deal, objectively speaking. Still, I didn’t feel my heartstrings tug. It would need repainting to have a good chance of selling at WordPlay. Maybe I should have gone for it, but I let it slide.
They wanted $40 or so for this Smith-Corona Electra with the detached spacebar. No thanks, even if the rounded blue plastic body has a certain appeal. This machine uses the same, simple ultraportable mechanism used by its ancestor, the Zephyr you can see above.
This corner of the mall had some adding machines and sewing machines, including a pretty Challenge. (Hi, Adwoa!)
Another Underwood Noiseless 77, this time with the postwar crinkle finish, reduced to $75 from $90.
With the Underwood Noiseless was this paperwork, including a very interesting tag with unpacking instructions. I recommend enlarging this pic. I’ve never seen the tag before; it tells us how these machines came shipped from the factory, and thus also provides suggestions for those of us who want to ship them super-safely today.
This ’60s Underwood Five ($45) had a typebar jammed so tightly into the type guide that I could not set it free. Good luck selling this one.
Finally, a “real” Underwood No. 5, circa 1920s, for $130. It typed pretty well, so I typed a pangram and “typosphere.net” on it. Maybe this will be the beginning of a new typospherian!
On the road from Ross to Miamitown there’s a nice little wooden roller coaster.
Miamitown used to have several good antique shops, but they’ve dried up. Still, I enjoyed peeking through the window of a photography studio to find this noble old camera.
Hope you enjoyed the photo safari. Happy hunting, everyone!


  1. Vikram

    My favorite typewriter in this set has to be the flattop Corona; that bellows camera took the cake, though! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Ton S.

    Nice sightings. I agree, the SC Electra has a certain appeal.

  3. notagain

    Those prices all seem high to me. I think they are on to you.

  4. Anonymous

    Uncanny – we both spotted a Royal Aristocrat and a Sterling too, within hours! But did you see any bald eagles?

  5. Ted

    Nice selection, but at prices way too high. I think I would have gone for the '49 QDL at $40. that would have been worth it. Maybe even the Speedline at @25. Tough to clean 'em up and turn any sort of profit, though.

  6. Adwoa

    Loved the photo safari! Preparing one of my own to post at the moment, so this was great timing. Lots of very nice sightings, too, although that first Noiseless made me cringe. And thanks for sharing the sewing machine sighting!

  7. Scott K

    Those large format cameras are still in use. Nothing quite beats the quality of image that comes from it.

    That SC sterling would have been snapped up by me in a flash! No hesitations.

  8. Bill M

    Nice group of typewriters. Except for the QDL I agree that the prices are high.

    The camera is neat. I still use a large format wooden field camera myself. That one looks like it's an 8 x 10.

  9. Rob Bowker

    agree with Ted, I'd have sprung for th QDL at that price and with those keys. That's just how it is with the smaller collector :-)

  10. Dwayne F.

    I'm glad your hunting expedition was entertaining. The Noiseless 77 ephemera is especially interesting.

  11. shordzi

    Thanks for the tour, excellent impression really. Stiff prices up there. Always interesting to see that on the other side of the ocean, the typewriter range is 90% different from the average European street sightings.

  12. Richard P

    Some of the prices are definitely too high, but I don't think most are. Most of them are about what you'd expect to pay on eBay, especially if you include shipping. Of course, at a thrift store most of these machines would be much cheaper, but maybe that's becoming a thing of the past.


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