31 december 2022

Typewriters of 2022: an overview

In the end of 2021, I owned 3 typewriters. I was more into wristwatches than typewriters at the time. This year, however, I didn't buy any wrist watches, as I am still happy with the Seiko Marinemaster SBDX017 I've bought in 2018 and has been my daily watch ever since. Only during a few weeks this year I've changed to my vintage Seiko 6138-8030 (JPS) and the Pulsar LED Calculator, which surprisingly became alive again, after I discovered I put the batteries upside down. 

The only watch I really want (but didn't buy) is a vintage Rolex Day Date 18078, with bark finish. There are two problems; one is the price, and the other problem is that I don't think I would dare to wear it. I don't have the right amount of mafia vibe around me and I would only worry to damage it.

So, what did I do this year regarding typewriters? As I wrote, starting 2022 I owned 3 antique typewriters: I already had my very early Hammond 2 (Dutch delivered), the earliest Remington Portable 1 (NC00062) and a gold plated Princess Praesent. During the year, I sold the gold Princess, and bought 11 different typewriters instead. Let's see, dear imaginary readers, what I bought and sold last year.

Perfected Type Writer No. 2 #2518

Perfected Type Writer No. 2 and Caligraph 2

Let's go through them chronologically. In March, I went to Köln (Germany) to the Breker Auction, where the typewriter collection of Jim Rauen was auctioned. I managed to pick up a Perfected Typewriter No. 2. Quite a score, and last month I dedicated a blogpost about it. This was the typewriter that gave me most fun researching, because so little is known about this successor to the Sholes and Glidden. Michael Adler called it "a connoisseurs instrument" in his book. In the same auction lot I got a Caligraph 2, which I sold locally to another collector. 
Caligraph 2 #18514

Blickensderfer 5, 7 and 8.

Two months later, in May, there was another Breker Auction of the Rauen collection. This time I didn't go to Köln, but instead bid online on a lot with three Blickensderfers. The one that caught my eye was a very early Blickensderfer 5 (#2878). The hammer price was 300 euro, on top of which I had to pay 85 euro commission costs and 100 euro for packaging and shipment. The three typewriters arrived fast and in good order, so I think it was a pretty good deal. I sold the Blickensderfer 8 and 7 to a befriended collector, and only kept the early Blickensderfer 5. I'll probably write a separate blogpost about this machine in the future.
Blickensderfer 5, 7 and 8. (picture of Breker Auctions)

Wagner Underwood 1

In June I saw a Wagner Underwood 1 in a local online advertisement. I have owned several Wagner-Underwoods before. My theory is that these very old typewriters were shipped from the USA to the Netherlands right after the war (in the late 1940's) when there was a lack of typewriters here. I have found several Wagner-Underwoods here with dealer stickers from after the war, meaning that they were sold and used up to 60 or 70 years after being manufactured. 

This particular Wagner Underwood 1 looked odd to me. The frame below the space bar was different from normal Wagner Underwoods. So I quickly made a deal and drove two hours straight to get the machine. I paid 50 euros and hoped to see a very early serial number. Maybe it was some kind of prototype? When I wiped off the dust to read the serial number, my hearth skipped a beat: #122. Oh my. I texted some fellow collectors about this Major Find and - over the moon - drove back home. Once home I gave it a proper inspection and found out I missed a digit under the dust; the serial wasn't #122, but #5122. The weirdest part about this story is that exactly the same happened to me 10 years ago with an Underwood 5.
Wagner Underwood 1 #5122

This Wagner Underwood was in the same family for decades, in the small beautiful town called Beesel (Limburg, The Netherlands). According to the seller, it was probably used in the local pharmacy before it became the families home typewriter until well into the 1970's. The seller recalled using it as a child. The strange frame wasn't because this specimen was insanely early and still in prototype development; it probably was just an early (and very well done) repairment of the frame. 

Okay, that was kind of a disappointment, but only because I had my hopes up too high. It's still a Wagner Underwood 1 of course.

Adler Model 9

Next up is the rarest find in my collecting career. It's quite a story.

In July I received an automated email alert that a local Dutch auction house put a handful of typewriters up for auction. I scrolled through the typewriters and saw nothing special: an Adler, a Folding Corona, some standard machines, nothing special. Although, that Adler... that looked odd. Hadn't seen it before, or did I? The advertisement on the auction site didn't specify the model number, but on the decal visible on one of the photos it said "model 9". In the back of my head, I knew there was one special Adler to keep an eye for. I didn't remember anymore which model it was, nor how it looked like. Was it this model 9? So, I started searching online, but couldn't find anything. Hmmm, this thing must be rare.

I looked into my German collectors magazines and after one hour I found an article about the Adler model 9 in a magazine from 2012. My gut feeling was right. This article was written right after one specimen was found and sold on Ebay for a staggering 9600 euro! I must have read it at the time. Okay, so this was special, but I didn't have it yet. It was to be auctioned online, and it wouldn't be strange if another collector would find out about it. I had to be honest with myself, this wasn't the typewriter I had always dreamt of (like a Crandall, a Sholes & Glidden, a Fitch, an Oliver 1 or a Norths). I would only buy it if it stayed under the radar and sell it for a profit.

In the weeks before the auction date I did some more research. I learned that in the 1970's, there was only one specimen of the Adler Model 9 known, which let collectors to believe it was a prototype; a more advanced version of the common model 7. In the years to follow, a handful more specimens were discovered, but all with a serial number within a range of 100, which probably meant that no more than 100 specimens left the factory. 

The Adler 9 is essentially the same machine as an Adler 7, but with a different frame and some extra functions. Not very exciting to me. I also read in a different article in the German typewriter collectors magazine that a German top collector considered his Adler 9 as his favorite machine, because he had to fight for 10 years before he could finally acquire one. And mind you, he also owned a Malling Hansen!

The night of the auction, we started low, at 50 euros. I bid patiently as I didn't want to warn anyone that this was a Special Typewriter. There was one other bidder though, and he didn't want to let go. With each new bid, the time left was increased by 2 minutes. We spend 40 minutes or so bidding against each other. How much did my competitor know? Did he know this was an extremely rare and desirable machine? Should I increase my bids faster? We reached 300 euros. I bid 350. He bid 360, I increased to 400. I bid fast, he waited every time till the last seconds. He bid 410. I raised to 450. And than there was nothing... He let go, he desisted. It was mine!

A few days later I received the Adler 9. Indeed, it wasn't in good condition and very dirty, but it seemed complete. It was painted over the side panels, but the decals were still untouched. I contacted some collectors who I knew owned a model 9 and asked for some information. One of them could tell me the location of the serial number. The serial number was #35017, which makes it one of the earliest known model 9's. The same collector also asked me to inform him in case I would put it up for sale.

Adler model 9 #35017

After a few weeks, I decided for good that I didn't want to keep it. I bought it for trading in the first place, I did some research about this model, enjoyed it, and that's it. It had to go. I put an ad in the German typewriter collectors magazine and informed the fellow collector that I put it up for sale. I decided to ask the same amount as the last sell of an Adler 9 in 2012. Okay, said the fellow collector. Just let me know your banking details. He instantly agreed on the asking price. 

In the days after this, I received quite a lot of mails and calls from other collectors asking about the Adler 9. One of them didn't understand why I was selling it. He said: you collect typewriters, right? Why do you sell such a special machine? He has a point, but it's a lot of money and I would rather use the money to buy a typewriter I really desire (or a Rolex Day Date). But at the moment, I can't justify (to myself) spending so much money on luxury or hobby. 

Hermes 3000 (2 typewriters)

In October I bought a Hermes 3000. The one with the curves. It was listed online in Utrecht (where I live), so I cycled to the city center and took it with me for 55 euro. These typewriters go for crazy money lately, mainly because some famous director used it to write his movies. This specimen was in bad condition because someone lost the key of the case and opened it by brute force. The typewriter was bent in many places, but still typed like a charm. I liked typing on it as it has an attractive techno font. It is also the only typewriter I let my children play on. Especially setting the margins is great fun.
Hermes 3000 #3081025

One month later, I went to Köln again, for the November Breker auction. My main mission was to complete the Adler 9 transaction, by handing over the machine to the buyer just before the start of the auction. I was happy I could finally close the transaction and stop worrying about having to take care of such an expensive machine at home. I played with the thought of using the money to bid one of the Sholes and Gliddens in the Breker Auction, but again: I couldn't. I guess I didn't want one bad enough.

After the auction I went to the traditional collectors meeting at the Decksteiner Tennis Club. I said hi to some friends there and one of them had a pristine Hermes 3000 for sale. Well, I knew by now I liked that machine, so I decided to buy it. He asked 165 euro, mainly because it had a special feature: it was able to type with extra symbols, using a system called Typit. We agreed on 150 euros, and I took it home. Here you see me using the typit system, it's quite ingenious and simple at the same time.

Oliver 8

One of the most beautiful antique typewriters is the Oliver. In the past I had a very early Oliver 3, an Oliver 15 with a crazy large carriage and a quite rare Oliver Monopol Stolzenberg (3). I will definitely once own an Oliver 1 (yeah, dream on) or early 2, but till that time I figured I could buy a more accessible model. In December, I found an online advertisement for an Oliver 8. In case you don't know, this is the very rare export version of the Oliver 7. The ad was online for over two months and the typewriter still wasn't sold. Maybe because the seller asked 275 euros. I negotiated it down to 175 and drove to a village near Rotterdam to get it. 

It was in decent shape, but I had to repair the mainspring. It was - fortunately - an easy and satisfying fix. I cleaned it and now it works like a charm. According to Oliver specialist Jett Morton, only 800 were made, and only 10 surviving specimens are known nowadays. It's a nice and pretty machine, in good condition and quite rare. What makes it even cooler is that it has a dealer sticker of F.W. Salomons, in Amsterdam. Here is a picture from 1913 of his office at the time. The second gentleman on the left is writing on an Oliver. Another machine is hidden away. On the window you can see the Oliver brand name.  

Interior of Import Agent F.W. Salomons, The Oliver Typewriter Co. Amsterdam
Source: Stadsarchief Amsterdam. Can you spot the 2nd Oliver?

It seems I am all back into typewriters again. I really enjoyed searching for rare machines and trying to find info about them. This has been a good collecting year, with a Perfected Typewriter No. 2, a Wagner Underwood 1, an Adler 9, an early Blickensderfer 5 and an Oliver 8. Which one did you like most? Have a happy new year!

4 opmerkingen:

Richard P zei

This was really an exciting year you had! I would be most curious about the Adler 9, as I have never had a chance to look into it. Wishing you another great year in 2023.

schrijfmachine zei

Thanks Richard, the same to you!

RobertG zei

Congrats on quite the typewriter expansion in '22!

That Underwood I think I spotted on MP - the nickelled ruler caught my attention when it got listed. Very glad it got recognised and hasn't ended up as an art-project or 'upcycled' into a lamp-stand!

Definitely the favorite, that one - precursor of the classic archetype.

Here up North also had a lucky find in '22 of a Standard Folding - not in the same league as the Adler 9 or Underwood 1, but my rarest find yet :)

schrijfmachine zei

Thanks! I have never seen a Standard Folding in the Netherlands. Great find, congrats. The wrinckle paint expands the history of the object, but it is not very pretty ;)