In the interest of full disclosure, if someone were to offer me $8,000 for my Dayton Portable Typewriter, I’d take that offer in an instant. But it’s not going to happen. Despite being old and “rare,” there are practical limits to how much a typewriter is worth. Only some sellers don’t realize this.
Lately, I e-mailed an Etsy seller asking him why he was offering a Remington 3B typewriter for $1,500. Obviously, the 3B is rare, but $1,500 rare? I acquired mine — with fiber case — for around $200, which is at the high end of what I would pay for most any machine. The highest sale price I’ve seen for a 3B is about $400. In short, $1,500 is too much.
That said, an eBay seller did recently auction a Brother De Luxe for $620. Why anyone would pay that much for a Brother — of any vintage — I cannot say, but that auction was the exception. Most typewriters are not so rare as to command just any price. There are limits.
A sampling of overvalued machines…
This one recently appeared on eBay. $6,200? I’ve seen folding Standards sell for $500, but also a lot less. Incredibly, the eBay seller writes, “Missing spring and pull spring. Other than that everything is there.”
Update (6/6/14): Item listing ended; re-listed at a starting bid price of $250 (see here). Still seems high, given its condition.
The most expensively priced machine on eBay right now is this Sholes & Glidden typewriter, which is difficult to value. The Sholes & Glidden is, after all, the most historically significant machine in typewriter history. I do recall, though, that a similar model garnered around $15,000 about a year or so ago, so I wonder if this one is really worth nearly $30,000.
Update: Auction closed, but item re-listed. Not sure why.
On May 27, the winning bid on this machine was $810, but it was re-listed shortly afterwards for $1,250. I messaged the seller who replied that the buyer in the first auction turned out to be a “deadbeat,” but the seller provided no details. Did the buyer retract his/her bid? Whatever the case, if the highest bid was $810 the first time, $1,250 is steep.
A professionally refurbished machine is especially difficult to assess. There is, after all, a considerable difference between an $80 paper weight and a $1,000 writing machine. The Antikey Chop (listed on eBay and Etsy) does regular business, marketing fully restored machines (including the platen). Still, one cannot but flinch at $1,049 for an L.C. Smith.
NB: If you are looking for a working typewriter, you may well want to consider a refurbished machine, especially considering that restoration can be expensive.
Even the buyer lists this auction as a “MISTAKE.” At $1,299.99, that’s one heck of a mistake!
A Royal of this vintage is just not worth $429, and I’ve seen this machine eBay for over a year. I keep wondering when the seller will realize that $400+ for this machine is too much.
If this machine sells for $1,500, I will part with mine. No mention is made whether it comes with a leather or fiber case. Mine includes the fiber (cardboard) case. Just noting.
I’m not sure how many American buyers are eager to buy a typewriter with a Belgium keyboard, but at $1,700, I doubt there is even one. Royals of this vintage are common — I got mine for around $200. Of course, if you want a Belgium keyboard, you’ll have to pay more.
This final example illustrates how typewriters are sometimes priced. The seller, an antique dealer in Sebastopol, California, notices that the Remington No. 2 is listed on MyTypewriter.com for $1,695. He then halves (almost) the price. The problem is that I’ve never seen a No. 2, despite being very desirable, sell for more than $400 or $500.
A final word…
If any one of these machines gets its asking price, people will probably wonder if I’ll eat my words. No. I’ll simply sell my collection!
© 2014, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.