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How not to sell a typewriter

01 HNTSAT - No Machine

Ah, the pitfalls of selling a typewriter online! Some retailers just can’t get it right, and some are just downright vulgar. Here’s how not to sell a typewriter…

Key chop threat:

01 - HNTSAT Chop key threat

If there is a way to irk typospherians, making this kind of threat is one of them. I communicated my disdain to the eBay seller, politely, explaining how inappropriate it would be to chop the keys off such a beautiful machine, but that didn’t dissuade the seller. Such a shame.


01 HNTSAT - chopped keys

The seller of this Royal KMM wrote, “Looks like a disgruntled writer went bonkers on this one. For some reason all the key arms were bent and twisted when we got this. Have bent them back to somewhat correct position. Some key arm ends are damaged. Keys are also missing. So all in all, probably a great typewriter for parts or restoration since the rest of it is in fine shape for the vintage.” Unfortunately, another seller was simultaneously offering several lots of keys — including keys from Royal machines. Very nasty.


“Patina” alert!

01 HNTSAT - Rusty as heck

“This antique typewriter is a thing of beauty,” writes this Etsy seller. “Obviously you will not be able to write a letter on it.. However, just sitting out, it is an eye-catching piece of correspondence history… You most likely won’t see another with this kind of wonderful, rusty patina. I’ve grown attached to it, and am loathe to see it go.”

Fortunately, the asking price of $175 probably means he or she won’t have to part with it too soon.

Oh, and, yes, you will likely see others with that “wonderful, rusty patina.”

01 HNTSAT - All Rusty too
01 HNTSAT - Rough Condition

“Rough condition” — Yah think?


02 HNTSAT - Bad Blick

Yes, I clicked…

© 2015, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Richard P April 5, 2015, 12:27 am

    Yikes, that “patina” is a fright!

    I also like how they say, “Sold as is I dont have any way to test it.” What, you can’t push the keys? Or is it that you don’t want to tell us what happened when you did?

  • Bill M April 5, 2015, 6:01 pm

    I love the ones who list a rusty, muddy, and otherwise completely broken machine as ‘rare and in perfect working condition.’

  • T. Munk April 5, 2015, 6:48 pm

    I’m rather amazed that these guys ever sell anything like that. who buys these rusted hulks at those prices?

  • Mark Adams April 6, 2015, 4:47 pm

    Yes, buying a typewriter online can be frustrating. Thank goodness for eBay’s money back guarantee. “Works” should mean exactly that!

  • thesterlingmeasure April 10, 2020, 6:32 pm

    Other pet peeves include: the screaming “RARE!!!” for the typewriter that is anything but…only to be followed by “I am not an expert” (which invites the question, “So your assessment of its rarity is based on…?”; the juvenile “MINTY” …I cannot…I simply cannot; the silly “L@@K”; the cut and paste of text from other websites explaining the entire history of the company, but nothing on the typewriter being sold; the ubiquitous use “HEMINGWAY” on every seemingly every Royal; so many pictures of the case and scarcely any of the typewriter; no type samples; selling a truly rare item for a zillion dollars and still charging shipping; selling a typewriter for a decent price and jacking the shipping up so ridiculously high, you might conclude a piano is being shipped; 12 photos from the same angle; waxing poetic in the description about the haunting siren call of the typewriter; selling a seemingly gorgeously restored machine with every conceivable photo angle…but not one type sample; and finally, selling a “SERVICED” or “RESTORED” typewriter by an “expert” with type alignment not done correctly (or at all).

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