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$7,251 buys a $22.95 machine (1905 price)

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Burnett Typewriter from advertisement

I like a little drama in the typosphere. Earlier today, I posted an article about a Burnett that was up for auction at ShopGoodwill.com (see story here). Well, that machine fetched a whopping $7,251 (listing here). Could it have fetched more? Some collectors have valued the Burnett at well over $10,000 — see Thomas Russo’s Mechanical Typewriters: Their History, Value, and Legacy. Interestingly, the Burnett only sold for $22.95 in its day!

(Oh, if only I had a DeLorean!)

The agony is only compounded when one considers that a Burnett was offered — in modern times — for $25 at a garage sale. No one picked it up, according to this ETCetera article. (And is it just me, or does that Burnett look a lot like the one sold on ShopGoodwill.com? There appears to be a crack on both machines along the front label. Could this be a defect common to the Burnett? Or is it the same machine? To note, ETCetera mentions that the garage sale Burnett was ultiamtely sold on eBay.)

Rare machines do garner premium prices, and I don’t know any collector who’s got one. Tonight, someone is the proud owner of a Burnett.

Many advertisements like this were placed in newspapers in 1905. From the Minneapolis Journal (Minneapolis, Minnesota) Sept. 23, 1905

Many advertisements like this were placed in newspapers in 1905. From the Minneapolis Journal (Minneapolis, Minnesota) Sept. 23, 1905

© 2016, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Tom Hitt August 31, 2016, 3:11 am

    Cool. I don’t need one that badly, bUT I’ll grab one up at that original price. 😉

  • Bill M August 31, 2016, 10:32 am

    I guess if someone has that much to spend on their CC for a typewriter they really want it. I know even if I had the cash or that much credit I doubt I would pay more than 1k for a rare machine. I have yet to pay much for a typewriter, but I do not have any rare ones. I just don’t see the value to me.

    • Mark Adams August 31, 2016, 10:32 pm

      I checked Russo’s book, and he valued the Burnett at $12,000. Wow! But, there are a lot of factors to consider: (1) it’s scarce, (2) it’s old, and (3) it’s an early effort for visible typing. Still, in the bidding for this machine, I was a spectator.

  • Steve K August 31, 2016, 2:08 pm

    Given the price of DeLoreans, you’d be lucky to break even. 😉

  • Richard P August 31, 2016, 9:20 pm

    Both of these Burnetts did have a scratch in the Burnett decal, but at different heights, so they are not the same machine.

    • Mark Adams August 31, 2016, 10:35 pm

      Yeah, I was wondering how it could have gone from eBay to ShopGoodwill.

  • T. Munk August 31, 2016, 10:55 pm

    Whoo! way out of my price range 😀

  • Ed September 1, 2016, 11:10 am

    Wow, I would love to see that machine in person ! Loves very interesting.

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