Good morning! The wait is over! Get ready to see my big last-week score!
Last Tuesday night, I was hip deep in my usual routine of watching Rupaul's Drag Race and window shopping Craigslist, when what to my wondering eyes should appear but the following ad:
I know I quote such amazingly low prices on stuff that you're likely to think some of the blarney of this past weekend may have rubbed off on me, but here is a pre-WWII typewriter, in the antiques section of Nashville's Craiglist, that is actually priced at $20. The ad had been posted an hour earlier, so maybe I still had a chance at getting my clammy little hands on this gem? And twenty smackeroos? Were they missing a zero? I even took a screenshot so you would believe me. I emailed the listing tout de suite and set up a meeting with a girl named Tina at the Maxwell House Hotel off Metro Center.
First thought? This is obviously a "fixer-upper" typewriter that has previously been submerged in the bottom of a lake, thus explaining the sale price. Second thought, this is obviously a serial killer that targets collectors-of-antiquity. I mean, even in the former scenario, a rust-covered, non-functioning nineteen-teen's typewriter should rate at least a fifty dollar price tag. I've seen broken down eighties' IBM Selectrics for more than $20. So I balled down to Rosa Parks Blvd after work on Wednesday and got the goods.
PEOPLE. LOOK AT THIS.
Oh, right. It looks exactly like it does in the other picture, except better!
The Oliver Typewriter Company manufactured typewriters from 1895-1928. The "visible" type feature touted in the advertisement refers to an innovation Oliver made in typing machines, in that their model was the first you could see the type come up as you typed it (and thus realize immediately when you substituted a "q" where a "w" went, and would have to go back and type it over again). This model is the No. 9, and while the ad took its information from a 1912 patent featured on the labeling the No. 9 actually dates from around 1916-1920. The girl I bought it from said that she and her boyfriend has picked it up at a yard sale in Franklin for $35 as "an investment", but they were moving to Washington state and the Craigslist ad was a response to her own threat that she would take it to Goodwill at the end of the weekend if her significant other couldn't find a new home for this old clunker. OH. MY. GOD. TWENTY. DOLLARS. The only thing better than getting something amazing is getting something amazing for pennies on the dollar. Tina said she'd had her email completely flooded with emails overnight, but since mine was the first response, she'd held it for me. FOR ME, FOR ME!
The "u-shaped typebars" are a particularly neat feature on this typewriter-- I didn't take a very good picture, but as you can see on this website, the typebars swoop down from either side in an elegant strike pattern, unique to the traditional semi-circle arrangement of the same. The ribbon is very worn, but intact.
The first thing I did after making the transaction was buckle this guy into the passenger seat of my Civic and drive out to my parents' house. Now, though the bizarre strand of genetic hoarding and collecting can be directly traced from either of my progenitors, they are also contradictorily harsh on me when they think I've spent too much money on something or have not spent wisely. They're the gold standard test for whether or not something is a good buy. We come from a line of Depression-era thinkers, both before and after the actual Depression, mouths to which the withering phrase "Well, I guess you've got more money than sense" is no stranger. However, they were practically as excited as I was!
Mom: [as I'm carrying the thirty pound typewriter in by its side handles and she helps me as I struggle with the screendoor] Dang, Lisa. DANG. Is that what you got?! How much did you pay for it?
Lisa: Twenty bucks.
Mom: Twenty bucks! That's nothing! That's a pizza! I can't believe they sold it to you for that! How much did they pay for it, did they tell you?
Lisa: Thirty five bucks.
Mom: See? That girl probably thought it had depreciated or something. Pssh. That is ridiculous. I can't believe that. [to my dad] Go get your brush and you can dust it off for her.
Dad: [going to get the brush, calling back from his office] Can you put this in your will to me? [Note: As much as my pappy loves me, if I ever end up mysteriously disappearing, please check to make sure that some recent vintage transaction hasn't pushed him over the edge to homicide...HE IS ALWAYS ASKING ME TO WILL THINGS TO HIM]
Lisa: I was afraid you guys would be like "Oh, you shouldn't have bought this great big old thing that you're gonna have to find somewhere to put in the house, and twenty bucks was too much to spend, and blah blah..."
Mom: No! Not at all. I would have bought that.
Dad: [cannily, dusting] You know, if I'd have been smarter about it, I would've been like, 'Aw, it's ok, kid, you know, everybody makes mistakes...and you're young, you didn't know any better. Tell you what, I'll give you twenty-five dollars for this clunker, just so there are no hard feelings about the whole thing.'
Mom: [to my dad] Don't press too hard on those parts with the writing on it. [to me] And you'd make five bucks! That offer stands!
Lisa: NO WAY.
Mom: I'll trade you my projector. [Note: said projector is a 1920's home model which, though missing the motor, is extremely impressive to look at and cost her $6 at a sale they went to without me. WITHOUT ME.]
Lisa: No deal!
Needless to say, much laughs were had, and I felt so proud I thought I might bust about the whole transaction.
|Q: Do we love it? A: DO WE EVER!|
Look at the sneery little freeze frame from the first part of the video! My side angles are not my best angles. Bonus points if you can tell from which Oscar-sweeping favorite movie of mine this dialogue is wholesale paraphrased (if your curiosity is killing you, the answer's here). But do you hear the clack clack clacking? Could you believe it? And if the ribbon weren't so inkless, I assure you, it would cough up some beautiful print, if the faint markings it did make are any indication.
My dad said he would lend me an old typewriter stand he has in the attic somewhere as soon as he could unearth it. "It's from the forties', so it wouldn't be period-perfect for the one you have, but it'd still be better than nothing!" he offered. Yahoo! Now I just have to make display space for it somewhere in my office!
Do you have any crazy old typewriters hanging around the house or the attic? What's the wildest deal anyone ever gave you on Craigslist? What do you think about my find (or my 1930's newspaper man impression)?
That's all for today! I'm gonna muscle through this gloomy Monday and I'll see you guys right back here tomorrow! Til then.