Vintage and Antique Typewriters and Me
I started my typewriter journey with a Royal De Luxe. It was black, had gleaming chrome like a Duesenberg, and made a “thwack-thwack-thwack” sound that immediately conjured up images of John Steinbeck or Dashiell Hammett hammering away in the middle of the night in an island of light, wreathed in cigarette smoke.
Old typewriters speak to me, and as I’ve bought, collected, refurbished, and sold them, I’ve learned that my enthusiasm is not unique. Typewriter lovers abound. They can be found in every corner of the world, often toiling away at a recent find, sharing tips with fellow addicts, or taking pleasure in the joy of creating the mechanical, tactile, auditory written words that these machine produce.
Whether you are a first time buyer, a long time collector, or someone who has had the experience of seeing a typewriter for the first time and being enchanted by it, know that I, and many others, share your experience. Falling under the spell of these machines is something I know all too well.
From Vintage Typewriter Collector to Dealer
I became addicted to collecting vintage typewriters even before I purchased my first machine. It began when I saw the chrome-banded Royal De Luxe online. I couldn’t stop looking at it, and I was filled with an immediate desire to own one.
But, not having any experience in buying or collecting typewriters, I stopped myself from jumping in with both feet. Instead, I scoured local thrift and antique stores until I found my first machine: a Royal KMM. It was a “farm fresh,” machine, and looked like it hadn’t been used, much less touched, in decades. I bought it, took it home, and started working on it that day. After some Internet research and a few butterflies, I found some green, slightly lime-scented dish soap, a cup of warm water, and a couple of tooth-brushes and got to work. I don’t remember how long it took me to clean that KMM, but once I was done with it, I had a machine that was beautiful, functional, and what I knew to be the first of many.
After my first machine, I began looking for them in earnest. Local classified ads, thrift stores, and estate sales became my friends. I nervously attended my first estate auction and came away with two vintage typewriters in nearly perfect condition: an Olympia SM9, and a Remington 666. My collection began growing, as did my desire to see it grow.
I found that my love of typewriters was, dare I say it, common. Not only was there are large and passionate typewriter collector community online, but there were tremendous resources available. Refurbishing and repairing these machines became a function of time, patience, and finding the right parts.
Mahogany Rhino Typewriters
As I built my collection and showed my prized finds to friends and family, I found that sharing my enthusiasm for these machines was contagious. People loved them. Children who had never seen them before, or who only knew of them from movies or television, immediately wanted to use them. They wanted to see their words on paper, hear the clattering of the keys and the ringing of the bell, and feel like they were using a piece of history.
I started selling my vintage typewriters. At first I didn’t really know what to do, so I went to eBay. But eBay wasn’t ideal for me. I wanted a place where I could feel more connected to my buyers, where they were free to talk to me about what they wanted and what kind of typewriter they were looking for. So I turned to Etsy, opened a store, and haven’t looked back. I’ve bought and sold hundreds of typewriters, and have scores of them in storage waiting to be refurbished. Some are beautiful, some are common, some are in great shape, and some of them are probably suitable only for the scrapyard, but I still keep them around. Working on these vintage and antique typewriters, returning them to working condition, and sharing them with the world is something I truly enjoy, and something I hope I can continue to do for a long time.
I started Mahogany Rhino to share these machines with you. I want you to get the same sense of wonder and enjoyment from them that I get. I want you to find a machine you love, and one you can share with the people you love.