Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Corona Standard typewriter, 1930s

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Corona Standard typewriter keys, 1930s

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Corona Standard typewriter "Floating Shift", 1930s

(Photography note: the keys are white-on-black, not gold as they appear here. The light was less-than-ideal in these shots.)

Maybe it's a little unhealthy, but I really can't stop looking at this machine. Some of it is giddiness over getting it at a price I can agree with, part of it is just for it typing so darn well right out of the case, except for some hangups now and then that I'm attributing to rails in need of cleaning. I don't have very many black-lacquer machines in my collection, but boy is this nice. And the basket ("floating") shift is a treat, especially with that lovely key design.

Yes, I've gone a little crazy. Haven't we all been there, basking in the warm afterglow of a new acquisition?


Ryan Adney said...

You are not crazy at all. I have the same machine and I love looking at it. It has great lines. Funnily enough, the case mine came in had wood blocks added to keep the machine snug as well. I wonder if this was a common thing to do or if there was some article in a Popular Mechanics that made handy guys go out and glue blocks inside their typewriter case?

Cameron said...

You raise some very interesting and pertinent questions about the rising popularity of typewriters.

There are no easy, quick answers. I think that once the genie is let out of the bottle, there truly is no going back -- completely, at any rate.

In other words, the price of typewriters may go down a bit, but probably not as low as before this current surge of popularity started.

Typewriters are a limited commodity; there are only so many of them around. So prices will most likely continue to rise, but perhaps more slowly than they have been, after the craze morphs into something else.

One would hope that Goodwill has learned a lesson from starting out with such a ridiculously inflated price (which I found offensive) -- but I won't hold my breath. They'll probably try to ask too much for the next "vintage" typewriter in reasonably good cosmetic condition, hoping to make a lot of money.

Ledeaux said...

Man oh man oh man! What a beauty! I'm so glad you were able to snare it.

Rob Bowker said...

These old Coronas - and especially their keytops - epitomise pre-war typewriters for me. Well rescued. On high price tags - imagine if the store was burgled and the thieves only took high value goods. Fencing a hot typewriter can't be easy. Or maybe there are typewriter 'laundries' where they get a paint job and the serial numbers ground off.

notagain said...

wow that's a beauty! I never see those on the shelf, it would go straight to auction here. well played, sir.

Mike Speegle said...

Cuss your luck, Clemens. That's a damn fine machine. Well played.

I too have seen that there "Goodwill syndrome" in which a Smith Corona portable was labeled with a ludicrous $80 price tag despite some extremely dodgy action. When I tried to talk the proprietress down, she told me that the price was fixed...FIXED.

Meh. In any case, is it too much to hope that writing machines will see increased popularity while maintaining a sane price point in the free market? Oh, it is? Never mind, then.

Michael Clemens said...

@Ryan: maybe it was an aftermarket enhancement, then? There's not much securing it to the case by way of hardware, just the slot in the back of the machine and a lock in the front. Those blocks would certainly keep the side-to-side motion in check.

@Cameron and @Speegle: I was, quite frankly, insulted by the original price. I certainly understand that this is a charity organization, and that they are entitled to charge whatever they feel is a fair price for their donations. I just want that "fair price" to work in my favor. :-) When I walk in the door at Goodwill, I expect to see slightly-higher-than-flea-market prices, but this was just stratospheric. Part of me wanted to talk with the manager and try to point out the folly ("This will never sell!") and then realized that doing so would either get them to drop the price to a keychopper-friendly zone, or leave it since I'd be so obviously fussed about it. I've made no secret about checking out the machine when I saw it the first time, trying to find the gold-plated part that made it worth so much.

@Ledeaux and @notagain: Agreed! It pained me to pass it up, and I'm glad it was a happy ending for all. I'll have to get some glamor shots once I've cleaned out the dust and polished it up a bit.

@Rob: I remember some discussions on the typewriter boards. Reportedly, filing off serial numbers *was* common practice, back when the typewriters were a commodity and not generally considered a low-tech doorstop.

wordrebel said...

That's just a silly price...$200 would be acceptable if it were totally refurbished and put in a "reputable" shop. Even then I'd have my reservations. That isn't to say that Goodwill or Salvation Army stores aren't reputable but their knowledge base is probably limited to say the least. And I'll just come out with it: sometimes you CAN give too much to charity.

A steal at $40 - so says this life-long SC fanboy. She's pretty and I love that question mark!!

deek said...

I'd say, yes, to the Typosphere Effect, if not directly responsible for the increase in popularity, than at least a vehicle to get the news out to a larger audience.

Richard P said...

I can't blame them for trying to get the maximum on what they perceived as a special antique. They probably wouldn't even know how to search on eBay for this particular model to check the rarity. Anyway, now they've learned a lesson and you have acquired a mighty fine typer! Good going.

Joe V said...

The latest Goodwill in my town was built along a major thoroughfare in the more affluent part of town, in a stand-alone, newly-built structure that appears to have been custom built just for them. It opened last year.

I wandered in one day, didn't see anything I wanted, and left wondering how they could afford such a new facility. Must be funded off the backs of $200 typewriter enthusiasts!

Adwoa said...

Very nice find! I guess Goodwill can now see the error of their ways - it is amazing that this machine sat for months until the price was reduced to an acceptable level. I wonder if it fell directly from $200 to $40, or if there were some intermediate steps?

Whatever the case, congratulations! It's beautiful and seeing this post inspired me to get out my own SC Clipper from that era and compose a letter on it. Lovely machines.

Fernando Antunes said...

Great catch! That machine is a beauty.

michaeliany said...

Love when you win at the waiting game.
I actually waited on one machine to go down... waited 2 months.
This was at an antique shop rather than a goodwill though. i suppose the goodwill has some policy to keep moving stock whereas an antique shop really has no time table as long as the dealer is paying rent for the space.
well i lost that battle and finally caved when i just felt that someone was going to buy it bc it was a decent price, especially since a recent eBay auction ended with the price well beyond reasonable. i suppose that forced my hand to make the purchase at a price i felt was a bit high but probably was fair or even considered a great deal by the majority.

anyways, awesome looking machine! i hope you still look at it and smile! one day i will get one of these flattops!