ANTIQUE TYPEWRITERS FOR COLLECTORS
Are old typewriters worth money?
For collectors, finding out the value of an antique typewriter is not always easy as the market is forever changing, plus the condition of the typewriter will also affect the price. And to make things more complicated, there are hundreds of types of typewriters that attract interest from collectors around the world. Some range up to the $50,000 price mark, though the most common market for traders is $50 to $300.
There are some classes these typewriters fall into, and you’ll want to familiarise yourself with these as knowing them will make it easier to identify the value of the typewriter.
Antique typewriter/Post-war typewriters
Typewriters made after world war 2 are not as sought after by collectors as they are seen as lookalikes and were produced in mass. Some typewriters from this period are also ugly. Though as with most things, there are exceptions to consider. The exceptions to the rule could be things such as unique or specialized mechanisms. One machine like this would be the Varityper which prints from a time shuttle.
Pre-war typewriters, most belong to the following makes:
The corona typewriter was one of the first portable typewriters available, and the model with a carriage that falls onto the keyboard is popular with collectors. Experienced collectors will look for these in excellent condition and not pay much more than $50. Colored models are worth more than black models.
Unusual in their design, Oliver machines have a U-shaped typebar hovering over the platen and are certainly eye-catching today. Olivers are collectible but don’t expect to get rich if you’ve found one lying in the attic as they usually sell around the $50-$100. Give or take, depending on the condition.
You will find many variations of the Oliver typewriter, with the most popular one being the model that has a nickel finish and tabs sticking out of the sides, which are flat to the ground.
One of the most common typewriters and considered the leader in the industry is the Remington typewriter. As such, they are common and not worth a lot.
Some models are worth a little such as the understroke Remingtons that type on the underside of the platen. A common understroke Remington you’ll come across is the number 6 and number 7, usually worth about $100, but some may be worth more. Understroke Remington typewriters are full-sized office typewriters and will have a model number below 10
Some collectors enjoy collecting Remington portables as they are cheap and can be had for under $30. A nice model is the Remington Electric of 1925. Which is a boxy machine with a carriage return lever on the right-hand side. The Remington electric can cost upwards of several hundred.
Royal typewriters come with an unusually low profile while the keyboard looks like it is emerging from a staircase, often called flatbed models. Popular models to look for are #1, #5, and the standard model, which are worth between $50-$200 depending on the condition.
Earlier models are number 10 and feature a pretty but useless glass window on the sides. Some of these can sell for about $100.
Royal portables are not worth much but are still fun to collect. One model you may want to look out for on your travels is the Royal Grand. These are very rare and the most valuable of all the Royal typewriters.
The L.C. Smith Typewriter is a conventional machine that has fancy horse decals. With these machines, the lower the model number, the better, and one in good condition can sell for around $100
L.C. Smith merged with Corona Typewriters to form Smith-Corona in 1926 and later released the Smith-Corona portable typewriters that became popular for the time. Today, these can sell for $50 or so. Later models of Smith-Corona are of no interest to collectors though they are still thought well of as goos writing machines.
Olympia typewriters are high-quality machines and as they were so successful, supply far outweighs demand which means an Olympia typewriter in good condition will unlikely sell for more than $50.
The Underwood typewriter was popular and known to be very reliable but a little dull in its design. Earlier models are considered collectible and often sell for $200. These earlier models will usually say Wagner Typewriter Co on the back.
Many collectors who only want to own one old typewriter often go for an ordinary Underwood in great condition. Most likely a number 5.
Underwood did produce some nice portable typewriters, particularly the Underwood Standard Portable Typewriter, released from 1919 to 1929. These had three rows of keys and are worth around $40 today.
Not popular with today’s collectors, the Woodstock typewriter is a convention, well-made machine. The Woodstock electric was an early electric typewriter worth under $100 today.