Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Typecast: A farewell to thrift

An interesting find - here in Geneva, that is, but not for CHF 80.


The Facit TP-1 came with an elegant, rounded case - like a piece of vintage luggage. 
Quite a contrast to the squarish appearance of the typewriter itself.

Other than the stylized presentation of the brand name on the rear of the typewriter, there are many more fine details which I now realize I didn't notice - not having examined the machine too closely in the store. Richard's recent post is particularly illuminating...

16 comments:

  1. Sorry to hear that. Maybe, if no one buys these machines, the prices will come down again. Here in Zurich, things are getting better now. I recently found about 10 typewriters in a newly opened thrift store. I didn't take any of them, though. And I think sellers are usually ready to haggle.

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    1. I hope you took pictures to share, Florian! That is what I find fun about spotting typewriters these days, even if the prices are getting out of my price range. Do let me know where the new thrift store is; I have to go to Zurich for an event in July and I would love to visit it!

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    2. I did! I'll do a post about it somewhen in the near future. :) There even seems to be a fleamarktet on weekends!

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  2. Dear Adwoa, I think your farewell to thrift stores is premature, and by much so. The one typewriter you saw in the shop-window in Basel is not representative at all - it is the typical shop where they think that anything old is an antique, and often ask ridiculous prices. But even there, prices for typewriters are around 50, 60 at normal times. Once they had a Valentine for 110, which is the other extreme (oh, by the way, have I already shown my complete disdain for the Olivetti Valentine? I think so, but just to be sure: bad typewriter, cheap piece of plastic! hands off, everybody). But let's come back to the topic of your post. As a regular visitor to thrift stores in Basel and other parts of Switzerland, I would say for 10 or 20 francs you can find great typewriters, at almost any time.
    In more general terms, I think that the occasional rise in typewriter prices is a good sign, even a great sign. It seems to indicate that these items are VALUED. Personally, I find typewriters completely underrated, and even dangerously so, if we look at ridiculous ebay prices of 1 euro for a typewriter - I wonder why sellers even bother to go through posting, packing, sending for next to nothing. These prices are far too low. We are used to getting the typewriters for next to nothing, but overall they are way too cheap (at least in Switzerland and Germany), and a slight rise of prices would be a welcomed sign to me - a sign that society rediscovers the value of these beautiful objects. The prices are particularly low when set against the general price level of Switzerland. A reasonable meal when eating out (I say reasonable, not necessarily good, which is a rare thing to find) will cost you 30 to 50 francs (wine included of course), so this would buy you at least two typewriters.
    As to the golden days, I think these were the times of Adler and Beeching, when only a hand ful of people collected typewriters, and you could find real treasures worth thousands of dollars now for a dime on fleamarkets, the times before internet and ebay especially. Anyway, we shall find our Sphinx, and this is for sure!

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    1. Georg - I agree that my farewell is premature. The flea market sellers still ask for reasonable prices, and the auction sites are also fair. I have just been spoiled, because I was used to a rather casual attitude from the thrift stores, and this sudden vigilance and aggressive pricing (probably on everything, but of course I notice it on the typewriters first) is off-putting. Still, if I really want a machine, I will be willing to pay what I feel it is worth. I am just sad that the era of 10-20 franc machines seems to be over in Geneva, although I am sure it will be back in a few years if and when this current pricing strategy fails.

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  3. Adwoa, sorry to hear about the sudden price surge at the thrift shops. I guess news travels fast, they probably even read about the Basel type-in and your foray into the fashion world. Have you noticed price changes in the flea markets? I sure hope not!

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    1. It's been a while since I even spotted typewriters at the flea market! This Saturday promises to be exceptionally sunny, finally, so I'll try to go over and take a look. The prices seem to be the same, though, last I checked.

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  4. Ouch! The high prices hurt. Even if I am not in Geneva the high prices are reflected here in the U.S. also. The highest prices are often on Ebay and Etsy, but the prices on Craigslist, Bonanza and some of the other sites are up also. Local purchases from private individuals can be made at times and those are at quite low prices. I've never found any manual typewriters at any of the area thrift stores. Sometimes there will be a wedge in a pawn shop or thrift store. Closest flea markets are too far away to be worthwhile.

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    1. Yes, I think the alarming thing is how quickly the prices rose - and how rapidly the stores went from not really caring about the typewriters to putting them front and center with a big sticker! I'll still forage in the trash piles when I pass by, though, you never know...

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  5. As Georg said, the '70s (from what I've heard) were really the golden age of typewriter prices -- although finding, say, a Blickensderfer must have been much harder given the communications of the time.

    I think CHF 40 would be a good price for a TP1, although another cheaper one is bound to show up sooner or later.

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    1. A couple of years ago, there was a TP1 that was listed for several weeks for CHF 1 before finding a buyer (and he ended up being the only bidder, too). So bargains can be found online even if my regular haunts are getting pricey (again, this might be just in Geneva). I also keep wondering whether the golden age of typewriter prices is behind us, but every once in a while I come across a great bargain that is reassuring.

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  6. It is sad. Here in Los Angeles, typewriter prices have gotten ridiculous. Ever since I started last year, prices have more than doubled. It's closer to a triple or quadruple from a year ago. Last year I could still spot typewriters at goodwill or thrift stores for 20-30. Now they're pricing at 40 to 70, and these are not necessarily working machines. To get a gage, try searching typewriters in the Los Angeles Craigslist.

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  7. Yeah, my latest price shock came by way of Craigslist. I texted the seller for his Lettera 22. He asked for my offer ($20 cash). He said he was looking for in the hundreds. I informed him of the inflated prices he is probably consulting and he dropped his price to $60.

    Still, too much for me, as I am not dying to get a 22 (I have an awesome 32 already).

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  8. Sticker shock is certainly true here: I know I've blogged about it. I like Georg's philosophy that higher prices mean that people are valuing these machines more, but I still want them to value them less when I'm out shopping. :-)

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  9. I've also felt the same here in Portugal. For some reason prices are getting higher... Also online and on the fleamarket...

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  10. I am looking for a working typewriter in Zurich, and Google led me to this post. Does anyone have any advice or recommendations?

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