The Typewriter as Art

Thinking about throwing out that old typewriter? Think again. Long a topic of careful and considered industrial design, collectors are getting wind of the fact that the seemingly obsolete typewriter is a thing of collectible beauty. From Christie’s blog:

The museum community has long recognised their significance. A Roger Tallon retrospective on view at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris earlier this year showed how the French designer worked on jolly-looking Japy typewriters as well as the nation’s fleet of TGV trains. And the new Design Museum in London recently chose the 1969 Olivetti Valentine as one of its dozen iconic objects. There are typewriters in the collections of the Science Museum in London and the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris

A 1953 poster for the Olivetti Lettera 22.

. MoMA began showing them in New York in the 1950s. And cultural figures from Sam Shepard to Leonard Cohen have praised their simplicity. You can’t hack an Imperial or a Smith Corona. No wonder Lady Gaga gets lyrical on a vintage Underwood.

Not only are they beautiful, some of them are fetching huge prices:

 

[Ian] Fleming’s pimped-up Royal sold for £55,750 at Christie’s in 1995. Jack Kerouac’s last typewriter — a pale-green Hermes — made $22,500 in 2010. And in 2009, Cormac McCarthy’s Olivetti — which had cost him $50 in a Tennessee pawnshop in 1963 — achieved a record-breaking $254,500. ‘It has never been serviced or cleaned,’ McCarthy noted, ‘other than blowing out the dust with a service station hose.’

 

The full story is here.

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