Wednesday, 3 October 2012

A Reason behind Key-Chopping?


Image (8)

POST SCRIPT: I’ve been reading your comments and a few have mentioned that my scanning isn’t very good. Is the typecast above any better? I’ve been experimenting and while I haven’t reached what would be considered good, I’d like to know if the one above is any improvement. Of course there’s no improvement in the content: it’s still a poorly researched, poorly written post.


  1. Your scan is just fine.

    The d***heads that key chop are usually making excuses like that. It is just part of the complete wank that they come up with the sell their sh*tty product. Keychopping reduces a beautiful machine down to a novelty craft product.

    Hop on the craft boards and you'll see dozens of halfwitted crafties seeking 'anyone got an old typewriter that they are throwing away'? The keys are not admirable away from the typewriter, and it just looks like trashy novelty beading. History - destroyed.

  2. Good points.
    The mummy reference is an excellent point to consider, as they were grinded to paint, and I think the corpses of 2000 year old Egyptians were thrown away, I think. That's the same thing keychoppers do: Let's take a minor part of a objects of cultural value and throw the rest away. Oh, and the stupid thing they attach the keys to will be thrown away in a few years as well.

  3. ...Have you ever read a book called 'The End of Nature'? This post reminds me of it. If you haven't, I do suggest it. It kind of blew my mind.

    While I'll not justify it, I can almost understand it, as I was a hairsbreadth away from becoming a keychopper myself (NOT for crappy jewelry however; let me be clear about that). But I didn't. It never really seemed 'right' to me, despite some of the fantastic things I was seeing made and wanted to make with typewriter keys (look up 'datamancer' and you'll understand) and I knew there had to be a better way.

    I ended up with a rusted-solid old Royal in my lap one Summer morning, and considered it for my project...for about five minutes. It was that machine that turned me from a would-be keychopper to a near-worshipful collector of these wonderful machines. The difference? A reverence for history, research...and the Typosphere, oz.Typewriter specifically. One post from Mr. Messenger about the wonderful Royal Standard No. 5s' and I was hooked, never destined to become a machine-disfigurer in the first place.

    I have since met another Typospherian who has not only shown me alternatives to real keys which would be better for my projects anyway, but who is undertaking an effort with me to restore the machines that have been disfigured. It's still a project in infancy, but we'll see where it takes us. (You know who you are!)

    So I have lain it out there--my personal history with typewriters--to take as you will. Keychoppers chop out of ignorance, irreverence and lack of research, in my opinion. I think some potential ones (like I was) are redeemable. We just have to reach them.

    Your typecast this time 'round does look much clearer! Huzzah!

  4. Perhaps the best analogy for keychoppers is that of the ivory hunters in days of old, who hunted and killed elephants only to remove their tusks. The world-wide crackdown on the ivory trade has to my knowledge greatly reduced this phenomenon (along with far better staffing of the African ranges with armed range guards.)

    In the early days when I first started the "Keychopper alerts" on the Portable Typewriter Forum, we actually got in contact with a few of the most popular keychoppers on e-Bay and had civil discussion. This discussion revealed that their concept was that they were "harvesting" the keys. While some might infer that this attitude assumes that the typewriters were already shot, the fact of the matter is that this term is that which allowed the keychoppers to essentially depersonalize the machines -- the act of "harvesting" sounds organic and positive to the ear even if not to the mind.

    I was very glad to read your typecast on the subject and I am happy to see that people are still wrestling with the concept and taking stands on it -- and then (all the better) publishing all of those so that we can understand each individual blogger's thought process.

    -Will Davis

  5. The conflict between Typospherians and Keychoppers seems much more muted these days, not too long ago the feelings were more intense on the subject. I'm glad, really - it could have eventually reached this level someday :P

    1. Personally, I think that is because typewriters have recently become much more sought after as a whole. Crafters don't want to pay more than a certain amount for the machines they are mincing up.

  6. There were people back in the day who accumulated piles of typewriters at exorbitant prices just in order to have the satisfaction of having won them away from keychoppers. While some of these were the popular-to-chop Remington Bantams with training keyboards and any other 3-1/2 row Remington, most were pretty common. Meanwhile, some good ones got away.

    I have a Woodstock Electrite that is complete, which I got from a keychopper a long time ago. The auction photo showing the keyboard had just a bit of extra range, and I made out what looked like the edge of a motor housing. Long story short - I contacted the seller to confirm it was an Electrite and she was amazed I figured it out but agreed to redo the auction for the whole machine. She said "I will do that, but I'll have to relist the auction from the start." I said "That's fine; I'll win it anyway." I did. Luckily, she had not chopped the keys... which was my first question.

  7. Your scan looks good. I use an Epson flatbed scanner, do a preview scan, set the cropping margins, then adjust the levels so the dark and white points are right at the left and right sides of the spectrum, then drag the midpoint marker down to around 1.0 or so. This gives good contrast and also permits the texture of the paper to show on the scan. If you don't want the paper texture to show, just raise the midpoint until the paper texture is pure white.

    Great post, thought-provoking.


  8. You didn't justify keychopping, you explained it psychologically -- big difference. Good job.

    As for the scan, I find it readable but do think that a higher-resolution scan would be easier on my eyes. Try experimenting with 125 or 150 dpi and see what happens.

  9. I have, in the past, send a message or two to eBay sellers who were selling faux typewriter keys; fake keys that look quite real. I thanked them for not taking to cutting the keys off actual machines, while still providing these people with what they want. Really, with these fake keys being manufactured, I cannot imagine the need to slice the keys off of a typewriter. I cannot agree with it in any way; it is destroying a piece of history so that some teenager can have some shitty piece of jewelry that they will grow weary of. These necklaces/bracelets/rings...whatever, will never last as long as they would have if they had stayed attached to the typewriter.

  10. I never knew there was actual talk between typewriter fans and keychoppers as Will stated above. I'm glad to hear it.

    I guess the keychopping problem is one good thing about the cost of machines increasing. If someone on Craigslist thinks their Hermes Ambassador is worth $900 because one website says so (yall know who) then at least it won't go to keychoppers. Then again, no one ever chops plastic key machines, but still.

    I like the ivory analogy, but, and this will sound harsh, elephants are a renewable resource... antique typewriters are finite.

    1. "no one ever chops plastic key machines..."

      The stupidity of keychoppers cannot be measured within logical limits. I present to you some results from ebay that contradict your statement:

      heck, even 70's SCM electrics with change-a-type keys aren't immune:

      excuse me while I go throw up after seeing so many sets of Royal glass tombstone keysets chopped and laid out in rows while looking for the plastic ones...