Sunday, 4 November 2012

A Recent Acquisition

I really haven’t been around to write for this dilapidated little blog. Maybe that’s a sign that I have the remnants of a life, and just don’t have enough time to write about them here. Every time I think about writing a post I tell myself that I’ll do it later, and then, in classic style, I don’t do it at all. So I have had to employ the very old ploy to post for no reason: The update just to update.

Of course I’ve tried to hide that this is, in fact, the case by calling the post “A Recent Acquisition”, but you’ll see through that thin veil of deception, I’m sure.

In my blogging absence I dabbled in buying a typewriter online. I was struck with beginners luck and of course, I didn’t win it. It was an Olympia SM-something and it came up for sale on Gumtree. Gumtree, to the uninitiated, is an online market place more like the classified pages than the local auction room. People run their own “auctions” via email, but it doesn’t have the same feel to it as eBay. This Olympia had the second most beautiful phrase in the price box: Negotiable. The most beautiful would be ‘free’, but I’ve yet to find one like that. The description – as usual highly vague – said that the highest offer by Tuesday [by email] would get it. I offered $35. I assume that someone has a nice Olympia somewhere in Canberra that they paid more than $35 for.

It showed me that it really isn’t like buying typewriters in the “wild”, which is where most of my little collection has come from. There’s a thrill in the “wild”, and yes, there’s a thrill online, but it isn’t the same sort of thrill. Online there is this painful waiting that you have to put yourself through, but in the “wild” it’s right there. Are you going to buy it or not? What’s the price? And you either pull your wallet out or leave it in your back pocket. Then, in some sort of vain, narcissistic victory lap, you get to carry your prize around the rest of the market, garage sale, car boot sale, Trash’n’Treasure, swap meet, school fete or pokey little second hand shop somewhere out in the sticks. Or at least this is what I found the other day...

No one would every buy an Olivetti Valentine with the intent of writing the next great novel on it. Someone would buy an Olivetti Valentine to put it on display and look it thinking to themselves, “Hey, that’s a bloody good looking typewriter”.

So, I may as well cut to the chase, I bought a second Valentine last week. We were walking into Sydney’s famed Rozelle Market, and there, in the very first stall, was a Valentine, with a case and with an all important price tag. A few hushed seconds to process what I saw and I realised that, yes, that price tag read “Typewriter: $45.”

Sydney must not be as nearly as “trendy” as Melbourne, where any typewriter in red, green, orange, blue, purple, an occasionally gun metal grey will sell for spectacular prices. Sydney mustn’t be in the market for the “most sought after portable typewriter today”. They must think that those sorts of prices are just for mad men, and so they ask for amounts that are much more reasonable.

For five whole seconds I thought long and hard about the decision. In the next two seconds I was informed by the stall holder that he was “pretty firm on that price”, well, I thought, I was pretty firm on buying it. And so I got to carry around the red case for the rest of the visit to the market, a sort of trophy for my efforts.

In hindsight I didn’t need another Valentine, one was enough. But sometimes, well, a bargain does something to your mind and you just end up coming home with it. Besides, they’re different. I don’t have double ups at all. One’s a Valentine S, without tabulator, the other a Valentine, with tabulator. I wouldn’t like to be greedy and have two of the very same thing, now, would I?

Pictures are coming, as soon as I get a chance to give it a clean up and a nice polish.


  1. That's a steal! Great find and congratulations. I don't think it is greedy to have two Valentines, I am doubled up on a few models myself... of course they all have their little differences in typefaces or features etc. Except my KMMs, those are identical. Good to see another post from you. I really enjoy your blog.

    1. It did feel like highway robbery as I bought it... And too many KMMs, I don't think that can be done even if they're perfectly identical. Part of my "one day" dream is to have two typewriters with consecutive serial numbers. Now that would be cool. For now, though, two Valentines is right up there, and so are two KMMs.

  2. Great luck!

    It is definitely more exciting to find a coveted object in the physical world.

  3. I will echo Richard. We have all said that since we don't really buy any typewriters any more here in the Davis empire, or really any other collectibles any more, that what we really miss most is the "thrill of the hunt." Nice to see that half a world away and a generation away the feeling about heading out to search is the same.

    By the way, your bio is hilarious!

  4. Ha ha ha, don't feel too bad.
    I'm through my 4th Valentine!