Inmates of the Junk Shop: Typewriters Doing Time

Here’s a look at residents in detention in my neighborhood junk shops near San Francisco. Unfortunately, I did not post bail on any of these beauties. Most of the prices were beyond my current cheap thrills limit. I lucked out with my first six typewriters – they were all free to very affordable.

I had some free time last week, so I decided to go typewriter sightseeing.  There were no typewriters at either Goodwill or St. Vincent de Paul so I headed over to the town junk / antique stores. First stop: an antique shop with three typewriters:

196x Underwood 21

There was a huge piece of luggage that looked like it had a typewriter in it. I popped the case to check it out.



Oooh! Italian!


It sort of worked. I was unable to appreciate the fine Olivetti engineering since the keys were so gummy I had to manually return them to the basket with each stroke. The price was a non-starter for me and it was really HUGE for a portable.  This Underwood 21 is about as portable as my KMC – it would be better with wheels.

193X Remington 5
$95.00 – $125.00 (two price tags)


Neat looking typewriter with swell curves. Seemed to work (ribbon dried out so I couldn’t get a type sample), but there was something funky about the margins which I couldn’t figure out and the keys were pretty sticky. I do love the red “Self Starter” button:



1948 Smith-Corona Silent
Price unknown
S/N 4S204446


I love the looks of these, but this one was in terrible, terrible shape. Looks like someone must have sat on the keyboard as I could see the imprint of buttocks on the sunken keys. Carriage string snapped. Bent and gummed up keys.  I didn’t ask the price on this S-C Silent. I feel like I should go back and ask if only to put it in protective custody. When researching the Floating Shift mechanism online, I ran into a website where someone had made jewelry out of a Floating Shift key. 😦

Next stop – thrift shop down a few blocks away.

195X Smith-Corona Silent Super


In great shape and typed well. It had a San Jose business sticker:



193X Underwood Universal


Gorgeous machine in fine typing shape – with those nifty Underwood spool covers.

Now onto one of my walk-to neighborhood junk shops:

1970 Brother Echelon 89
S/N L0963629


This one triggers some heavy 70s nostalgia in me with that simulated wood grain trim – it’s the Country Squire of typewriters. It typed fine, but I wasn’t thrilled with the sound and feel. I do love those big chunky keys though. And the wood grain trim. Ah, the 70s!

And lastly to my favorite walk-to neighborhood store.  This is where I got my Corona Four, Skyriter and Torpedo. The owner is very flexible about pricing.


I could bring a lot of things home from this place if I had less restraint.

Here is a Burroughs cousin for $50:


I spotted this bevy of beauties:


Well, helloo ladies!

They were on a shelf almost out of reach.

196X Smith-Corona Electra 120
S/N 6LE2 -120200



I am generally not an electric typewriter person though I have bitter-sweet memories of the Selectrics of my youth. This Electra 120 is on the fugly side, but she won me over once I plugged her in – so much fun to play with.

1965 Olympia SG3
S/N: 7-1349732
Price: $30


This Olympia is a honey. Large Marge. I am worried that I might bring her home at some point. I kind of love everything about her except I couldn’t get the right margin to work. And she is HUGE – a mountain of a typewriter. I might be able to talk the junk store owner into a price reduction.  I am enamored of the double spacing key.


And she’s just filthy dirty.  I could spend so many happy hours cleaning up this Olympia.

196X Royal FP
No price


I couldn’t test this one as the ribbon was tangled, I couldn’t pop the lid and the left Magic Margin wouldn’t hold.  Another day perhaps.

Update: I stopped in an antique store in next town over yesterday and saw this:

195x Royal Quiet De Luxe
Price: $375.00


Wow – knock out color and very clean. The price is…more than I am budgeting for typewriters right now. The font is beautiful:


That’s all for my sightseeing – I added the Brother Echelon 89 and the Smith-Corona Electra 120 to the Typewriter Database as the database didn’t yet have photo examples of these fine machines.

Note: this post is partly inspired by Richard Polt’s Typewriter Safaris – they are very entertaining reads:

The Typewriter Revolution: Photo safari
The Typewriter Revolution: Sunday’s safari
The Typewriter Revolution: January’s safari and guessing game



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