The End of the Line: Typewriters of the SF Bay Area

Sad to report that we didn’t take any fun typewriter hunting excursions to antique malls in Nevada. I was concerned about the roads between Winnemucca, NV and San Mateo, CA.  There are currently 17 active wild fires burning in California. I worried that we might hit road closures in the Sierra.  It was a bit smoky in parts, but otherwise the roads were fine—congested with weekend traffic but fine.

Outside Reno the smoke was pretty bad
photo: daughter Echevarria

We made it to San Francisco, the City of Year Round Wool.  I love you, Fog.  It was 64° as we crossed the Bay Bridge.

photo: daughter Echevarria

We got to the House Without Parents: Bay Area Edition™ where my son greeted us. We delivered the car and accomplished our primary mission.  The old house smelled vaguely of old typewriters – I added a couple more to the aroma:

I felt like I needed some closure to my Typewriters Across America Experience, so I went out walking in the neighborhood to visit some of my old haunts – various thrifts, Goodwill, antique stores.  I saw a really cool van, but no typewriters:

If this van’s a-rockin’, don’t come a-knockin’

I drove down the peninsula to an antique mall that I have been to before and saw some typewriters:

Royal KHM – no price

Very clean and pretty Royal Quiet De Luxe – $295

Smith-Corona Classic 12 – $45

Remington portable – no price

Remington 12 – no price

Three out of the five didn’t have a price, so this wasn’t a very informative typewriter safari.

I was restless, so I decided to head up to San Francisco check out an antique and collectibles mall I had heard about.

When Moe closed her shop in San Mateo, she opened a small display at an antiques and colllectibles collective in SF called Stuff.

I took the train up to San Francisco and hiked over:

150 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94103

It’s big:  two levels with 17,000 sq ft of display space and 60+ vendors.

I found Moe’s case – a distillation of the pure essence of Mozo’s:

Stuff is full of stuff, and they had typewriters.

Corona Standard portable – $145

Alpina SK24 – $120 “as-is”

Pretty little Remington portable $365

Underwood – $575

Immaculate Adler J3 – $59

The Adler came with the factory control sheet, user manual, cleaning set.  Looks like it has an interesting typeface.

Smith-Corona Sterling Cartridge – $65

Sears The Scholar – $65

Sears Best Medalist Power 12 – $49

Power Return!

Brother Charger 11 – $145

Wizard Truetype (rebranded Brother) – $125

I hadn’t meant to buy anything since I was on foot and on the train.  I ended up with two.  Can you guess which two?

Now I need to drive up to San Francisco to retrieve my loot.

30 thoughts on “The End of the Line: Typewriters of the SF Bay Area

  1. Mt guess is teh J3 and the Wizard. Adler J3 & J4 typewriters are generally smooth as silk and will rival many others. Brothers are surprisingly good typewriters from Japan.

    All those way out of line prices: as bad as Epay.


    • I did bring the Adler home, but I left the Wizard and took the Alpina. I hadn’t seen a Wizard before, but from what I’ve read they were sold through the Western Auto chain.


  2. Well, I wonder about the Corona Flat Top because they are so classy but I am spoiled – I spent $25 for my last Flat Top from an old Vermonter who found it in a storage shed. I’m not sure if I would go $145 – but…it is a good price. Love that two tone Remington but $365 is out of my price range. I am only sure about one of the machines you purchased – the Alpina. They are fantastic, I have one that I also got for $25….I KNOW! I’m lucky! The one you pictured is a beautiful example plus it’s seems broken, which I know you love! I bet you negotiated the price down.

    PS – I am sure you did not get the Underwood 5 – way overpriced and impossible to lug around San Francisco!


    • David – you’re killing me with your Vermont typewriter deals – so lucky. You’ll need to do a safari post on Vermont typewriters.

      You are right about the Alpina. I also bought the Adler.


  3. Nick Merritt says:

    I guessed the Adler and Alpina too — the Adler is a great deal, and the typeface is great, as you mentioned. When I saw the Alpina was “as is” I knew you wouldn’t be able to resist that challenge! Plus, those are reputed to be wonderful machines.


  4. Late comment, but some of those prices! Typewriters have gone up – I can understand a 2-tone Remington being pricey, the Underwood is nice, but not /that/ nice.
    But the machines ‘ve gone up in the Low Countries too – it may be that Vermont is the remaining spot where they can be had for reasonable amounts 😉


    • John Cooper says:

      RobertG, understand that this last set was in San Francisco, where an older 1-bathroom house in a modest neighborhood costs $1,600,000. Prices for everything are higher in that kind of environment, so I’d expect typewriters to be most expensive there as well.


    • That $575 Underwood 5 was nice – maybe these old machines are finally getting the respect they deserve. However, it makes me think I should maybe start a business rehabilitating Underwood 5s that I come across. 🙂


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