Utne Blogs > Literature

The Art of Typewriter Collecting

by Elizabeth Ryan 

Tags: Great Writing, typewriters, collecting, literature, Poets and Writers, Elizabeth Ryan,


Having recently acquired my own typewriter (a Smith Corona Electra 110), I really appreciated this charming piece by Matthew Solan in Poets & Writers. Solan describes his hobby of collecting old models of typewriters that the literary greats used. From photos, he’s tracked down replicas of Flannery O’Connor’s Royal Standard, William Faulkner’s Underwood Universal, and Ernest Hemingway’s Royal Arrow, to name a few. Solan’s not shy about using the machines either; in fact, he describes his typing experiences in great detail:

“The Arrow is one of my favorites, and I use it almost every day. I love its deep, muffled sound and the way the glass keys feel under my fingertips. I type addresses on envelopes, school excuses for my daughter, and other correspondence. I also reserve the Arrow for the first drafts of my short stories. The mechanics are far from perfect, though. The Shift key sticks sometimes, so it’s hard to type capital letters and symbols. The lowercase L stands in for the number one. And this model has no tabulator key, so I have to space, space, space, space, space to indent a paragraph. But the extra work makes me a more conscientious writer.… It’s like firing a gun with every stroke. You can’t retract the bullet. If you misspell, the typewriter won’t correct it for you. You have to plow on. With a typewriter you can track your progress like a worn path. This is where I’ve been. This is what I’ve learned.”

Source: Poets & Writers

Image by rahego, licensed under Creative Commons.