Working with What We’ve Got

As a prospective Filipino typewriter collector, I’ll tell you up front that you are not likely to find mint-condition typewriter specimens. I’m with is FaceBook group see, that has antique typewriters collection as its commonality. The majority of the members of the group seem to be on the U.S. mainland and there’s a small (or quiet, I’m not certain which) number of members from the rest of the world.

A uniqueness the US group is they have ready access to antique typewriters, given that the bulk of typewriters were produced in the United States. American typewriter collectors also have the benefit of a climate that favors the preservation of these machines. In short, they have a lot of machines to choose from and in all likelihood, good machines. I can only laugh and be philosophical when I see the lovely specimens they acquire and how little it cost them.

royal10.jpgThe same cannot be said of typewriters in the Philippines. Or in all Tropical countries, I suspect. Our climate cycles includes a very wet season. Even in the dry season, humidity also remains high. Add to that the last two world wars and annual calamities like floods. Socioeconomic factors also play a role. There being less money to go around, what resources there are that are not immediately useful are quickly recycled. When computers entered the scene in the 80s, the bulk of typewriters that existed were summarily gathered up and rendered for their metal. Kinahoy (cannibalized) at tinunaw (melted down). So for Filipino typewriter collectors, what it all adds up to is few machines and machines that are not in good shape.

So are Filipino collectors doomed to having typewriter specimens that are in bad shape? Not necessarily. There are two possible sources for good machines. One source is a cared-for heirloom, formerly private property, that is finally given up to the market as the younger generation assumes the place of the older. Another source, are machines that “drop” into the Philippine market by chance with an assortment of secondhand household goods that are popularly sold locally in the “Ukay-ukay.” It costs too much to purposely ship in an individual mint-condition machine; there’s no telling what condition it is going to arrive in and what costs it may entail in customs duties.

Besides, should collectors only get mint condition machines? Personally I think there is nothing wrong with having recovered decrepit units built up and restored so that they function properly and, with a bit of luck, look as good as the day they came off the assembly line. Enjoying the hobby of typewriter collecting need not mean having a bottomless pocket.

Picture: Royal 10

Published by Uberdoog

Teacher, essayist, nurse, photographer, cook, cyclist, aikidoka, follower of Jesus the Christ, adventure eater, traveler, gardener, coffee and cake lover, and so on. And like many, a student of life.

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