How Much Are Old Typewriters Worth?
Even as our technological gadgets are becoming ever smaller, smarter and more sophisticated, collective nostalgia means that vintage artefacts are still highly popular commodities. That’s good news for those looking to sell an old typewriter accumulating dust in the attic, since the market for these relics of a bygone era has never been livelier.
As with other heirlooms and historical treasures like sewing machines and record players, specific typewriter value is dependent on a number of factors, including age, rarity, brand, condition and popularity among the typewriter-collecting community. As such, it’s nigh-on impossible to put an accurate value on an individual typewriter without a full and frank assessment in person.
Nevertheless, this handy guide aims to outline some of the key concerns to take into consideration when determining how much a typewriter is worth, as well as give you a rough idea of antique typewriter values based upon the going rates in public auctions on sites like eBay. Of course, for a more comprehensive assessment, you can always get in touch with our team of experts at Vintage Cash Cow, who will be more than happy to help with any queries you may have.
Are old typewriters worth anything?
The short answer is a resounding: YES! While there isn’t really a centralised marketplace where you can go to sell your old typewriter or receive an evaluation of its worth, there are a multitude of dedicated collectors who will be delighted to take one off your hands. Of course, some typewriters will be worth more than others, and the contributing factors to an item’s overall worth do not differ from other antiques. They include:
Unsurprisingly, the earliest period of typewriters – from their invention in the late 1870s to the early 1910s – is the most eagerly sought-after and therefore often the most valuable category of machine. Recent specimens on eBay have sold for between £200 and £800, depending on the other factors listed below. Specimens from the pre-WWII period (prior to the 1940s) have also been known to fetch up to £400, while those from after the war are generally far less popular among collectors. On occasion, they can reach a price tag of £200, though that is only reserved for incredibly rare items. More recent products have sold online for as little as £0.99.
Age and rarity often go hand-in-hand, but that doesn’t mean that rarity can’t exist among newer machines. For example, those manufactured during wartime were occasionally embellished with military insignia; especially rare specimens were designed specifically for Nazi use and have, as a result, taken on a huge historical significance. Other models came with unique features such as the ability to type in a different font or use italics, an unusual keyboard layout or so-called “noiseless” capabilities. One such example recently sold online for £375, showing how a quirky characteristic such as this can add a significant amount to antique typewriter value.
There are literally hundreds of companies that have manufactured typewriters over the last one-and-a-half centuries, so it’s difficult to provide anything close to a comprehensive idea on how much each brand is worth. However, it’s only logical to assume that some of the more common varieties will fetch a lower value, since they are less collectible and therefore less valuable. For example, Underwood is one of the oldest brands in existence and originals can fetch up to £1,000, but for models made after WWII, Underwood Universal typewriter value is unlikely to exceed £100. Similarly, Royal typewriter values can fluctuate anywhere between £0.99 for damaged or commonplace models (of which there are many that have sold for this price online) up to as much as £500 for pristine originals.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly of all, the value of antique typewriters is heavily dependent on the condition of the machine itself. This includes both its mechanical aspects (i.e. how well it functions) and its cosmetic ones (how attractive and undamaged it appears), since many collectors purchase typewriters for ornamental purposes rather than working ones. As with any other antique commodity, the worth of the item will vary depending on how much work is required to restore it to a pristine (or at least presentable condition). Therefore, it might be worth investing the time, money and effort into cleaning or repairing your typewriter prior to selling it in order to achieve a higher price. Having said that, you should be careful not to damage the typewriter in this process, since this will obviously have the opposite of the intended effect upon its valuation!
It should go without saying that none of these factors are exclusively responsible for determining vintage typewriter value. Instead, the specific worth of each individual item will be based on a unique combination of all of them, alongside other considerations such as whether the typewriter is desktop or portable (portable are generally more desirable), whether it comes with accompanying accessories such as a hood or carry case, its country of origin, and particular market trends at the time of selling.
How much is my typewriter worth?
As mentioned above, the wide range of different factors contributing to a typewriter’s value make it impossible to say with any certainty how much your particular model will be worth – whether through private sale or at auction. Additionally, an auction itself is a highly volatile marketplace which depends entirely on the interest of the bidders on any given day. As such, those who place their keepsakes and heirlooms on sites like eBay may find themselves disappointed if an expected valuation is not met for whatever reason.
Fortunately, there is another way which is much less risky and guarantees to net you a payout. At Vintage Cash Cow, we love antique typewriters and are prepared to buy any make or model from any era and in any condition. That saves you the hassle of having to try and fine-tune or fix a damaged machine or polish it up to look its best – a process that could actually result in causing further harm! Instead, all you need to do is request an info pack from our site – the pack contains all the relevant details you need as well as Freepost stickers, so you don’t even pay postage.
Once you’ve sent off your machine and we’ve received the package, one of our in-house typewriter experts will assess the value of your items and send you a bespoke quote. If you accept it, you’ll receive a bank transfer payment the very same day! Alternatively, if you’re not happy with our offer, we’ll happily send your typewriter back to you, with no questions asked, no strings attached and absolutely no expense at your end.
What could be simpler? Get in touch today – we’re waiting to hear from you.
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