Typewriters are wonderful machines. Two are coming to auction, and they’re more wonderful than most.

I started earnestly writing when I was 15 years old. I wrote with a Parker 75 fountain pen filled with Sheaffer’s Skrip Peacock Blue writing fluid. (I was a pretentious little twit, and I liked the vibrant—near neon—blue.)

After a couple of my teachers complained to my parents about my flamboyant choice of ink color, my grandmother gave me the typewriter that I’d seen on TV and had asked for for Christmas—a Remington Streamliner.

I continue to have a fondness for manual typewriters. There’s the heft of the machine, the feel of your fingers on keys, the distinctive sound of the keystrokes and the ring of the carriage return bell, the specific tempo and rhythm you have to learn, and each machine’s personality that intrigues me. (Every manual typewriter has its own quirks.)

I no longer have a typewriter, but when I notice one for sale, I always take a look. They bring back nice memories. This week I saw two that made my eyes widen.

The first is Jack Kerouac’s personal Smith-Corona. It’s the one he used to compose and type Vanity of Duluoz—written in 1967—published in 1968. University Auctions (UA) notes that “the machine is in good, used condition with the 1) original typewriter cover, 2) the original typewriter handbook, 3) the original purchase receipt, 4) the original typewriter ribbon and even the original coffee stains.” They say that while Christie’s auction house sold a typewriter in 2010—formerly the claimant to being the last typewriter Kerouac bought, their paperwork clearly disputes Christie’s claim.

The second, my favorite, is a Royal HH model. It’s bigger, clunkier, and has—according to UA—an impeccable provenance. It also has, in my opinion, one of the best feeling carriage return bars ever made. The auction house says that Hemingway’s Royal carries Serial number HHP-4938968 is circa the mid-1950s and was used by him to write A Moveable Feast—his tale of early days spent among writing giants the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and James Joyce. It comes with the original typewriter ribbon.

Visit University Auctions.


By Stephen Brockelman

As a Sr. Writer at T. Rowe Price, I work with a group of the best copywriters around. We belong to the broader creative team within Enterprise Creative, a part of Corporate Marketing Services. _____________________________________________ A long and winding road: My path to T. Rowe Price was more twisted than Fidelity’s green line. With scholarship in hand, I left Kansas at 18 to study theatre in New York. When my soap opera paychecks stopped coming from CBS and started coming from the show’s sponsor, Proctor & Gamble, I discovered the power of advertising and switched careers. Over the years I’ve owned an ad agency in San Francisco; worked for Norman Lear on All in the Family, Good Times, Sanford and Son, and the rest of his hit shows; and as a member of Directors Guild of America, I directed Desi Arnaz in his last television appearance— we remained friends until his death. In 1988 I began freelancing full time didn’t look back. In January 2012 my rep at Boss Group called and said, “I know you don’t want to commute and writing for the financial industry isn’t high on your wish list, but I have a gig with T. Rowe Price in Owings Mills…” I was a contractor for eight months, drank the corporate Kool-Aid, became a TRP associate that August, and today I find myself smiling more often than not.

1 comment

  1. I come from the 1970s IBM Selectric era, and I can still remember the smell of hot machine oil and machine-gun staccato of the ball! Thanks for sharing your memories with us, Brockelman. Digital natives might never know about this stuff otherwise.

Leave a ReplyCancel reply

Exit mobile version