It’s that time of year. Our business nearly doubles from September to December as everyone rushes to either gift themselves or others a typewriter for Christmas which they’ve put off. We agree that Christmas is an ideal time to because there’s nothing like the delight one feels when opening a box with a vintage typewriter in it. The very thought gives me happy chills! ❤️
While everyone needs to make the right buying choice for themselves, we thought we’d give a few pointers regarding purchasing a typewriter as a gift.
Often, when we purchase for others, we tend to look for something less expensive than what we’d spend on ourselves, and I am guilty of that as well. But when it comes to typewriters, please don’t go for “cheap”. Unless you are putting out significant amounts of money for a professionally refurbished or restored typewriter, you must remember you are still purchasing a used, vintage item – and that comes with inherent risks. (Please read this article about the different levels of service and repair you will find out there).
It is worth it to get a typewriter that is a little more but has been checked out for performance, cleaned up, and has a new ribbon. That’s because, since it is a gift, you want to make sure it is as easy to navigate and use, making it a truly pleasurable experience for your friend or loved one.
THE FIRST 3 TIPS
Occasionally, we’ll list “budget” typewriters on our website because something isn’t operational (like a backspace, etc.) but it still types well. The lower price point always draws the gift buyers. Unfortunately, this means a less than ideal typewriter is sent directly to the recipient who is unaware of the issues. I always cringe when this happens because a gift typewriter should be one that works great. So, when it comes to typewriters as a gift, please spend a little EXTRA to make sure it is just the right one. At the same time, please be aware that there are people out there selling unrepaired typewriters for premium prices! (Please read this post I did on Buying A Vintage Typewriter.)
🎁 As a result, my first piece of advice for purchasing a typewriter as a gift is: TAKE YOUR TIME.
Read the descriptions fully, look for any reviews, and if you purchase a typewriter at an antique store or garage sale, here’s my second piece of advice:
🎁 MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A LOCAL TYPEWRITER REPAIR PERSON! I can not overemphasize this enough. We get emails regularly of people wanting to send us their typewriter that they got for a great deal but it doesn’t work. Most typewriter repair people, like us, will NOT take shipments for personal repairs. This is because the cost of shipping is very high, as is the risk for damage.
🎁 This leads me to the third piece of advice: DON’T WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE, as much as possible.
Remember, you are getting a vintage item and there could be unseen issues and the other is, shipping is risky. Most of us that sell typewriters online are really good at packing them but the shipping carriers are really good at damaging them – especially during the holidays (We have no idea what they do to these boxes!). To be fair, in these current situations, our delivery carriers are overworked and understaffed, so we need to give them lots of grace.
You want to leave some time to make sure there’s no damage, and if there is, have time to either return the typewriter or get it repaired. (Here, at Jot & Tittle Vintage Typewriters, we give you 3 days to inspect and test the typewriter and if there are issues, we work within the individual situation to come up with the best and quickest resolution.)
BUYING A TYPEWRITER FOR KIDS
The majority of typewriter gifts are for kids (yes, really!). Thankfully, the typewriters we always recommend for our younger typers are also the ones that are the most affordable, ranging from $200-$240 on our shop (as of 2021). We recommend a 60s or 70s Smith-Corona typewriter. These are solid machines, we paint them in bright colors, and are easy to navigate for little fingers. Occasionally, we get a request from a parent regarding something nicer for a more responsible young writer and we definitely make suggestions in those cases. For example, a Royal Model O or a Royal Quiet Deluxe would be very suitable for someone with smaller hands and are exceptional writing machines.
Also, brightly colored typewriters are fun and more modern shapes are especially desirable for teens, such as the Royal Safari. Typewriter accessories are terrific suggestions for other family members who want to get in on the fun.
- a non-slip typewriter pad
- typewriter covers
- extra typewriter ribbon
- specialty-colored typewriter ribbons
- typewriter maintenance kit
- Paper (One note: while there is such a thing as “typewriter paper”, you can use regular printer paper. For something nicer, onion-skin paper is wonderful for typing. I love the assortment of vintage-inspired, premium typewriter papers here.)
BUYING A TYPEWRITER FOR MEN
The #2 recipient for typewriters as a gift are men. I would look for something that fits their personality rather than something by price point. I have a helpful blog article here: THE PERSONALITIES OF TYPEWRITERS, which is a great resource. Typically, men prefer darker colors and older typewriters such as the 1930s or 40s Smith-Corona Silent. But I’ve also found that the majority of men who purchase from us love Olympia typewriters. These are incredible machines with a velvety smooth performance.
BUYING A TYPEWRITER FOR WOMEN
Women seem to be doing the majority of buying during the holidays but we do get requests for suggestions from partners and friends of women. Again, my suggestions are all very generalized and I recommend reading our other blog posts to understand personalities versus the kinds of typewriters available. That being said, I recommend the lovely body styles of the mid-century modern typewriters. The 1950s brought us some of my favorite machines. Any Royal Quiet Deluxe is a treat but I also adore the curved bodies of the 50s Smith-Corona typewriters. Some of these come in eye-catching colors such as Seafoam Green and Alpine Blue.
My all-time, #1 favorite typewriter, is the late 50s Smith-Corona Electric Portable. It is the absolute easiest typewriter to use, elegant in its feel and appearance, and suitable for petite hands.
No matter who is receiving the typewriter, or even what condition it is in, the top advice I can give it this: WATCH TUTORIAL VIDEOS!
Typewriters are intuitive for some but not for most. Even for those who grew up on typewriters, it’s been a long time. Our YouTube channel hosts hundreds of tutorial videos. I suggest typing a note for their gift box that lists the link to our channel: https://youtube.com/c/jotTittleVintageTypewriters and have them watch videos of the same typewriter model, or something similar. This will put them at rest and help them feel comfortable working with the typewriter. Plus, the videos will most likely answer most questions they may have.
Typewriters are fantastic gifts and become a part of the personality of the person that uses them. What I mean, it’s a very intimate and personal gift to the recipient but completely appropriate under any relationship situation. Typewriters are a medium for creative or philosophical expression at any age. It’s far better than any journal or notebook and it will become as a friend to them.
ALL 10 TIPS
I’ve highlighted and linked to several blog articles in this post and I recommend reading all of them to get a clear idea of what might work best for the person you’d like to gift a typewriter. To recap and bring it all together, here are the highlights of my buying suggestions for gifting a typewriter:
- Take your time. Do your research. Read the details carefully.
- Connect with the closest typewriter repair person to you.
- Don’t wait until the last minute. Buy early to make sure all is in order and for best selection.
- 60s or 70s Smith Corona’s for kids
- Royal Model O, Royal Model B, Royal Quiet Deluxe great for kids or those with smaller hands.
- Remember the accessories: extra ribbon, specialty colors of ribbon, typewriter pad, premium paper, typewriter covers, maintenance kit, etc.
- Men tend to purchase from us: Olympia SM models or older typewriter models such as a 30s or 40s Smith Corona Silent/Standard/Super
- Make sure the typewriter has new ribbon installed
- Test the typewriter before wrapping it up
- Watch Tutorial Videos.
Buying a typewriter for a gift is a delight for both the buyer and the gift recipient! I’m so excited for you and hope this article is helpful in making the process enjoyable. If you have specific questions about what kind of typewriter is best for your situation, please reach out to us. While we are very busy during the fall, I will do my best to respond to your questions in a timely manner.
Happy shopping, Merry Christmas, and Happy Typing!