Vintage Typewriters


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In a world of taps, swipes, downloads, and digitizing, a vintage typewriter can seem woefully antiquated—more novelty than a vehicle for the Next Great American Novel. But when antique typewriters are reconsidered not as trailblazing tech, but as relics ripe for reinvention, it becomes clear that vintage typewriters still have plenty of potential. If you’re among those who have long harbored a fixation for Remingtons, Olivettis, Underwoods, or Royals, but couldn’t figure out how to justify factoring one into your life (other than employing it as a doorstop, that is), we’ve collected a robust list of how to reuse one in ways that are both fully functional and totally fun.

Use a Vintage Typewriter to: Super-Charge the Guest Book

When most of us think of using a vintage typewriter as decor, we consider using it as a stationary object. While there’s nothing stopping you from plunking down a retro Adler Meteor 12—for literary buffs, Maya Angelou’s typewriter of choice—on your built-in living room shelving, rethinking a typewriter as an object with purpose changes up the dynamic completely. How to use a typewriter in the 2020s? Consider swapping a standard-issue guest book for a refurbished vintage typewriter. In an official, annexed guest house, set an antique typewriter up in the entry on a credenza or console with a note (typed, of course) that encourages guests to record a ledger of their stay. In a guest bedroom, a similar scenario can be played out by placing a used typewriter on a nightstand, luggage rack, or foot-of-the-bed bench. Bind previous guests' accounts and leave the leaflett nearby to get your guests’ literary juices flowing.

Vintage typewriters can also be used in lieu of a typical guest book at a wedding. Rig up a table with a vintage typewriter and a placard encouraging guests to dispel a bit of marriage wisdom to the newlyweds. Not only will a vintage typewriter lend an interactive element to a reception, but it will leave couples with a stack of sentiments that feel perfectly time-worn from the get-go.

Use a Vintage Typewriter to: Optimize an Office

Between a label maker and a drawer full of grosgrain ribbon, chances are your office already doubles as a crafts room of sorts. Given its ambidextrous nature, a vintage typewriter can actually be a sage addition. Unlike printers, which struggle to print on anything that doesn’t fall within the paradigmatic 8” x 10," vintage typewriters can accommodate papers with a myriad of different thicknesses and sizes. Set up an antique typewriter on a sideboard and use it as a specialty appliance that can type up recipes on index cards or labels for gifts. Slide childrens’ artwork through a vintage manual typewriter’s ribbon to clearly mark it with a name and date before hanging it on the fridge (or retiring it to a stockpile in the closet).

Use a Vintage Typewriter to: Pass on Post-Its

Rework an old lovers’ tradition—the act of expounding on notes written in a passed book or journal—by refashioning a refurbished vintage typewriter as a place to work on a continual family ledger. Whether what transpires is a running literary narrative or a list of to-dos, it totally up to you. Since vintage manual typewriters are cordless (a perk not even your smartphone can claim), it’s easy to factor one in just about anywhere. Take advantage of a refurbished vintage typewriter’s lack of begrudging cords and use one as the center of your family messaging center in a high-traffic area like a kitchen or entry. Don’t toss your bulletin board just yet, either. Hung above an antique manual typewriter, a bulletin board is a spot-on place to affix your family's dispatches. To keep everybody in the family on the same page, consider keeping multiple colors of paper on hand and designating colors for grocery lists, appointments, urgent messages, and the like.

Use a Vintage Typewriter to: Add Novel Appeal to a Playroom

With their delightfully tactile keys and molded plastic shells, vintage typewriters are a kid’s dream. Give kids a proper place to play with a typewriter and a typewriter can become far more than just a decor piece, but a functional learning tool. Since vintage and antique typewriters forgo modern tech conveniences like spellcheck and a backspace button, encouraging kiddos to type on one can be a masterful lesson in precision. If you do plan on using a refurbished vintage typewriter in a playroom to encourage aspiring Alcotts and future Faulkers, make an effort to seek out one in a vibrant hue. A red, blue, or aqua typewriter will be all the more appealing to little literaries—not to mention, it’s likely to jive better with a playroom’s youthful energy. Some antique typewriters to keep an eye out for if you are pursuing a colorful make? Olivetti released a fire engine model known as the “Valentine” in the 1960s that collectors covet. The Hermes 3000—a snappy Swiss-designed make—also comes in a sea of seafoam hues. Part of the appeal of the Hermes model is its keys, which feature a contrasting mint green color.

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