Thursday, 9 January 2014

A persistent drought



Large swathes of western Queensland are currently experiencing a drought caused by a lack of rain. I am currently experiencing a drought caused by a lack of typewriters. I find that the frequency with which I blog is correlated to the frequency with which I buy/sell typewriters. It’s been weeks now and there hasn’t been anything half-reasonably priced that I’ve been keen on. Except for one.....

But first, let us examine the term 'persistence'. My ageing dictionary defines persistence thus:

Source: Pocket Oxford Dictionary, 4th edition, 1946, Clarendon Press

This isn’t the definition of persistence. Let me define persistence for you. The second post that I ever posted on this blog, back in March 2013, detailed an Afternoon’s Sojourn where I went antique shopping and spotted an Imperial 66 with the widest carriage I’ve ever seen. So wide, that it had little feet, akin to a crane on a building site, such that it didn't topple over. I wanted it. But it didn’t work and the price tag was an unrealistic $170. 

Paddington Antiques Centre, March 2013

Throughout the rest of the year, by virtue of living fairly close by, I visited the Paddington Antique’s centre around 3 more times. Each time it was still there and each time I would ask whether they might consider a more realistic price for the wide carriage Imperial 66. Each time they would not. Argh! Fast forward several months to December 2013 and what should come up on eBay? Why, I’d spot that carriage a mile off! 


First, a week at $80; no takers, then a week at $60; no takers and now, yet again, listed for a week at $59. Still no bids yet. During the two most recent iterations of this listing I’ve enquired whether the seller may wish to accept a slightly lower price. But each time “No sorry”. Aaaaaaaargh!! Here is someone who has been doggedly trying to sell this typewriter for at least 10 months non-stop and God knows how long before I first spotted it. Despite months (possibly years) in the shop, weeks on eBay and despite lowering the price from $170 to $59, they just can’t move it. It sure doesn’t stop them trying though. THIS, dear friends, is the definition of persistence.

The worst part is that I’m worried their persistence might just pay off. In a moment of weakness I’m genuinely afraid I might swallow my pride and fork out $59 for this 15kg, two foot wide hunk of scrap metal in the vague hope of making it work, marveling at the width of its carriage for a moment, writing the widest typecast ever known to man and then eventually selling it for less than I paid for it. Typewriter droughts will do this to a man...

15 comments:

  1. I suggest you take up film cameras. When there's a drought in one collecting area, there's often a torrent in another. Last night I searched local craigslist for "35mm camera" and sorted by lowest price. Found a 1972 Yashica kit listed simply as "camera and lenses", for $15. The listing was over a month old with no bites. I called, drove a couple miles and now I have a perfectly functioning M42-mount SLR and a full compliment of very nice lenses. :D

    It's raining camera gear, but no typewriters since Christmas week. :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Goodness Ted, that is one ripper of a bargain you scored there! An oldschool SLR would be just most welcome actually and I should have a look. January I generally a good month to be buying too, as everyone has spent their money shortly before Christmas on things that other people won't use or appreciate.

      Delete
  2. Some sellers just won't give up, they have diabolically vast reserves of patience. I hope you can quench your typewriter thirst with something truly desirable and reasonably priced!

    ReplyDelete
  3. $59 doesn't seem that unreasonable to me. Admittedly "a fool and his money are soon parted" probably applies to me more than others.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Perhaps widening your search may be the rain dance you need? There is a rather affable fellow who owns Virginia Antiques and a lovely lass who runs Kijaro Vintage both who often stock and source typewriters - and I'd be so bold to say that if they knew you were looking they'd help you out. What's 15kg of scrap metal worth these days? You might just be getting a bargain.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anna, many thanks for the tip-offs! Moorooka isn't too far from me and I've not heard of Kijaro before, so I should definitely pop in some time. My only issue with companies that source and stock typewriters is that they generally source them from ebay, gumtree and garage sales like me, but sell them at a considerable mark-up in order to turn a profit to stay in business. Scrap metal is generally around $180-200 per tonne, so 15kg of typewriter would get me around $2, so Mr Persistence has still got a fair way to go!

      Delete
  5. Ah huh! I have seen that machine doing the rounds for quite a while. I originally spotted it over a year ago over at Wolloongabba Antiques. They clearly love lugging that massive thing around. I do find it very interesting though. It definitely is an interesting machine. But I'd skip on it. I think now is the time to start chasing the more interesting machines out there - and go further abroad!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Aaaawww.... how frustrating! Stay with your own persistence, one day this machine will cost exactly what you want to pay for it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Don't buy it Steve, it will be just a source of irritation for you. I have seen longer carriages on Imperials, 36 inches is their longest. Curiously, you can inter-change a smaller carriage if it has the correct pitch escapement rack, bottom line, they will never sell it, at least, not to some one in our circle. Imperial made another machine which consisted of two typewriter bases conjoined with an ultra large carriage, just like the one you are contemplating. I saw one many years ago in Melbourne but I manfully resisted the urge to get it and ,boy, am I glad I did .....
    These people simply have no idea of what they are doing. The real value would be about $10.00

    ReplyDelete
  8. Richard, Natalie and Spiderwebz, thanks for your support, I shall attempt to stay strong!

    writeelephant: $59 is better than $170, but still not quite sweet enough for my tastes. While John is probably right about it being worth around $10, my willingness to pay could be pushed as high as $45 I reckon. Hopefully the seller happens to be a little tipsy on wine the next time I annoy him and he crumbles under my polite, gentle pressure.....

    John: Holy cow- a 36 inch carriage? Is that on the one typewriter or the one with two typewriter bases joined together? Boy would I love a 36 inch carriage!! It would look like the Spruce Goose and probably be equally as useful....

    Scott: You join the voices of reason and I appreciate your solidarity. Perhaps the grass is indeed greener on the other side (of the world), tho the Aussie dollar's not doing us any favours at the moment. I believe you're right however, it has been a long time since I have donated any money to the DHL or USPS Gods and these Gods do require a certain amount of almsgiving in return for their continuing benevolence and not driving forklifts over boxes containing typewriters.

    ReplyDelete
  9. With that carriage, no glass of beer is safe! A major drawback for recreational typewriting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now there is a fine justification for me not purchasing it!

      Delete
  10. Steve, it is just an Imperial 66 which is quite a nice typewriter but that carriage is a real drag.. literally...Many manufacturers made exceptionally long carriages , I saw a Royal and a Remington once. They both had extra supporting arms so that they would not tilt over. Many were used in shipping offices as the ships manifest document was really wide

    ReplyDelete
  11. Steve, I think $59's not a terrible price. It works out at £30 and you'll have hours and hours of fun fixing it up and spinning round just to catch a glimpse of the magnificent carriage. I'll bet the problem is drawband-related - an easy fix. But just imagine unsetting all the tabs, returning the carriage and hitting the tab bar - just to watch that thing glide effortlessly into another time zone.

    ReplyDelete