The Typewriter: Icon or just Art?

DSCF0065As I explore the world of WordPress I keep seeing pictures of old typewriters, just a shot of some of the keys, or even antique typesetting pieces. I purchased an old typewriter last year off eBay to use as a prop. The typewriter I used in the 70s and 80s long gone, I looked for a typewriter that was more artistic that useful. I did not miss the old days of correcting errors with whiteout, strip tape or gawd forbid, an eraser.

Why are many of us attracted to antiques? I am as guilty as anyone in my unabashed luv of artifacts from the last two centuries. Heck, I have a pump organ, also known as a harmonium, in my entryway. You know across from the early 20th century tube radio. And in the garage you will find a ‘57 Schwinn Wasp in pristine condition. Mostly I just look at these things, well when I’m moving slow enough to notice them.

So I’m wondering, is the typewriter still an icon for the world of writing? Or is it just wistful art, a curiosity from days long past? How many of our kids can identify a typewriter as a writing utensil?


Just to tie this up for a blog that is mostly about music, the sax pictured here is a fully functional, albeit rare, Conn F Mezzo soprano saxophone. It is sized between the soprano and alto in the saxophone family. This was a picture that I took for the Woodwind Forum calendar. It made the cover.  :O)

About Gandalfe

Just an itinerant saxophonist trying to find life between the changes. I have retired from the Corps of Engineers and Microsoft. I am an admin on the Woodwind Forum, run the Seattle Solid GOLD Big Band (formerly the Microsoft Jumpin' Jive Orchestra) a GOLD sax quartet, and enjoy time with family and friends.
This entry was posted in Art, Bicycles, Blog, Hobbies, Nerds, Oddities, Photograph, Saxophone, Vintage, Woodwind Forum, WordPress, Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Typewriter: Icon or just Art?

  1. Love love love the feel of a worn antique – a real one – beneath my fingers. Fragile pages of a book, the honeyed wood of 18th century furnishings, the cool metal keys on a vintage typewriter. I imagine the generations that used these objects, the hands that crafted them, the stories they would whisper – if they could. I have a few antiques that were my mother’s and my grandmother’s, and a collection of child’s chairs – not particularly valuable except perhaps to someone who loves their age and gentleness. Some date to the mid 18th century, one to 1800. I hope they will be loved and preserved and handed down. My grandfather – a musician born at the turn of the 20th century – had many old instruments, much loved, all played. How can we not love these objects for their endurance and continued function?

  2. mike says:

    Here’s a great story by Ian Frazier out of The Atlantic years ago about Martin Tytell, one of the last typewriter technicians in NYC:

    Typewriter Man

    That is a beauty you’ve got there, Jim.

    To answer your question, the typewriter is an icon for writing the way a dial phone is an icon for communication. They are (or can be) beautiful artifacts, but even if they remain functional, their value is almost exclusively symbolic and nostalgic; altho the odd kid here and there might find old typewriters fascinating, I doubt that anyone under the age of 40 would want to use one for anything more than a page. I made it all the way through grad school on a manual Olympia, but I didn’t love it then and I doubt I’d love it now.

    Of course, one’s mileage regarding the appeal of old technology will vary. 🙂

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