The Shannon L. Johnson Typewriter Collection, a tribute to typewriters and their makers.


Seller's Guide to Typewriters & Keytops


[ Link to Beyond the Basics ]

Selling typewriters can be rewarding or frustrating. Some machines are quite valuable and some aren't.

Poor pictures will put a dent in your potential sale. Two should be a minimum, a 30° above-front-right (or left) and a 30° above-back-left (or right). The detail should be discernible and not too much or too little flash; natural light works best.

Describe, as best you can, how well the machine functions, and any defects, mechanical or cosmetic.

Find the serial number if you can and include it in your description. It is engraved on the machine in a location that is usually isn't too difficult to find, but it isn't imperative to find it. Collectors appreciate seeing that the seller went to the effort to find it, and it will help the knowledgeable collector determine the age of the machine.

Pack it properly, that way it gets there in one piece and everyone is happy. Cast iron is very brittle in the hands of delivery services. Here are some instruction that will get the machine to its new home, the buyer should pay what is necessary to cover the packaging costs.

If you don't know how much it's worth search eBay's completed auctions for other typewriters like you're selling. Or start it a $10 and let it go from there. If it's rare you will let many bidders in at the low end and encourage a bidding war. Bidding wars are good for sellers.

Just be sure the make, model and "typewriter" are spelled properly (otherwise very few will find your listing), and that you have a reasonable description with pictures.

I will not give estimates on a machine's value, I don't have the time to follow the market close enough, or to respond to such questions to be of any help.

One More Thing

Do not lift or plagiarize any article on a website about a typewriter, the authors are active with online auctions to one extent or another, and can spot their words in an instant. Most do not like to find their words copied and eBay will pull auctions that violate the Intellectual Property Owner's rights if asked to. Just because it's out there on the net, doesn't mean its free to "borrow."

Put a summary in your own words, if a buyer is that interested in the background they can do their own research at the source like you did.


The metal castings on old typewriters are fragile, please follow these instructions.

For Typewriters

  1. Secure carriage by tying it to the frame to prevent movement up/down or sideways.

  2. Fill all large voids in the machine with wadded newspaper to prevent movement of typebars or other parts.

  3. Bag machine in plastic and tape securely.
  4. Box the bagged machine with at least 4 inches of wadded paper or foam peanuts on top, bottom, and all sides; tape securely.

  5. Double-box machine with at least 4 inches of wadded paper or peanuts on top, bottom and all sides of inner box; tape securely.

  6. Mark the shipping box with stickers indicating "FRAGILE" and "THIS SIDE UP".

For Portable Typewriters

  1. Inside its case, fill all empty spaces in and around the machine with wadded paper to prevent movement of carriage, typebars or other parts.

  2. Bag the cased machine in plastic and tape securely.

  3. Box the bagged case with at least 4 inches of wadded paper or foam peanuts on top, bottom, and all sides and tape securely.

  4. Mark the shipping box with stickers indicating "FRAGILE" and "THIS SIDE UP".

Instructions provided by Gary Bothe.

Beyond the Basics

So your a seller who knows they have a valuable machine and want to know what more you can do to really push your profit potential.

First you need multiple pictures from multiple angles. If the machine is functional, a type specimen is a big plus (bonus if you note how many characters per inch). If the ribbon is worn out or missing, carbon paper will also work and is available locally.


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