Last week I visited a Salvation Army I’d never tried before for some quick typewriter hunting. Between two late-period electric Smith Coronas I spotted a silver fiberglass case that screamed Olympia. And sure enough, I popped it open and beheld this 1959 SM3 (photo taken post-cleanup):
The combo of gray body and brown keys was not my favorite. And despite the carriage being unlocked and the general appearance of working order, I just couldn’t get the typebars to strike. I try to make sure typewriters I buy at least type decently before I commit, especially since this was going to be a refurbish-and-resell.
But it was $20, and since I couldn’t do an autopsy right there on the shelves between the kitchen appliances and stereos, I decided it was worth the risk knowing I’d make a profit regardless.
I brought it to the checkout. Then, because either the cashier misread the tag or there was a sale I didn’t know about, she rang it up as $10.
Merry Christmas to me, I thought. I could barely hide my smile as I left.
Mr. 2 Years Old was eager to help me clean and fix it, and was especially keen on using the compressed air can to blow out an impressive amount of gunk.
The typing issue, I eventually discovered, was due to the margin release bar blocking the typebars from striking even when it wasn’t activated. I’m guessing it’s due to the mechanism slowly loosening over the years? Regardless, giving it a little bump set the typebars free and made it sellable.
And I did sell it yesterday via Facebook Marketplace for $100, making me a 900% return. Typewriters—better than Bitcoin!