Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Donor's Second Thoughts

Talk about being conflicted.

In the spirit of helping our community and paring back my typewriter archive, I recently donated this beautiful Corona Silent to a benefit auction.

The auction is a bit of a “do” and has a literary theme. It comes with dinner and speeches by celebrity authors.

The auction’s proceeds go to providing affordable housing to those in need.

Well and good,

Enter the conflict.

I began to get donor’s remorse. I mean, face it, this is one beautiful machine. Just look at it. It’s in great shape. It has classic lines. If I saw it for sale at a reasonable price, I’d pop for it.

Then it occurred to me: It might be for sale for a reasonable price — at the auction.

Why of course! I’ll bid on it.

So I told the folks running the auction that the Corona should have a reserve or floor price that I would pay.


I’m friends with the organizers and they kindly offered to return the Silent in exchange for another less prized typewriter, but I declined.

If someone wants to beat my bid, the typewriter is certain to end up in good hands — for a good cause.

If not, I’m happy to make a donation to a worthy charity and to re-possess a great typewriter.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

From Collector to Archivist

At some point in the last year I stopped collecting typewriters and started archiving them. I've sold or donated several, trying to free space in my basement for other pursuits, not necessarily mine.

My wife is a potter who makes pots faster than I collect typewriters.

We have turf issues.

Clearing space is not easy because as I sell and donate, waif typewriters end up at my doorstep. The word's out that I love these old machines the way some people love kittens and puppies. If you give me a typewriter I'll nurse its wounds, feed it and make sure it ends up in a good home — either mine or someone else's.

Last week a friend brought by the '50s vintage Royal Quiet de Luxe to the left.

This archivist business comes with responsibilities that I'm certain I haven't fully met or even comprehended. I suppose I should be inventorying, recording serial numbers and establishing manufacturing dates. I've done some of that, but not nearly enough. This looks like a job for my dotage.

The one aspect that defines my particular bent in archiving is gathering and identifying machines that are the same models as those used by famous authors. I don't pretend to be any kind of expert in this area, but, as you will see by looking at other posts here, I have made some headway.

I really need to research what archivists in other fields do, just to see how much of the job I want to assume.

In many ways, collectors are archivists without knowing it. And I suppose that archivists are collectors, except that they don't pay for their items. To the contrary, in an ideal world, someone pays them to archive.

No one is paying me and I doubt they ever will— except in typewriters.

That's pay enough.