Sunday, August 14, 2011

What's It Worth To Ya?

Craft people fascinate me. They have such a good eye for color and whimsy. That's why I like to browse through Etsy. Some things are a little over-priced, but it's nice to know that someone's not going to snipe your auction. Jerks. Anyway, I was looking around typewriters and Etsy seller Meedily has this typewriter for sale:

Hosted by Etsy. 
The list price is $399.00 with $51 for shipping. I love Royal HHs. They are my favorite typewriters and I have always wanted one of them in color. They are rare, but are they $450 rare? I would never deny someone some well-earned money, but I think that the price is just too high for a desktop machine. (My own HH was just $18) What do you think? Fair price or a little on the high side?

While doing some chores I started thinking about a value book. My wife and I have been collecting Heywood-Wakefield for many years and the price guide gives a good idea as to the real rarity of a piece. Moreover, the price guide offers a good starting point for how to tell a deal from a rip-off. It would be really useful to have something like this for the typewriter collecting community. When you are trying to negotiate a price it's helpful if you and the seller have a good idea as to the real value of an machine. So, someone, get working on that, please.


  1. I agree that a value book for typewriters would be a splendid idea! However, it would have to be regional - some typewriters are worth more in the U.S. simply because they are rare there, which is not the case here (very few post-1910 typewriters are worth much in Europe, I reckon).

    I don't know about this particular HH, but I have been watching Etsy for more than a year and I can confirm that some sellers, including the one you're referring to, sometimes snipe from eBay auctions and relist on Etsy for a good profit. I don't know if you're on G+, but here's a discussion we had on the topic a couple of weeks ago; I hope the link works:

  2. It seems that as the popularity of typewriters increases with young & old alike (lots of publicity recently) the prices of all sorts of typewriters goes up -- justified or not.

    "The best appraisal is what a willing buyer will pay a willing seller".

  3. I consider Etsy and to be offering "boutique pricing." If you've got the money to burn, shop there. Personally, I think this HH is overpriced by a factor of ten.

  4. Agree with mpclemens, boutique pricing is selling to people who aren't familiar with typewriters and don't comparison shop - it's not really a measure of the market. (Although it gives random profiteers inflated ideas about what they can or should sell machines for). I think few enough people collect typewriters that there is no logical way to set the value of a machine at this point in time, my two cents. Maybe later if the hobby grows.

  5. Love your new masthead by the way.

  6. @Strikethru: Thanks for to the compliment. A very talented young artist but the name of Nicole Ray put that together for me. She was super awsome about it. I think it adds a nice tough of whimsy and who doesn't like wimsy?

  7. I think the "real value" of an item is what someone actually pays for it. It was worth that much to them, for whatever reason.

    In this case, HHs are common, but I can't tell you the last time I saw a green one, and it appears to be in good condition. So if I had a strong yen for a green HH, and I had $450 to spare, I might spring for it.

    "Boutique pricing" is a fair description of Etsy prices, though I don't know how many of their typewriters actually manage to get sold. I have bought one machine there, a glossy black Torpedo 18. I saw one sell on eBay for over $700 a while ago (admittedly it had "male" and "female" characters, which was cool). This one was much cheaper, although still three figures, so I decided to go for it.

  8. I think the pretty colors are aimed at wedding planners for the trend of typewriter guest books. That would also account for the prices, as that's a drop in the bucket in a professionally planned wedding budget. I want in, but I'm thinking rentals!