“The typewriters kind of speak to you.”

From a story “Online auction to sell Heminway and Kerouac typewriters” by Kathleen McWilliams / The Hartford Courant on paris-express.com:

An online auction hosted by Westport-based University Archives later this month will feature 288 items of historical significance, including typewriters belonging to Jack Kerouac and Ernest Hemingway, a postcard written by Mahatma Gandhi and a rare letter signed by Pyotr Tchaikovsky.

The items will be auctioned off online on Feb. 26. John Reznikoff, president of University Archives, expects that the typewriters owned by Kerouac and Hemingway, as well as a three 1830s patent documents for Samuel Colt’s revolving cylinder guns, will be popular among buyers. Items belonging to Andrew Carnegie, George Gershwin, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and Harry Houdini will also be part of the auction.

“I do think that the typewriters are particularly interesting,” Reznikoff said. “They kind of speak to you when you’re looking at them.”


  1. Barnard Law Collier says

    Dear Jack,

    I believe Mr. Resnikov is right.

    Over time I have asked many good writers who composed on mechanical typewriters:

    “What sort of communication do you carry on with your typewriter?”

    All but a handful said they and their typewriters were on intensely intimate terms. They affirmed that their typewriters talk, and they listen. Most described the sounds their typewriters make as “musical”.

    It may be weird, wacky, and unprofessional to claim to converse with one’s typewriter, a machine which most humans regard as non-sapient. But a non-scientific total of 80% of published writers I’ve asked said their typewriters do talk.

    I agree with them. I’d be delighted to know what Jack Kerouac’s 1930s Underwood and Ernest Hemingway’s Swedish Halma heavy portable typewriters said to their human writers, and what they may swap with one another.

    I don’t know what kind of voice the Halma had, but the voice of the Underwood under the touch of a fluent writer is still music to me.

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