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Wednesday 15 February 2012

The Lucky Typewriter Country

Here I sit, on a cool, wet summer’s evening, cozy and comfy, as Richard Polt might say. I’m in one quite large chair, surrounded by gorgeous typewriters – all I’m missing is the Reverend McCann’s log fire.

Yet instead of feeling cozy, why am I slightly uncomfortable?
Well, quite apart from having a pain in the back of the hand to match Archer’s (from typing too much about Archer; actually it’s an old rugby injury), I’m getting twinges of guilt.
Compared to what it would be like to live in some other places, I consider myself well situated. And here I am bemoaning the rising cost of typewriters in Australia. I should be ashamed of myself.
Let me try to explain:
Tonight it was revealed Canberra has moved up from 47th to 34th place among the world’s most expensive cities to live. But I still consider myself better off than many.
This placing on the "expensive cities" list, it turns out, is based on the super healthy Australia dollar. Which means it's possible to look at it from an entirely different angle: If one is buying items from overseas, items which aren't produced in this country, the cost of living could be said to be cheaper.
And what would I buy from overseas? That's right: typewriters.
Australia’s other mainland capital cities are all in the world's Top 20 most expensive cities, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s latest findings. Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth all rank ahead of London, New York, Rome, Los Angeles, Berlin and Hong Kong. Sydney is 7th, Melbourne 8th, Perth 13th, Brisbane 14th and Adelaide 18th.
The report’s editor, Jon Copestake, pointed out that the cost of a loaf of bread in Sydney had almost doubled in the past 10 years, while petrol had risen threefold. The survey compared the price of more than 400 items - including food, clothing, rent, transport, utility bills and recreational costs.
But, incredibly, not typewriters! Which means what Copestake wasn't able to say is that the cost of typewriters has quadrupled in eight years. Which, it could further be reasoned, means the value of typewriter has quadrupled (and that might explain why so many people are buying typewriters in Australia right now).
Copestake blamed the strong Australian dollar. “Exchange rates have been the greatest influence for the Australian cost of living, with the Australian dollar seeing its value to the US dollar double in a decade.”
The days of $5 typewriters at Canberra’s recycling centres and op-ships have long since gone. Yet this vastly improved exchange rate - 100 per cent higher - means we can buy typewriters from the US and Europe at far better prices (including shipping) than ever before.
So based on Copestake’s exchange rate theory, when one factors in typewriter purchases, Australian capitals should, by rights, be slipping down the list of expensive cities.
Take, by way of contrast, the situation with my good friends in Switzerland: Georg, Adwoa and Florian. Because the Swiss franc has emerged as a haven currency amid the eurozone crisis, currency-related cost pressures are applying. For the first time in 20 years, Zurich outranks Tokyo as the world’s most expensive city. Switzerland, like Australia, has two cities in the Top 10.
Meanwhile, Moody’s has placed negative outlooks on France, Britain and Austria.
We used to call this, with our fine sense of irony, “The Lucky Country”. Now, in all honesty, we should call it “The Lucky Typewriter Country”. Roll on $US1.10 to the $A1 ...
Convoluted reasoning? Maybe, but it should make perfectly good sense to a typewriter collector. Stay positive in this global financial crisis, that's what I say!


Miguel Chávez said...

What an amazing collection, and all of them look to be in pristine condition! I know what you mean; I consider myself fortunate that in my country, Mexico, typewriter collecting is not precisely common, so, by the basic laws of supply and demand, we can still find good typewriters here that sell for less than 50 USD. And some are even cheaper; my latest project, a big IBM model D electric, cost me 16 USD and a scraped wrist (those are heavy!)

shordzi said...


Fer Andrade said...

Great collection! I like the little plastic typewriter (yellow) that is in the corner of the photo!

Adwoa said...

Great post! Although you had me at the first photo of the pink typewriters all together; I swooned :-)

Indeed, the financial crisis has interesting repercussions for us all and it remains to be seen how they affect typewriter prices locally. I am not taking advantage to purchase abroad, though, since unlike you we do not have so much space! The disadvantage of living in an expensive city is that space is at a premium, predictably.

I have noticed local prices slowly inching up, but I am not too concerned yet - if they stayed low I would be tempted to buy, so I am just glad other people are giving them good homes! This is happening more online, but I am curious to get out this summer and see how the usual flea market supply stacks up.

Cameron said...


Do you have any rooms without any typewriters in them? ;-)

Amazing. Totally amazing.