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Friday 10 February 2012

Oh What a Night! (For Typewriter Sales)

Last night was one of those memorable nights for me in bidding for typewriters on Australian eBay.
I was working, but was nonetheless determined to find the time during my shift to bid on three typewriters, all coming to the end of their auctions within the space of about three hours. I was budgeting on spending between $800-$900 all up. As it turned out, I spent only $300, and won only one of the three auctions.
But it was, in my opinion, a great win to have, easily the most important item on the agenda: a Caligraph.
First up was a Royal Junior, and given my interest in portables of this era, I was keen to get it. It looked in pretty good condition, with the decals in good shape.
It stayed at the starting price of $9.99 for a long time, then in the hours before the end of the auction the price crept up to $60. In a flurry of bidding right at the end, the price shot up to $113, then $180. I bid $180, but someone else had got in before me at that price.
At the time this happened, I said to my work colleagues - who were all taking a great interest and eagerly cheering me on in my endeavours to add to my 900-odd typewriters - that I confidently expected a "second chance offer". The way the price had suddenly reached $180 suggested to me that someone had bid very high without expecting the price to go that far. It was an inexperienced eBayer, with just six feedbacks.
Sure enough, this morning the seller was on to me offering the machine at a "Buy it Now" price of $180. The auction winner couldn't pay. And I'm not biting. It worries me that someone saw me coming ...
The second typewriter off the blocks was the Caligraph. It didn't look to be in fabulous condition - many keytops appear to be missing - but I saw the potential there for a worthwhile restoration. And, as I said in an earlier post, a Caligraph was high up on my wish list.
The starting price was 99c and early on in the piece it reached over $200. There was no further bidding until the last few seconds. I won it for $307.
It will be on its way to me next Tuesday. I can see a lot of work ahead of me, but I feel confident it will be looking super special come the big typewriter exhibition in Canberra, starting on July 14.
My friend Thomas Fehring in the US had noted the Caligraph on my wish list and was kind enough to alert me to one for sale on American eBay (above). It sold for $640, with just the one bidder, on February 2.
There appears to be another available on eBay (above), with a "Buy it Now" price of $750. Not sure if it is in the US or not.
I think what I've won, despite the lack of some keytops and decals, is reasonable value in these circumstances. 
I was much more confident about winning the third machine coming up for sale last night than I was about the other two. It was an Imperial Good Companion and it had stayed at the starting price of $20 until the last few seconds.
Having saved money by not winning the Royal Junior, and winning the Caligraph for about $300 less than I feared I might have to pay, I thought I was in with a very good chance for the Imperial. But suddenly at the death a new eBayer, with just eight feedbacks, jumped in with a winning bid of $109.50.
Oh well, sad is life ... at least I can now (at least I hope I can) strike Caligraph off my wish list. I look forward to seeing it in the metal next week, and I shall keep you posted .... In the meantime, any restoration tip would be appreciated.


Adwoa said...

Congratulations! That looks like a worthwhile buy. All the best for the restoration - it should be a challenging project and I look forward to seeing the results, particularly how you tackle the problem of missing keys...

notagain said...

I had a bid in on a Remington Portable on the other night. It jumped from 53 to over 100 dollars US in the last few seconds.

Richard P said...

Congratulations, the Caligraph will be an excellent piece for your exhibit!

Notice the silly mainspring -- that long spring wound around the shaft that runs from front to back ont the bottom of this machine. Silly because this arrangement requires very high tension on the spring to keep the carriage moving. Often these springs break on Caligraphs. Just a word to the wise.