Cormac McCarthy to auction his typewriter

by scotslawstudent

Cormac McCarthy's venerable typing machine
(Cormac McCarthy’s venerable typing machine)

This is a heavily worn Lettera 32 – it’s an Olivetti portable typewriter. It’s clearly seen some heavy use. I find it hard to imagine just how much use it’s seen though — about 5 million words across 7 books and numerous smaller works.

I’ve blogged about my own Olympia SG-3 earlier in the year and this is the absolute opposite end of the scale. The portable typewriter is a smaller, lighter, portable option. It’s not at all dissimilar in its intended use to the laptop of today:

(There’s a really good photo showing how a portable typewriter is used in the same way as a laptop on the BBC News site but it’s a getty image and I’m not going to risk embedding it here – BBC link)

That’s the very good thing about the portable typewriter. They really are portable. They are designed specifically to fit into a bag and be light enough to carry around. You could even get cases which allowed you to carry files, accessories, supplies along with the typewriter etc — very much like a laptop bag.

My big model sits on a desk in my room and stays there until I get someone to help me move it. In return it’s a considerable chunk of springs and gears which can do some amazing things with no more than a cunning use of gears and springs (decimal tabulation anyone?) and is pretty hard to hurt. It’s really up to the user — you wouldn’t say that a laptop is better than a desktop to type documents on. It may have different features but at the expense of portability, for example. If you only need to type notes any typewriter will do that fine.

I can’t possibly afford Cormac McCarthy’s typewriter but I think I’m content with my current typewriter altogether. It’s given me a good few months of reliable, handy service so far and long may it continue.