Earlier this month, the Outlook Traveller office echoed with the clickety-clack of a vintage typewriter—a beautiful Olympia Traveller Deluxe. Turns out someone had ordered it online—for the sake of vintage collectibles and the revival of an old-school writing habit. The clamour that filled the space as travel stories took shape evoked a strange sense of nostalgia. Strange, because I personally did not use a typewriter when they were in their prime; I was born in the desktop PC era. The nostalgia stems from memories of seeing my grandfather merrily type away on his Brother Deluxe 550TR portable. I never liked the clunky device and its mechanism—the keys hammering away at afragile ribbon to leave imprints of words on paper. But oddly enough, I took to it after he passed on and unwittingly bequeathed it to the writer in me a few years ago.

An Olivetti Lettera 32 portable typewriter from 1963
An Olivetti Lettera 32 portable typewriter from 1963

Nostalgia aside, it’s very much an Instagram trend these days to type poetry (or what passes for poetry) on a variety of parchment and post digital pictures of it for strangers’ approval. No wonder then that these contraptions of yesteryear—the Remingtons, Olivettis, Olympias, and Brothers—are selling like hot cakes in all their refurbished glory on e-commerce sites. For instance, this Olivetti Lettera 32 (circa 1963), a comfortable portable machine that followed the popular Lettera 22, can be acquired for anything between $60 and $495 on the Internet today (An interesting tidbit—Cormac McCarthy is reported to have written all his fiction on one such machine, which was auctioned for $254,500). I’d scoff at the irony of buying typewriters on a touchscreen,
but one of these has brought some much welcome old-world charm to this travelling circus of ours.