What a $250,000 Vintage Typewriter Looks Like

Jan 6, 2010 by

This humble Olivetti Lettera 32 sold in December at a Christie’s auction for more than $250,000.  Was it the chipped blue paint or the serial number of this vintage typewriter that garnered six figures?  No, it was the five million words typed on this lovely writing machine by Cormac McCarthy, Pulitzer Prize author of novels such as The Road, No Country for Old Men, Blood Meridian, and All the Pretty Horses.

McCarthy purchased the vintage Olivetti typewriter in 1963 for $50 at a Tennessee pawn shop, and his loyalty to the writing machine was steadfast; he wrote every single one of his novels — all five million words over 50 years — on this typewriter.  The original Christie’s estimate pegged the typewriter at $15,000 to $20,000, but the final hammer fell at more than ten times the estimate!

What will McCarthy now use for his literary inspirations?  Is he upgrading to a Mac Airbook or will he be opting for a PC?  Or will he stay true and loyal to the trustworthy writing machine?  Indeed, McCarty will continue to compose his masterpieces on an Olivetti typewriter.  In fact, his friend has already purchased him a suitable replacement, which cost a prohibitive $11.

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  1. This is SUCH a cool story! I love items with such history and meaning (though not such a steep price tag). Imagine owning that typewriter! I almost feel as though something like that should be a museum so everyone can see it – a great writer like McCarthy and his works belong to the people!

  2. this is a fantastic post! i love the story and the fact that he got an $11 replacement :)

  3. wow! maybe one day I’ll be famous and sell my typewriters for $25,000. I better start writing…

  4. oh snap … i only had $249,999.99! i’m sure he’ll churn out something great on that $11 version and who knows how much it will sell for.

  5. Wow this reminds me of those old antique shows. To be honest I would picture this type writer being older than that.
    Great post!!!


  6. I wonder who purchased the typewriter. Must have been a HUGE fan. Great story Grace.

  7. what a fun story! i love a little history lesson :)

  8. I read that he bought an identical replacement on- line for something like 50 bucks!

  9. I got my little 5 year old girl a vintage typewriter Smith-Corona silent super and the whole family has been lovin’ it.

    This typewriter takes the cake. I love Cormac. I wish I could just type “I love Cormac.” on it one time. That would be so cool.

  10. I think that is an interesting point, it made me think a bit. Thanks for sparking my thinking cap. Sometimes I get so much in a rut that I just feel like a record.

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