04 July 2012

Keychoppers! And My Plight.

As we know, fictional works and common imagination sometimes address the possibility of soulless ghouls who take on human appearance and feast on our flesh. This is clearly nonsense, but something similar does exist. They are called "keychoppers". They prowl around looking for typewriters to destroy. They do not dismantle typewriter to fix other typewriters, but to use their parts, most often the keys, for jewelry nobody wears and which is indistinguishable from replica pieces. They even pride themselves on destroying real typewriters!

Apparently, they can get higher prices for jewelry. Jewelry is overpriced. A case in point: pearls come in several grades. The lowest grades of which cost only a penny or less per pearl. Even the highest grades of pearls are not that expensive. Maybe half a dollar per pearl. But pearl jewelry under glass costs $99 at a minimum. Pearl necklaces use string (bought by the spool), and a clasp of some sort (even gold or sterling silver clasps are inexpensive, maybe a dollar or two). So for less than $5 of parts, one can get massive profit...and nobody is the wiser. Keychoppers generally only use a few keys or just one per piece of "jewelry". If they get 30 keys from a typewriter, that is 30 potential pieces of jewelry. Even if each piece sells for $20, they can get a massive profit from a single butchered typewriter. If a typewriter with attractive keys goes on eBay, keychoppers have the financial resources and motivation to bid way more than what most collectors think is reasonable.

Perhaps it would be good if the market for keys were flooded with picture perfect replicas, which would make going through the trouble of destroying an old typewriter less economical.

But in the meantime, I want to sell two Corona 3 typewriters. They are featured on this blog:

I use my other, older, Corona 3, and I need money. Incidentally, I also need a different scanner so I cannot make any proper posts until I get one. I updated my operating system (actually, I changed GNU/Linux distributions, but that is another story), and the Epson drivers for the scanner are wonky. If anybody wants an Epson Stylus NX230 in very lightly used condition (I rarely printed anything, and mostly scanned with it), I will trade it for nearly anything I can use. I cannot use the Epson now. It will go on Craigslist later. This week, my work is closed. I get paid by the hour...so I have time, but also a need for cash too.

I can list most things on eBay or Craigslist without issues, but I do not want to list these Coronas, especially since I would be asking for relatively little for the one which is not working well. If anybody wants one, or both, let me know. The closer you are to Pennsylvania, the cheaper it would be to ship. I am looking for around $30 for the one which needs work and $100 for the one which works. Keep in mind the working one is not restored. Its rubber is not as soft as it once was, but it can be used for typing and paper feeds and advances.

I know if I listed them on eBay together for around $200, they would sell, potentially and likely to a collector, but I am not keen on taking that risk.

For a coming post, I think I am ready to do my post about the Skyriter. I have all the models I know about throughout its history, plus both Corona Zephyr models, and an example of a post-Skyriter design. That is a lot of photographing for me, but since I have the time, and cannot scan anything, I do not think I have an excuse for putting it off more. That not working but attractive Corona Zephyr Deluxe will also be available, just for the cost of shipping, and it too is a keychopper risk.


  1. I have a friend, actually 2 of them, who make jewelry; out of stones and gold and silver and would never think of making the chinksy stuff that I see on line. Nor do they ever think of typewriter key jewlry. They look at it as cheap junk no one wants more than to save a typewriter though. As long as they do not use typewriters I support them. These fellows actually make things like seen in expensive stores and sell it out of their own stores at much better prices.

    I anxiously await the Skyriter post. I presently have a collection of 3 Skyriters. One with the stripes, one with the 2 color green keys and one with all emerald green keys. I think they are all early to mid 1950 ones. Excellent typewriters.

    I also have an old non working Corona 3 I bought just so a keychopper could not get it. It will be used for parts if I ever get a Corona-3.

    I'm not familiar with that particular Epson. I think Eposn has a patch on their site for using their scanners on Linux. I have not had problems with Ubuntu or Mageia and my Epson printers/scaners. I hope things work out for you.

    1. I make things similar to jewelry (hence, my familiarity with actual value, etc).

      Jewelry making itself is fine with me. It is just something to demonstrate what we are up against. A good condition Corona Zephyr found in a basement somewhere is probably worth like $30, tops. And only worth something to people who are interested in such things. However, a keychopper could potentially get hundreds of dollars in profit from using the keys of that typewriter. This pits the passion of typewriter fans against the financial interests of the keychoppers. Very unfortunate development.

      I think the two tone green key typewriters are from 1949 to 1954. The all green one is after that.

      They are a great model. It is a good thing I choose to be interested in such small machines.

      Do you want the Corona 3 I have that somewhat works? It has carriage issues which I think are related to the missing backspace lever. You may be able to put one on easily (I do not know!). The carriage advances and such, although it is not all right.

      What version of Ubuntu are you using?