One weekend last month, I attended an amazing gathering so ultra-nerdy that, according to someone living with me who will remain anonymous, “it makes the World Fantasy Convention look cool.” Hmm . . . Well, I’m talking, of course, about the Annual International Gathering of Typewriter Collectors. I don’t think anyone really knows what the proper name of it is. It’s commonly referred to simply as “Herman’s” — “Are you going to Herman’s this year?” — because Herman is our gracious host, the owner of the museum where it’s held each fall, where something like nine hundred (900) rare, vintage, and antique typewriters and related paraphernalia are on display. Nearly a hundred of us gathered this time — my first time, in fact — some from as far away as Italy, South America, Toronto, and the West Coast, as well as from points all across the U.S. And it is a GATHERING!
In the above photo, to the left of the Sholes & Glidden is a replica of the Malling-Hansen Writing Ball, patented in 1870, a machine famously used by Friedrich Nietzsche.
It was a weekend filled with activity: lots of buying, selling, and trading . . . presentations on typewriter history . . . typewriter repairs and consultations . . . lively discussions . . . speed-typing contests . . . merry eating and drinking . . . a typewriter beauty contest . . . two screenings of the fantastic new documentary California Typewriter, starring typewriter enthusiast Tom Hanks . . . and best of all, the conversations, from early till quite late — the kindling and rekindling of friendships.
It was great to meet many friends I’d previously known only through correspondence.
Here’s a Hammond, the kind of typewriter that J. R. R. Tolkien particularly favored, perhaps because it doesn’t matter how hard or softly you tap the keys — you get a nice, uniform print:
The museum goes on and on . . .
And on and on . . .
Some from Japan . . .
Some pretty silly . . .
Some sillier still . . .
Some silver-plated . . .
‘Twas a wonderful time had by all.
Anyway — I had to prove to my friend Mr. Brown Snowflake that typewriters don’t hinder blogging at all. Sometimes they provide grist. We had fun taking some into my wife’s classrooms, too, for students to use in creative writing assignments:
Then there were the poems-on-demand I typed for customers on the spot at the recent local BookFest:
I may not manage to post as often as in the old days, but I’m still here. The lights are on, and there’s coffee.