Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Talking about relics

Right now, for sale online, is a relic from the 20th century. It is a type writer. Not any type writer, but the one Hemingway used, and therefore it is only 100 000 dollars to buy. But what most amazed me is that it is a HALDA, Made in Sweden (of course), and exactly like one I had when I grew up. Not sure where ours is now, but this really brings back memories. I learned to type on mechanical typewriters, not even the clunky large electric ones that came later. Ah, sweet moss green Halda. Imagine Hemingway's fingers touching the buttons, slowly or fast depending on the mood. Imagine him sitting pondering what to write at a cafe in Spain or Paris, letting the sentences take shape in his head.

Hmm, but this website says that Hemingway used a Royal. Maybe he changed?
And in Sweden you can buy a similar machine online for $5! I guess what matters are the old fingerprints on the keys.

Halda has an interesting history. It was the first company for pocket watches in Sweden, founded 1887 in a place called Svängsta in SE Sweden. The watches got silver medals at the World Echibit in Chicago 1893, so they must have been pretty good. They started to make type writers at the same time. The watch making failed with time and the company went under in 1920, but a new typewriter company was born. Later it was changed into a third company, and eventually became part of AB Åtvidabergs Industrier, who made Haldas until 1957. They also owned Facit, another type writer brand that is common in Sweden. The last type writer was made in Svängsta in 1993, when the company closed down.

So, maybe this is the type writer that Hemingway typed these words on:

In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason.


O.K. said...

It is interesting how these artifacts collect so much money. It's not like the ability to write Hemingway-esque literature comes with the typewriter. But I guess this is market economy at its extreme, with the availability being one item and a possibly much larger demand.

We parted ways with the old Halda earlier this year. After being stored in a outhouse for a few decades or so, its types had rusted and were stuck. So now it is in the recycling process, hopefully becoming something useful.

The most famous company from Svängsta is ABU, manufacturer of fishing reels. It was started by a mr Borgström (?) who was laid off from Halda in the 1920's. The old ABU fishing reels are now collector's items.

Facit is usually brought up as an example of the difficulty for companies to transform when new technological breakthroughs emerge. Facit was the world leading manufacturer of mechanical calculators, but then someone invented the electronic calculator and Facit died off like a dinosaur.

LS said...

I had no idea we still had the Halda. Where do you take it to be recycled for its parts? I have a sewing machine that needs to be recycled.

Yep, market economy. It is like a historical museum piece (George Washington slept here, etc.), which inflates the value only because people care about the person, not the object per se. If this had been som unhappy, unfamous, unpublished writer's machine, nobody would have cared. On the other hand, this type writer has not been sold yet. Who knows what it would be at Sotheby's or Christie's.

For the people that are willing to spend 100 000 dollars, I say - how about helping some kids in the third world get some clean water and vaccinations instead? Or buy some land and make it into nature preserves so the McMansions doesn't take over everything. Or support a historical museum with educational activities, to spread excitement and amazement. Why spend the money on an old type writer? What Hemingway thought and wrote are all in his books anyway, not glued to this type writer. So go get your $5 old typewriter and give away 499 995 dollars to a good cause.

O.K. said...

"I had no idea we still had the Halda. Where do you take it to be recycled for its parts?"

Eh, we don't! We took it to the city dump's recycling station for it to eventually be melted down and be reborn as a good, new, world-altering contraption. :)