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Collecting vintage typewriters: Anthony Casillo interview


Anthony Casillo’s book showcases 80 of his own machines

Anthony Casillo – who goes by Tony and is interviewed in the latest AbeBooks podcast – is the author of Typewriters: Iconic Machines from the Golden Age of Mechanical Writing. Tony repairs typewriters, collects typewriters and sells typewriters. His book features 80 of his own typewriters, manufactured between 1874, the very early days of typewriters, and 1969, when offices across the world rang to the rhythmic sound of typewriters.

Tony’s book is a visual homage to the golden age of the typewriter, covering the development of the QWERTY keyboard to mass produced portable machines. His descriptions explain the history and significance of each machine, and the companies behind them. The photography charts the development of the technology into machines we now recognize.

The Oliver from 1896

Bruce Curtis supplied the photography and Tom Hanks (yes, that Tom Hanks, an avid typewriter collector) provided a foreword, featuring 11 reasons to use a typewriter and he does mention the words “chick magnet”.

Our podcast interview covers Ian Fleming’s gold typewriter, the problems of carrying typewriters home on the subway, how antique machines are repaired, and the fascination that young people have with typewriter technology.

Find copies of Typewriters: Iconic Machines from the Golden Age of Mechanical Writing.

Tony’s website offers a wealth of information about his career. He has been in the typewriter industry for more than 40 years and describes how it all began.

My first experience with an antique typewriter, or any antique for that matter, took place in the late 1970s.  While employed as a repairman for a typewriter company in New York City, I discovered an old, dusty Oliver typewriter.  It was sitting on a shelf in a back storage room where neglected and unwanted typewriters were kept.  With a dark green painted body, three rows of keys and its type sitting high above the carriage, it was unlike any typewriter I had ever seen.

The Lambert from 1907 – it resembles a rotary telephone
The Royal Standard from 1906 – a machine that became hugely successful
The Olivetti Graphica from 1957 – only 8,000 were created.
The Princess 300 – collectors estimate less than 20 exist today
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