Interest in typewriter-ribbon tins grows


December 27, 1992|By Anita Gold | Anita Gold,Contributing Writer

A hot collectible "type" you might want to tap into are the numerous square, round, oblong, rectangular and triangular-shaped colorful typewriter-ribbon tins that were once mass produced. These tins were made from the late 1800s through 1960s, later replaced with the more familiar and blah-looking cardboard and plastic packs we know today.

The earliest typewriter-ribbon tins were flat in order to hold ribbons that didn't come on spools because, at the time, spools on typewriters were not removable. These flat tins are most desirable. If you find a Remington brand ribbon example dating from the 1890s, measuring 1-by-4-by-one-fourth of an inch, pat yourself on the back, for such a tin has a value of $25 in decent condition. Such early flat tins held ribbons that measured about 1 1/2 inches wide.

There were thicker tins that were made to hold such flat, 1 1/2 -inch-wide ribbons too, but these are somewhat less desirable than the earlier thinner examples. Almost all other tins held ribbons measuring one-half inch wide and, since 1900, this has been the standard size.

The early flat tins and thicker ones have a higher collectors' value of $15 to $30, whereas the value for the standard later tins (worth less than the earlier examples) depends upon the tin's artwork, the brand's subject matter, attractiveness, advertising, scarcity and so on.

Although the earlier tins usually pictured a typewriter, the later, more attractive and artistic examples were far more decorative.

Says typewriter tin collector and expert Darryl Rehr, "Pricing for ribbon tins is strictly arbitrary. Usually, the more interesting the picture, the higher the price of the tin," although their commonness may not justify it. "For instance, the very attractive 'Panama' series of tins, showing airplanes and maps of Panama, are often overpriced since they are among the most common tins to be found," he says.

For information regarding collectible typewriters and ribbon tins, write the Early Typewriter Collectors Association in care of Darryl Rehr, 2591 Military Ave., Los Angeles, Calif. 90064, enclosing $15 for an annual membership. The fee includes a subscription to ETCetera magazine, which features a regular "Ribbon Tin Roundup" column for collectors.

Write to Anita Gold at the Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611. The mail volume precludes a personal response.

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