Jamie Ford, NYT bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, is the buyer of Harlan Ellison’s historic old typewriter, reported for sale here in December.
Ford tells how it happened in his blog post “Rendering Unto Caesar”:
So…when I heard that Harlan was selling his first typewriter, I was curious. As was the Wall Street Journal who asked, “Would you pay $40,000 for an antique typewriter?”
There was a lot of hubbub—especially with Cormac McCarthy selling his for a staggering $220,000. (Which, as I understand it, was actually purchased by a collective of buyers, who then donated it to charity for the tax-breaks. Not exactly like buying a Picasso, but still, a princely sum).
But with the urging of that Oracle of Delphi, known as my wife, I decided to buy the darn thing. No, I didn’t pay anywhere near $40,000. Let’s just say I paid somewhere between my first-born and a pack of Chicklets. Besides, in the end I got the impression from Harlan that it was more important whom he sold it to, rather than how much.
Ford isn’t planning for this historical artifact to gather dust on a shelf. He’s thinking of making it the symbol of a “Harlan Ellison in Residence” scholarship at one of the writing programs where Harlan has taught over the years, the typewriter to be loaned to that year’s recipient:
They wouldn’t have to write on it, but would be asked to type a little something, leaving it in the typewriter for next year’s recipient.
Passed on, like the President’s Book of Secrets, but real.
And with more swearing.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]