For almost fifty years, Cormac McCarthy wrote his fiction on a light blue Lettera 32 Olivetti manual typewriter machine that he bought in 1963 for $50.
Last year, it was auctioned off for $254,500.
McCarthy wrote in the authentication letter, "I have typed on this typewriter every book I have written including three not yet published."
The auctioneer said that when he "grasped that some of the most complex, almost otherworldly fiction of the postwar era was composed on such a simple, functional, frail-looking machine, it conferred a sort of talismanic quality to Cormac’s typewriter. It’s as if Mount Rushmore was carved with a Swiss Army knife."
McCarthy used the machine for forty-six years and said that "it has never been serviced or cleaned other than blowing out the dust with a service station hose."
One interesting tidibit is that this transaction does not indicate that McCarthy is going to change his well-worn writing habits. Apparently, one of his friends recently "bought him a replacement typewriter, the same Olivetti model — for less than $20."
Even if you don't agree that McCarthy is a great writer, at the very least, I think it's clear that he's a great typewriter salesman.
- "Great Writer, Great Machine," in The New Yorker (Dec 2009).