Yet another Ebay tale of heartbreak…

I should have known better. I have a “No Ebay” rule for a reason – because Ebay sellers rarely pay any attention at all to my packing instructions and the shipping companies seem to have a personal grudge against typewriters.

I was so excited to find this Signature 511D on Ebay that I just went ahead and broke my rule on impulse. It looked really clean and in good shape, so I even paid quite a bit more than I really wanted to. I love my little 440T, and really wanted a matched set of the Big and Little Brothers.


I even immediately sent an email to the seller with packing suggestions, which if he’d followed them, might have saved the typewriter. I received no response, but I figured the seller was probably a busy person. As long as they did pack it well and it arrived safely, they’d still get my highest recommendation despite the lack of communication.


So I’ve been waiting this past week, soaking in the good vibes of my thrift store hunting successes and highly anticipating the arrival of this fine machine. However, the box that arrived this morning held nothing but heartbreak and disappointment.


This note from the post office and the fact that they had to wrap the box in plastic wrap to keep the bits inside made my heard drop. ):

This note from the post office and the fact that they had to wrap the box in plastic wrap to keep the bits inside made my heart drop. ):

Unwrapping the box just made me hate myself for subjecting this fine machine to the cruel treatment of the postal service and the stupid, useless packing of the seller.

SAM_4653 SAM_4655 SAM_4657 SAM_4658 SAM_4659 SAM_4661 SAM_4666 SAM_4667 SAM_4668 SAM_4669

Updated: March 28, 2013 — 2:51 pm


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    I”ve got an old Adler on its way to me from Germany, and I have a real fear that this is going to arrive to me in this condition. Shame on that seller too. My seller tends to send a lot of ceramics, so I’m crossing my fingers in hope.

    That sucks. The best you can do is get someone who is an experienced plastic welder to fuse the case. The bent levers and other parts? Well… difficult to say.

    1. dunno. The carriage took a big enough hit to not only crush the right side, it broke 2 keys off the keyboard and snapped the mounting for the variable release knob, which fell out when I lifted the poor thing out of its case and hugged it close to console it.

      If you look closely at the keys, they’re all slightly bent towards the right. This thing took a hard drop on the right side for sure. It doesn’t type, the carriage is jammed and there’s lots of bits rattling around inside that shouldn’t be. There’s also about a thousand little bits of some plastic gear that fall like rain if I turn the machine upside-down. ):

      1. That’s just the deteriorated plastic from the case. Like a lot of these old things, it has lost a fair amount of its plasticiser, and is now quite brittle.

    1. Big boys don’t cry, and it’s not like it’s a super-rare or valuable machine, but now I just sit here pushing those magnificent ribbon-select buttons and admiring the solidly built shell and wonder how great a typer this probably would have, and should have been…

  2. I just end up wondering what could have happened to it. What kind of extra energy does it take to do that? Looks like the aftermath of a Michael Bay movie.

  3. Dammit!!

    I am sorry to see this. It looks like it used to be a fine machine. If the seller had used a real carton and not a flimsy one, and if there had been more padding, it would have been OK.

    I got an even worse packing job the other day. Inspired by Robert’s Brillant, I snapped one up, but the German seller put NO protection around the case, just taped it shut and slapped an address label on it. Of course the typewriter was broken. Makes me sick.

    Hope you will promptly receive a complete refund.

    1. Dang, you guys need to blog more about these sad Ebay experiences. It keeps me scared straight and away from the mean streets of the ‘bay. I get very sad thinking about how many fine typewriters have met their end in shipping, and periodically need to hear the stories to reinforce my decision.

      On the good news side, I did get a full refund after refusing the sellers first offer to have me ship it back to him at my expense for a refund. It’s amazing what the words “I will be happy to take this matter this to ebay and paypal” will do if you fully document your case. (:

  4. What a shame. That’s what happened to my Olivetti Summa Quanta ebay purchase. You’d think it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that padding and a sturdy box are musts when shipping relatively heavy vintage tech. Hope you score a replacement soon!

    1. Sorry to hear about your Quanta, I fully feel your sadness. ):

      As far as a replacement goes, I feel a certain responsibility to this poor machine. I’m going to do my best to get it working again, assuming the escapement and carriage can be un-jammed/un-bent and isn’t completely wrecked. I kind of owe it to this typer to try, if you know what I mean.

  5. Oh, I recognize that sinking feeling of receiving a crushed box that is obviously too small for real padding. I hope you can get things squared away with ebay.

    My worst recent experience was with an Erika 6 M purchased from a collector. He wrapped it well, but the postal service managed to drop it hard on its side breaking the base of the case and sending one of the metal ribbon spools bouncing merrily along the top of the machine. I think the parcel handlers must be in competition with the TSA for providing the worst customer experience.

    1. Honestly, typewriters should only be transported by armed ninjas in a bombproof iron box mounted on top of an armoured war-elephant. If we send them via parcel service, we’re really just rolling the dice.

  6. ted, that’s uncanny. I got a post slated for later today on this very subject. bad luck and comiserations. so far, this only happened to me once, if you dont include a slight split in the side of an Everest case.

  7. This horror story reminds me NEVER to buy typewriters on eBay.

    Even with a refund, this seller should get negative feedback. Why he’s got 100% is wildly beyond me, after this obviously poor packing job.

    These stories always make me so incredibly ANGRY!

    1. something to make you happy: I’ve made much progress on this machine overnight. It now types again, and I’m going to name it “Lazarus”. As of now, I can only say that if it does survive, it will be entirely due to the really amazing build quality that Brother put into these large JP2’s. Still many things broken, but the worst of it is fixed. Very easy machine to work on, design-wise.

  8. That must have been a hard knock it took. Even with aging plactic, to break a case like that. Your post and pictures made me worry a bit; this afternoon I was expecting a package bought online. Hadn’t considered how badly broken it could end up. Luckily the post was careful (again) and it arrived pretty much ok (I think). A single layer of bubblewrap and then a layer of cardboard (and tape, plenty of tape).

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