Taylor Swift

Typewriter Community Braces for Influx of Taylor Swift Fans Inspired by Tortured Poets Department

"I, for one, welcome our new Taylor Swift overlords."
Typewriter Community Braces for Influx of Taylor Swift Fans Inspired by Tortured Poets Department
Screengrab: Taylor Swift

In the days before the release of The Tortured Poets Department, Taylor Swift released a “lyric reveal” video where she sat at a typewriter and tapped out the words “as she was leaving it felt like breathing.” The video sent clue-starved Swifties into a frenzy, and also caught the notice of another world: The vintage typewriter community.

“Is the demand for typewriters going to skyrocket as a result of Taylor Swift’s new album?,” one Redditor asked on the r/typewriters community. 

“great. just great. The Tortured Poets Department is going to bring more into our fold,” a user posted on the Antique Typewriter Collectors Facebook group. “What do you think the new markup is going to be on our beloved mechanisms? I wonder if there’s going to be a NEW Swift Edition Typewriter that someone is going to release?” Another poster on that group wrote “Taylor’s new song is going to drive up demand for typewriters.”

“I, for one, welcome our new Taylor Swift overlords,” another Reddit thread reads. The Typewriter Talk forums, meanwhile, are eerily quiet on the subject.

This general concern hit a fever pitch after the release of the "Fortnight" music video, which features Swift and Post Malone both typing until their typewriters form some sort of Harry Potter x Voldemort-esque magical connection.

The typewriter community quickly identified the typewriter in these videos as a Royal 10, which was introduced ~1909 and continued to be sold until at least 1939, according to two online typewriter databases I found. Working versions of this typewriter have sold recently on eBay for between about $100 and $500 depending on the model and the condition (broken typewriters have sold for much less in recent days).

TTPD and promotional material for it have been full of typewriter references and images of Swift using typewriters. Swift is typing lyrics on a typewriter in the video for the single “Fortnight”, and if you searched “taylorswift” on TikTok on the album’s release day, a typewriter advertising the album would pop up. In the song “The Tortured Poets Department,” Swift sings “You left your typewriter at my apartment. Straight from the Tortured Poets Department. I think some things I never say, ‘Like who uses typewriters anyway?’” 

All of this attention has some people in the typewriter community worried about an influx of “newbs” and Swifts who could drive up the price of participating in the hobby. There are a handful of TikToks where Swifties discuss being inspired to get a typewriter or to pull out a typewriter they already owned, but there’s no evidence that the vintage typewriter community is going to be suddenly flooded with new buyers. Swift’s obsession with typewriters as visual artifacts isn’t new—she used a red typewriter in the short film she released alongside the 10-minute version of “All Too Well” and the hobby survived. Swift also sold an “All Too Well” typewriter Christmas ornament at the craft store Michaels. 

The truth is that there has been a small but dedicated vintage typewriter hobby that has had periodic small spikes in popularity every few years. When I moved to Brooklyn and got a job in journalism 13 years ago, I bought a typewriter at a thrift store, painstakingly repaired it, and used it exactly once, which feels like a phase a very specific type of too-online writer has at least once in their lives. Most brick-and-mortar typewriter stores and typewriter repair shops have closed over the last few decades, though a few specialty stores have managed to hang on and even thrive through the years

Despite some enthusiasts’ concerns, the hobby is not currently in danger of being overwhelmed. With any luck, a handful of new Swifties will get into typewriters and will instead keep it alive: “On a serious note we are buying even the most prestigious machines for quarters on the dollar of their original msrp adjusted for inflation, which is not something that most vintage collectors can say,” the Redditor who posted about “welcoming our new Taylor Swift overlords” wrote. “I enjoy sharing information and knowledge and a bunch of new enthusiasts eager to learn about these old machines are ones that I vastly prefer to the ones who will chop the keys off on old machines and use them for necklaces. A hobby survives long term not thanks to gatekeeping boomers, but by younger generations getting involved and interested.”