Underwood Typewriter

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Underwood Typewriter Model 6-11 bUnderwood Typewriter – Elegance In Typing

The Underwood Typewriter was created through the genus of a German-American inventor named Franz X. Wagner and the first underwood typewriter was produced for the Wagner Typewriter Company.  The actual “Underwood” name comes from John T. Underwood, who was funding and eventually purchased Wagner’s company early in its history.

The first production typewriter was produced in 1865 and went into full production in 1870.  It was created by Rev. Rasmus Malling-Hansen of Denmark.  He invented what was referred to as the Hansen Writing Ball.  It look nothing like what people refer to as a typewriter, looking more spherical in shape.

In 1874, Underwood started a manufacturing company producing ribbon and carbon paper and one of their clients was  E. Remington and Sons.  When Remington started producing ribbons and carbon paper themselves, Underwood made the jump into the typewriter business funding the Wagner Typewriter Company, which eventually became Underwood. In the 1960’s the company was sold to Olivetti, but the story of the Underwood typewriter continues.

Underwood Typewriter Model 6-11The first typewriters produced under Wagner/Underwood where in 1896 and 1900,  these early typewriters had “Wagner Typewriter Co.” printed on the back.  When looking for Underwood Typewriters, finding a model # 1 or 2 is an amazing find indeed.  There were only about 12,000 of these models produced, so they are very rare.  Later versions, like the one I purchased (Model 6-11), were made in the early 1930’s can be found for $50-$200 depending on condition.  My fiance (Kathleen), purchased mine for $50, which is a heck of a deal considering the condition it was in.

Shown in this article is the Underwood typewriter model 6-11.  The number 6 and 11 are displayed to the left and right of the Underwood logo.

Underwood Typewriter – Determining Age and Value

The Underwood typewriters are the quintessential antiques for collectors. Millions of Underwood typewriters were produced in the early 20th century. The least common among these are the Underwood No. 1 and No. 2 models. Roughly 12,000 No. 1 and No. 2 models where made between 1896 and 1900. Underwood Models No. 3, 4, and 5 were produced between 1900 – 1932.

Determining the age and model number can be really important when trying to figure out price and how much the typewriter might be worth.

Underwood typewriters came in two forms, open frame and closed frame. Open frame simply means that your able to see the inner workings of the typewriter. If it’s closed frame, the mechanical mechanisms are closed from view and covered by a sheet of metal. The Open-framed underwood typewriters date from 1900 to the 1930s. There counter parts, closed frame models, were produced from the 1930’s onward.

The Underwood typewriters used various serial numbers to distinguish the various years and makes. The serial number should be located under the typewriter’s carriage.

  • 1900 – 100
  • 1901 – 1000
  • 1903 – 10000
  • 1904 – 50000
  • 1905 – 100000
  • 1906 – 150000
  • 1907 – 200000
  • 1909 – 1912 – 247500 and 450000
  • 1913 – 1917 – 551000 and 940000
  • 1918 – 1925 – 1050000 to 1910000
  • 1925 – 1931 – 2070000 to 3825000

When inspecting the Underwood typewriter, make sure the typewriter performs as expected, that is unless you want it for show and don’t care if it functions.  I picked up this Underwood typewriter for $50, but had to spend an extra $50 to get it in good working order.

The problem I ran into was the carriage strap that connects to the motor was made from cotton that probably had deteriorated, torn and probably fell off.  The old typewriter models almost always have issues with these at some point during their life span.   Sometimes it is as simple as reattaching the strap.  Other times, you can sew torn straps back together.  In my case the carriage strap was completely missing.   You may be able to rig something up that would work, but it sometimes is a crap shoot.

Next time your out on your Antique Outing, look for an Underwood Typewriter, you may find a great deal on one.

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I share a passion for collecting all things vintage and antique and love to share that passion with others.

38 Comments

  1. Elsa Gonzalez on

    Hi, I’m just curious about a typewriter I found which my dad found at a yard sale for 15 bucks. It’s S.N appears to be 516 550 and is actually well kept. Some of the paint is beginning to chip but it appears to just need a bit of oiling, and a new ink cartridge thing. It even comes with the case! All I appear to find is the approximate year it was made. Is there any way to find out more information about it?

    Should I risk trying to getting it to work again, or get someone who knows about these things? It’s beautiful.

  2. I have an old Underwood Typewriter — I think it’s the Model 6-11 based on the 5 keys that are located at the top center of the main keys. Unfortunately, the serial # and other information has bee “whited out” and I can’t read a thing. This typewriter has been in my family for at least 60 years — my dad is 88 and we just cleaned out his house and found it. I use to play on it when I was a little girl. Wondering it’s worth. All the parts still work. I have two pictures.

    • Tom Crandall on

      Hi Jane,

      These typewriters typically go for $50 – $200. It really depends on who sees it and how much they want to pay. Prices seem to be all over the place since there are still so many around.

      Post some pictures, we would love to see them.

      Cheers

      Tom

      • This boyfriend of mine we were cleaning out his loft barn. We’ll he gave me this Champion Underwood typewriter still in old case, and it has all the ribbon. It is so old. Cannot read the serial no. But the only thing that kinda shows up is the name Elliott Underwood on the back.

  3. John Redgrave on

    I have a Underwood and the serial number: 441 3453 12. I would like to know what could it sale for?

  4. I just foud a 1905 typewriter in working condition for $10 at a thrift store it has the letter A in serial number…what is A for (A79776)?
    How much would this typewriter be worth? It has a key for red or black ribbon….
    All of the keys are in working and readable

    • Tom Crandall on

      The easiest way I have found to determine price on these typewriters is by searching Ebay and looking for similar models that have sold. Underwood Typewriters that are Model 6 or earlier will sell for around $75-$200. It really depends on the condition of the typewriter and if it is in working condition or not.

      I have a Model 6 and could probably sell it for $125 – $150 based on it’s condition. If I fix it up so that it is in perfect working order, it might sell for $175 – $200.

      Older typewriters will sell for $60 – $100 if they are in good shape. People looking to buy these usually don’t care if they are in working order, they are generally buying them to spice up a room or office.

  5. Hi Tom, we have an old underwood that is in good condition. All appears to work and inside the cover case on the back is a warranty saying it was sold 8/12/1930. Is ebay the only way to go for selling it? Definitely not interested in Craig’s list. Too many scammers
    Thanks for any help.

  6. I have an Underwood but the on number I found underneath was 25. How do I found out more about it? It doesn’t exactly look like any of the pics.

    • Tom Crandall on

      Hi Tanya,

      The easiest thing I have found to do is search for it on Ebay, Craigslist and Etsy and see what other people have found. A lot of times people will have already done the research for you.

  7. Hi! I have an underwood 11 typewriter it works great. I’m going to clean it and oil it. The serial number is 4082453-11 I can post a pic of needed. What do you think I can sell this for?

  8. I have my Dad’s underwood typewriter serial number 4410910-11 i’m tying to find any info on this typewriter
    Thanks

  9. Tommy Thompson on

    Tom,
    Your page has very helpful. I have spent a little time over the years trying to determine just what I had. Now I know. It would seem our machines are siblings. I know now that it is an Underwood model 6 11 and is in reasonably good shape. The serial number, 4053816-11, would indicate it was made in the 1930’s. And low and behold the carriage strap just came off; it had been attached to the carriage and I was trying to see where the other end went. Since I got it 25 years ago for only 25 cents at a closed box auction, I think I’ll hold on to it for a while longer. Unless you would like to offer me a couple of grand for it. Haha.

    Tommy

  10. I have an old Underwood typewriter I would like to sell if you’re interested I can send you pictures please let me know by email

  11. I have an Underwood, the logo has Made in Canada under it and a red label on the front, saying Underwood, Elliott Fisher Limited, Toronto, Ontario.
    The serial number is 4110010-11. It is shiny black with glass topped keys, 4 decimal keys and so I am guessing it is a #6, early 30s but I can’t find anything about Underwoods being made in Canada.
    Another small interesting label that it has on the typewriter’s left side, written in black caps on a gold background:
    “This typewriter was rebuilt according to the specifications contained in Administrator’s order no A-394 of the War Time Prices and Trade Board
    Underwood Elliott Fisher Limited
    Makers of Underwood Typewriters
    Head Office. 135 Victoria Street. Toronto. Canada”
    Can you tell me where I would find history on this one? Thanks so much!

    • I would perform various Google searches on the words you see on the typewriter. That is normally what I do to start to dig into the history of antiques. I don’t have any books on the Underwood, so you will have to rely on doing a bit of digging. It can be rather fun because you never know what you will run across that might lead you down a road you didn’t expect.

  12. Hi Tom. I recently got the same typewriter an my carriage strap is there but deteriorated. What do suggest I do to fix it?

    • Hi Madi,

      I would suggest seeing if anyone in your town fixes Typewriters. Believe it or not there are a few people that do that sort of thing and even work on the older stuff.

  13. Hi.
    I have a Underwood Noiseless Portable.In a original case.
    In the back it says Underwood Elliot Fisher CO, and there´s also a Nr: 672757.

    The letters are in Swedish. With Swedish text!

    Can you tell how old it is and how much its worth??

    Best Ulrika

  14. i have a 1923 underwood no.5 Serial no. 1662065-5

    Can you point me to a buyer or would you like to buy it? It is in good working condition with its ribbon.

  15. Can anyone help my find what year my typewriter is. It’s an Underwood G853074 open frame with 4 rows of keys. What does the G mean? It seems a little smaller than other ones I’ve seen in the past. Would this mean it’s considered a portable. Thanks for your help!

  16. I found an Underwood #5 limited edition in the trash at work. The keys are glass but looks like someone had used masking tape cut up into little pieces to replace the letters/numbers on the keys. Ribbon looks good. Not tattered or brittle but keys get stuck when you strike them and ribbon will tangle. Also, it’s an open model. Can you give me a rough idea of what this would be worth in this condition? I took one of the pieces of brittle tape off one of the keys which revealed a blank key. I’d like to try and sell it on our local 24 hour auction site. I can’t seem to come up with a starting bid.
    Can you help? If this is important too, some of the paint for the name on the bottom is chipping.

  17. Hello! I think i have a No. 2 because of its Wagner Typewriter Co.” printed on the back. The maschine has German Letters. I did not find it on ebay. Any Idea what it is worth?

    Many Thanks
    Bj

  18. I have a Underwood Elliott Fisher LTD Toronto Canada – has a red seal on front– glass buttons –say A-394 wartime price –on the paper size measurment it reads 1895-1923 – there is ribbon bobbins with ribbin in it On the back there is a number #748? Do not know anything about this typerwriter bought it for $5.00 at a yard sale over 27 years ago even had a meatal stand that came with it—–if anyone could tell me want this typerwriter is worth –also comes with a dust cover that says Underwood

  19. I have a underwood typewriter with serial # 206143 in full working condition. Can you tell me what model it is? Also is it worth anything?

  20. I have a very nice Remington Portable Typewriter, the latest patent number on it is 1926. AS few very tiny paint chips, but all chrome shiny, buttons clean and white, no rust, no guck, works well, types very clear and clean. . In original case, too, Case in fine condition, Please send offers to Maria M, PO>Box 5 Bible School Park, NY 13737

  21. Hi Tom. I have an Underwood Elliott Fisher typewriter. The serial number seems to be 2127303-5. It is possible the 1 is actually a separation line as it appears elongated. I have done some searching but cannot find anything with a -5 at the end. Can you help with a possible date?

  22. Kimberly Hall on

    Tom-
    First may I say -Great page! I am very new to the world of Underwood Typewriters and have just acquired my first. From what I can google it appears to be an Underwood Noiseless Standard size (not portable) from cir 1935-1940. She is in need of a lot of TLC and am looking forward to cleaning her up. Any suggestions of what to do or better yet what NOT to do? also is there a better way to find the manufacture date? I’ve looked in several sites and it’s a large window of dates and nothing for my specific serial number.

    Thanks in advance for any guidance.
    Best!

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