Monday, 14 June 2010


I wasn’t going to share this in case you lot push the price up and scupper my bid but Christie’s in New York is auctioning Jack Kerouac’s last typewriter on 22 June 2010. As you can instantly tell, it’s a Hermes 3000 manual typewriter (model no. 3337316) and comes in its original protective case, with cleaning implements, and is in good working condition. It sells itself but if you need convincing here’s some auctioneering guff:

“Kerouac’s last typewriter, which he used from 1966 until his death in 1969. He announces its arrival in a 29 August 1966 letter to his agent, Sterling Lord: "How do you like my new typewriter?" The new machine "was necessary," he explains, "as the old one broke in two, but, and that's what broke my budget, and now it'll be taxes." Lord received many letters from this machine about Kerouac's money problems: "Where are the ROAD royalties to 6/30/66," he asks on 18 January 1967, "and same royalties (6/30/66) for SUR... Great time of stress. Need money to fence-in magnificent part wooded yard." He also hoped to build a study "where I'll be writing VANITY OF DULUOZ in month of March after Greek Orthodox Church wedding in February" (to Stella Sampas). Vanity was published in 1968. It would be the last novel published in his lifetime. His novella Pic would appear in 1971. This typewriter had to make a visit to the repairman in January 1969. The repairman's receipt for $22.83 (which survives in the Kerouac Papers), diagnoses the problem as "Dropped." The Kerouac Papers also contain the Hermes operating manual for this typewriter.”

The estimated sale price is $20,000-$30,000 but I’d bet my old rucksack it goes for way more than that. Christie’s have a few other pieces including a rather splendid 1959 painting Jack produced of Cardinal Montini (later Pope Paul VI) which hung in his (Jack’s not the Pope’s) house. I don’t know the circumstances to the auction but I’m guessing it’s going to further feather the Sampas family nest.

I’m off to rummage down the back of the sofa for chump change.


  1. The typewriter sold (not to me) for $22,500.

  2. I re-posted this on Twitter and saved the photo on my screen saver. It's the greatest thing I've seen today so far except for the little girl who wrote her name on a rock and left it under a tree this morning. Anyhow, kudos.

  3. Cheers Stephanie. It sure is a thing of beauty.