Typewriter Ribbon Tins

I’ve been reading about dead technology, things like wind-up watches, letter writing and typewriters. Then I found a link to people who collect typewriter ribbon tins. This got me thinking, it’s not just the technology or industry itself which dies but all the little things that go along with it.

I had an old typewriter, or my family did anyway. I can remember the smell of the ribbon and the tinny smell of the old typewriter itself. The ribbon was wound around two spools and would gradually wind back and forth between them until someone decided the ink had become too faded and replaced it with a new ribbon. That’s where the fancy ribbon case would come in. It would hold the fresh ribbon and spool.

Flickr: Typewriter Ribbon Tin Menagerie

As products go, what could be more banal than the lowly typewriter ribbon? In an effort to stand out from the crowd, ribbon manufacturers covered their products’ tins with colorful type and graphic elements. Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Mid-century Modern graphic design are all well represented. Some tins feature fanciful illustrations having absolutely nothing to do with typewriters, ribbons, writing, business or anything remotely connected with typing. As the industrialized culture of international business spread throughout the 1960s and 70s, soulless, bland graphics and cheap cardboard packaging took over. The tin was no more.

Collecting Typewriter Ribbon Tins – Site by Darryl C. Rehr

Uppercase Collection of Typewriter Ribbon Tins on Flickr.

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Canadian urban explorer, ASCII artist, directory editor, creative web publisher and web writer since 1996.