Lovecraft owned and used the same Remington typewriter all his life. In 1975 L. Sprague De Camp called it a… “1906 Remington”. He went on to say that…
“When it wore out, he had it rebuilt. But this occured only at long intervals, since he could only rarely afford such costly repairs.”
S.T. Joshi tells us in A Dreamer and a Visionary: H.P. Lovecraft in his time that the typewriter was a… “rebuilt 1906 Remington” and that… “he purchased it with his own money in 1906”. In I Am Providence, this is “the 1906 Remington” (p.57) and some pages further on it is mentioned as “rebuilt”.
Donald Clarke’s A Life of Fantasy and Horror: H.P. Lovecraft gives us the date of delivery, which he presumably has from the letters…
“On July 6, 1906, Lovecraft received a used Remington typewriter.”
So, “rebuilt”, “used”? He appears to have had it rebuilt later in his life. But was it really used when he purchased it? Could one have purchased a used 1906 Remington in 1906? Or was it a new 1906 model that he later had rebuilt when he could afford it?
One solution to this conundrum may be that used machines were common. Busy telegraphy or typing-agency offices in New York would no doubt hammer the machines for six months and then discard them for new ones, selling them to refurbishers to fit a new platen and keys. That way it could still have been both a 1906 model and rebuilt to be sold used to Lovecraft in July 1906.
This is the sort of ad he might have purchased from, which is from 1905 and shows a Remington.
So let’s assume that it was possibly a 1905 or 1906 model Remington Standard. They all seem to have looked much the same anyway. So much so, that one wonders if there were even some dubious refurbishers who sold last year’s Standard model as “this year’s model, refurbished” to unsuspecting aspiring writers who wanted a bargain. They were marked only with serial numbers, not dates. So although Lovecraft had his Remington in 1906, that doesn’t mean it has to have been made in 1906.
This is a 1910 Remington Standard, giving a flavour of the sort of scene at which Lovecraft might have sat down to type…
And here’s a 1907 ad for Remington which might have appealed to Lovecraft’s love of ancient Egypt (and which interestingly hints visually that New York might be imagined as the heir of ancient civilisations). The sand had been completely cleared away from the Sphinx only in 1905, allowing it to be seen fully for the first time since Antiquity….
Here’s an attic-hauled 1907 Remington in the 2000s, showing us what Lovecraft’s typewriter might look like today if it ever turned up…
Incidentally, it seems Lovecraft had previously had a Remington rifle in his firearms collection, and later wrote in a letter of his regret at giving it away. Possibly his admiration for the rifle was partly why he chose Remington as his typewriter brand? Although it does seem that Remington was then the “top choice” among typewriters.
Lovecraft also purchased a $50 astronomical telescope that same summer. His established interest in astronomy swiftly found its way on to the keys of the typewriter — a mere ten days after the Remington’s delivery he rattled out a letter that would win him his first national print publication, in the letters pages of the Scientific American. In the letter he proposed a method of discovering new planets beyond the orbit of Neptune.