My own Underwood no. 5

In December 2019 I decided to get myself a typewriter just like the one Robert E. Howard had. I found a vintage 1924 Underwood no. 5. In a letter to H. P. Lovecraft, Robert Howard confessed that he could spend as many as 18 hours a day at his typewriter, writing as many as 12.000 words, honing his craft and perfecting his stories.

My typewriter actually works and I also got a new ribbon for it since it needed replacement. I also replaced the feet of the typewriter to make it more stable.

If I’m not completely mistaken, Howard had two typewriters during his lifetime. He may have gotten the second one in July, 1925.

There has been some confusions and some have thought that they actually got hold of Howards original typewriter. The one in the museum was donated by Jay Corrinet and his son Mark who bought an identical model in 1993. Here is a lot more information about the detective work regarding Howards original typewriter in ‘The Nemedian Chroniclers #17‘.


Here’s an image of Robert E. Howard. Original Typed Manuscript, Ribbon Copy, for the Conan Story, “A Witch Shall Be Born.” Forty-five pages (rectos only) on 8.5 x 11 inch typing paper. Originally published in Weird Tales in December, 1934 and later collected in the 1954 Gnome Press publication of Conan the BarbarianHoward has inscribed and signed in pencil at the top of the first page of the typescript, “Best Regards, / Robert E. Howard.”

“A Witch Shall Be Born” is perhaps the best known Conan story of Howard’s career, particularly for the scene in which the mighty Cimmerian, after being beaten, tortured, crucified and left for dead, bites his way through the neck of an impatient vulture. Additionally, on the verso of fifteen pages of the manuscript, Howard re-used the paper to write another story, this one a western-themed thriller later published as “Knife River Prodigal” in the July, 1937 issue of Cowboy Stories. The pages are numbered sequentially 1-14, with an extra page 8, comprising fifteen pages of typescript.

The manuscript is quite clean, with errors corrected by erasure and retyping. Minor toning to the paper, with a few scattered, very occasional instances of thumb-soiling or spotting. Marginal perforations vertically along the left edge, likely as preparation for binding by its previous owner, and Lovecraft associate, Robert H. Barlow. A fine and unique Conan manuscript comprising two full Howard stories, with an inscription from the author on the first page (Howard signatures are quite rare in their own right), and likely the only time in a generation or two that one will be able to acquire such a treasure.

The manuscript was sold for $22.500 on Heritage Auctions in 2013.