It all started in 1978 at the flea market in York. Tucked between glass toys and shabby treasures, Marjorie Birch noticed a faded, blue-and-white tin can for a typewriter with the Chesapeake brand printed on it. On the “canvas” the size of a palm were calm waters under plump clouds and a sailboat in the distance. Being from Maryland, it was a must.

Later, Birch found another can in a consignment shop, “so that the other could be a company,” she said. The search for these bright, lithographed cans, which display a playful set of designs, fonts and themes, has been somewhat addictive.

Forty years later, Biaroza has a unique – and enviable – collection of about 165 vintage cans with typewriter ribbons.

“I like the graphics and colors,” says 69-year-old Birch from East St. Petersburg. “I have a commitment to obsolete things.”

Birch began collecting cans “on foot”, browsing antique shops throughout the region. She says antique malls are a good source as they showcase a variety of vendors. In some, such as Shupp’s Grove Antique Market in Adamstown, a themed week of “antique advertising” is held from time to time, which Birch enjoys reading.

“Just come earlier,” she says.

While Birch likes certain cans made in the United States – especially with “cute animals” and typewriters – the international market is even more attractive. She says France and England are excellent sources for typewriter tapes, and some countries are less so.

“There are some in India, but the ones I’ve seen are pretty broken,” she says.

Sometimes delivery is more expensive than the tin itself – Birch usually misses them. However, she has cans of ribbons from Hungary.

“I was fine with that postage because I got four cans in this sending,” she says.

She also has a can from Serbia, the most distant country in her collection, which took weeks.

Birch says her collection increased during the “plague” when her time spent at home on the block led to some interesting finds on eBay. She bets on vintage cans that she likes, but knows when to bet. The largest amount she paid for the can was $ 65. Some cans cost much more.

Etsy is another good online source for collectibles: “But they tend to sell in groups of four banks if I really only want one,” she says. “So I get a duplicate of the cans.”

Birch uses the magnification feature for online purchases, as tin cans can cause significant scratches and other damage, while others remain extremely intact.

Fonts and artwork on tin typewriter ribbons reflect the aesthetics of the time, from the 1870s to the 1960s, scientists and collectors note. An online search shows colorful, mundane, bright, simple, elegant and whimsical designs, often with bright fonts.

Victorian styles, Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles, post-war slogans and images of secretaries in action were widely used to sell ink ribbons inside, as well as place names such as Gibraltar, Panama, Manhattan and Woodstock. Art work includes maps, dogs, typewriters, airplanes, horizons, mountains, battleships, women and silhouettes.

Tiny cans of round or square shape, with a tight lid – so as not to dry out the ink-applied tape – and ready to hold the pins and pins in the next life.

Panama was a popular motif used by Manifold Supplies in Brooklyn, New York, perhaps reflecting interest in the Panama Canal, an amazing engineering achievement completed in 1914. One Panamanian tin collection in the Bercha collection even has paper clips, hooks and other images printed on the inside of the tin.

Birch says she feels that each can illustrates that “art has gotten a job,” and she feels good with a penchant for words, font, and art. For many years, Birch was a “casual graphic designer” by profession and currently works as a typist / proofreader at Lancaster Farming.

The collection of tin tapes for the Birch typewriter is masterfully placed on its built-in bookshelf, freely repeating the names, and on antique tables in themed tour groups or by color. Her cats deftly walk between the cans, occasionally knocking one to the floor.

A thoughtful collector by nature – she also has many favorite children’s books and is a concholer with her collection of shells – Birch admits that she is the antithesis of the philosophy of Japanese master organizer Marie Konda. But she insists her collectibles bring her joy.

“I just look at them and feel good,” she says.

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