Old typewriter keys, many likely from old newspaper news rooms, are now being recycled for jewellery around the country.
Several jewellers in New Zealand are bidding for great heavy old typewriters as used in newspapers to cut the keys off for pendants, cufflinks, necklaces and rings
A Huntly craftsman Alan Coates says he has cut up dozens of old typewriters so far for keys such as the pound sign, shift lock, back space and other old imperial typewriter figures.
``I mainly buy old Imperials, both office type and portable ones from garage sales, markets and on Trade Me. They are still pretty easy to find. Most of them date from the 1940s but some are a lot older too.’’
``When I started this a few years ago I don't think anyone in New Zealand was recycling old typewriters, but I notice that at least three other people are now selling on Trade Me. I often have people on Trade Me unhappy that I am buying old typewriters on Trade Me – to cut up and use for jewellery.
``This is the age of recycling and we will see more of this type of recycling and re-using outdated machinery and pieces as time goes on. There is a real market for it and people appreciate pieces from more than 50-60 years ago.
``There is a new class of jewellery called steampunk, using old small bits of machinery, old watches, old keys, bass chains, and anything similar all relating to the industrial revolution. It's starting to arrive in New Zealand.’’
Coates also makes jewellery out of wooden and plastic Scrabble letters. He has sold Scrabble rings to wedding groups and one couple had their wedding in Rarotonga and exchanged scrabble rings for their vows.
He turns old adding machine keys, Lego, military buttons, coins and computer keys into jewellery. He first began recycling in the 1980s, buying old glass chandeliers and making them into drop earrings.