By Valerie Hardy 

Lucas Dul is a self-described simple person with a passion for complex machinery – specifically typewriters. Dul’s interest in typewriters may come as a surprise, however, given that he is only 24 years old.

Though a digital native, Dul loves “all things analog.” The lifelong Downers Grove resident first became aware of typewriters at a young age, because his grandmother had one. Then, 10 years ago, his mother gave him a typewriter of his own (a Royal 10), a gift which set his future career in typewriter maintenance, repair, restoration, and sales in motion.


“Typewriters facilitate individual
creativity but also bring people together.”

– Lucas Dul


As someone who always had “a penchant for repairing things and manipulating mechanics,” Dul said he spent a lot of time tinkering with his new acquisition. In fact, it took him a year or two to “pull it apart and get it working again,” something he learned to do largely by himself.

Online resources were limited at the time, so, instead, Dul sought to connect with others in his community who had typewriters.

Over the next few years, he procured a couple more typewriters to deconstruct and rebuild. He also expanded his network, joining the larger online community of typewriter collectors and finding kindred spirits in many of them.

Around this same time, Dul was approached about fixing others’ typewriters. “I didn’t charge the first two people – they were friends or fellow students – but I began to recognize there was a need,” he recounted. He decided to make his typewriter repair and restoration a public business.

In 2019, Dul – then still a teenager – repaired dozens of typewriters, many for a local collector. He also added maintenance and sales to his repertoire. Dul had been successful selling typewriters and supplies, such as ribbons, but in 2020, “when people were locked up [due to the pandemic] and looking for new hobbies, business really started to explode,” he said.

Dul’s business is still steadily increasing, which he ascribes – at least in part – to the fact that “a lot of people are getting tired of digital technology and want something more hands on, more personally mediated.”

Many in the artistic community are also driving typewriter sales, Dul noted, but added that “there is not any particular demographic” using or collecting typewriters. “It’s a healthy mix of people from all walks of life.”

Dul has been running his business – Typewriter Chicago – out of his family’s Downers Grove home. However, as demand for his services continues to grow, he is looking to relocate to a nearby commercial space. Business has also boomed to the point it is more than Dul can handle on his own, so he is considering hiring friends to help with his business, contracting out some projects, or running an apprenticeship program.

What will remain the same, however, is the quality of Dul’s work. “I’m more concerned with giving people a good product and quality service than with anything else,” he said.

Though Typewriter Chicago has kept Dul plenty busy, he managed to find time to write and publish a book about – what else? – typewriters. The book chronicles a specific typewriter, the Williams – produced in the late 1800s – and is aptly titled The Williams Typewriter: Everything There Is To Know And More. Dul explained that he even drafted part of the book on the model of typewriter the book was about.

Dul is an old soul who values old school items and practices; he primarily uses his typewriters for creative writing or composing letters. Something he appreciates most about typewriters is that they “facilitate individual creativity but also bring people together.”

In addition to local typewriter connoisseurs, Dul’s work with and passion for typewriters has connected him with typewriter aficionados across the nation and around the world, with descendants of noteworthy typewriter inventors, and with avid typewriter collectors, including famed actor Tom Hanks.

Dul’s love of typewriters also fueled his decision to run an annual short story contest. The contest is open worldwide, but submissions must be in English. Dul identifies various writers/authors to serve as volunteer judges, and the winning writer receives a free typewriter.
To learn more about the contest and Dul’s business, visit TypewriterChicago.com

In addition to his passion for typewriters, Dul is also an avid artist and photographer. Photo by Ephraim Gutierrez

 

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