Quite some years ago, I was fortunate to acquire my very first Cole-Steel portable. The machine was wonderfully styled, compact, well thought out, and seemed to have more than the usual amount of design focus applied to it than you normally find with typewriters that didn't appear until well after the end of the Second World War. That began a fascination with this line for me - one that continues through until today.
One of the first things I discovered of course was that this wasn't the root brand for this machine. Norbert Schwarz, one of my very earliest collecting friends over in Germany, identified the machine as an ABC, made by Koch's Adlernahmaschinenwerke AG of Bielefeld, West Germany. This led to general inquiries that found the machine to be in some collections in various places already - people liked the design and certainly the variety of colors these seemed to be in. Further work with Norbert and later with our late friend Tilman Elster developed the story much more fully, and of course we had a number of US contributors too. This link takes you to the final incarnation of that original website effort.
Late last year, another good friend, Thomas Fuertig, also of Germany, began work with me on a far more intense study of this entire line of machines which has revealed previously unsuspected variations, details and information of all sorts that allows us to fairly clear the fog surrounding the production of the companies involved, if not their motives. Thomas and I (in the grand old fashion) exchanged many e-mails, data tables, spreadsheets, photographs and web links until we were fairly sure we had the story straight.
This whole story and description will be accompanied by more photographs of this line of typewriter than has ever appeared anywhere in print or on the internet, coupled with our complete dissertation on the mechanical variations and their correlation to serial numbering and model delineation. This will take many more than just two blog site updates and we hope that portable typewriter fans will find this in-depth examination of what has, over time, been proven to be a very popular typewriter with collectors to be of interest and worth reading and commenting on with further information, update, and discussion.
I intend to make the first installment of this series later this evening. For those familiar with my web content on the main site to date, it might be worthwhile to note that the information you will see here will not simply supplant the original content but will in many particulars improve upon it and in several should be considered to supersede it. ABC (and on this side of the Atlantic, "Cole-Steel") fans should get ready to be excited!