.Davis Typewriter Works

.Davis Typewriter Works

Friday, December 5, 2014

New Typewriters with New Look

You probably already can see that we've changed the look of the blog, and some of the photos.  We decided it was time for an upgrade from the basic template we'd applied in 2010 when we built the blog - which itself has grown in purpose since then and become our main outlet for information, articles and photos.

I suggested for the new header photo that Dave and I each pick a machine we'd like to have represent the blog and we'd just photograph the two together.  The one I picked is on the left.  I'll tell you about it in a moment, but first, let me ask you a question:  What was the first standard typewriter ever marketed? 

Every collector knows that - it was the Sholes & Glidden which first appeared in 1874, later to become the Remington and that line after which all other major makes for heavy office use were modeled.  Many, many dozens of makes and models appeared before the First World War in a bewildering assortment.

Now another question:  What was the LAST all new standard to be marketed?

I'm pretty confident that the last all-new effort in standard typewriters (by a company that had never made typewriters before, and not by a company producing someone else's design under license) was the SIEMAG, put on the market by Siegener Maschinenbau of West Germany in 1949.*

The machine you see here is my SIEMAG II-T, serial number 057175 II T, which dates to 1951 -- not too long after the introduction in terms of years, but updated quite a bit from the first model which was all black and had ringed keytops with black inserts.  This machine also has altered features elsewhere.  (A video showing this machine's features will be shot and put up soon on our YouTube channel.)

So why pick this machine?  Well, for starters, it might look rather common at first glance but these are really hard to find here in the US; this machine is a confirmed military bring-back.  It's representative also of that last marque to hit the market brand new, with its own patents, by a firm that never made a typewriter before.  And it's green.

I should add also that this is not a bad typewriter at all.  While it's not my top favorite, I'd say it's in the middle of the pack.  Certainly in post-War Germany, where there was a desperate shortage of typewriters, any brand new machine would have been an improvement over some or other pre-war machine that was being strung along on repairs and adjustments until it died and it does seem that the SIEMAG sold pretty well.  Serial number records show that the SIEMAG's various models sold something over a quarter of a million machines before production was sent to Messa in Portugal.

In the end, that machine represents a whole lot of things I'm interested in, all wrapped in one, and that's why I chose it.  Who knows what I'll pick if we redo the photo again?


*  There could be contention for this, but I'll explain.  I discount newly developed models in the 1960's, as an example, from Royal because Royal entered the business in 1906 and was only a typewriter manufacturer; later models are evolutionary.  You can't count the 1955 Godrej, because that was the R.C. Allen built under license; their following models were based on the Optima.  You also can't count the 1970 Lucznik, later Predom, because that's the Facit built under license.  The SIEMAG represents the latest introduction of an "out of the blue" newly designed and patented standard manual machine I know of.

9:45 AM 12/5/2014


  1. Nice! That era (post-Potsdam) in Germany (free) was prototypical of the explosion of creation that happens when humans are free to create, and pick themselves up by their bootstraps and make a life for themselves. Surely the SIEMAG embodies that! And to be a bring-back, that's just icing on the cake!!! Nice find. The blog looks great too! Thanks, guys.

    1. Thanks for checking it out and giving it the critical eye. Even better, you like the new look!

      I kind of feel the same way as you about that German post-war production, and that's also why I prize the Alpina and the Princess.

  2. What about the Byron Mark I as a candidate for the last all-new standard design?

    I've never gotten my hands on a Siemag. They look super-sturdy.

    1. That's a great point, and I guess I probably should have said "last to be introduced successfully to the market!" I would love to go over your Byron with a fine toothed comb to learn all its secrets. I remember being enthralled by it when I saw it in your office a few years back.

      Sturdy is the word for the SIEMAG-- and holy cow is that thing HEAVY! No light weight alloys in that beast, I can assure you.

    2. C'mon down to Cincinnati and analyze my Byron any time!