.Davis Typewriter Works

.Davis Typewriter Works

Monday, January 31, 2011

The ABC in Detail - 3

In our last installment we paused at serial number 3-54640, made during the initial Wagenfeld body style era of the ABC portables and which was made just after introduction of the ribbon selector device (which employed a lever at the right side of the machine.) We now take up our examination with thorough coverage of the continuation of the early, all-Wagenfeld bodied production.

ABC / serial 3-69883 / Thomas Furtig collection. This example shows another two-tone combination, in beige and light blue. Many collectors will have noticed the red triangle seen on the right carriage end of this machine; this is a mark for the page end indicator, a feature of the ABC which warned the typist of the page end approaching and which was similar to Smith-Corona's "Page Gage" in the United States.

Above, illustration of the page end device and how it is used for three different sizes of paper. This prevents the writing from trailing away at the end of the sheet- which is shown at the top of the illustration.

ABC / serial 3-75369 / Thomas Furtig collection. This machine is finished in the green hammertone paint. Many collectors find the hammertone paint colors to be the most desirable. There was a green hammertone, a grey hammertone, and a dark beige hammertone. These are seen mixed throughout the early production period 1955-1963 with all machines in one model, and one body style; a few hammertone machines are known after this as well in two body styles. But we get ahead of ourselves!

ABC / serial 3-77380 / Thomas Furtig collection. This is the first pink machine we've seen in our look at this line. Interestingly, in the large database we have constructed for this project it is the earliest identified pink machine. Furthermore, there is only one other pink machine known (at least in our database, so far) and we will in fact see that machine as well later on. Pink as an optional color doesn't appear in our advertising material either - you certainly don't see many ABC / Cole-Steel machines in this color.

ABC / serial 3-83765 / Thomas Furtig collection. This machine at first might look like one we've seen, but look again; this machine is not two-tone but rather is the same very attractive blue color overall. Also note that this machine's top cover doesn't have the small metallic buttons on the sides to allow it to be removed; it simply pulls up and off. This is the 29th machine listed in our database, and the next machine you will see is the 30th machine in our database.

ABC / serial 3-99632 / Thomas Furtig collection. This machine features the dark beige (or dark creme if you prefer) hammertone paint discussed previously as one of the three known 'hammertone' paint options. This extra feature in the finish adds a great deal of depth to the paint's appearance, which makes any machine so painted appear very luxurious .. and expensive.

The very next machine in our database is a Cole-Steel, and in fact so are the next nine machines. There is a solid run, or block, of Cole-Steel machines running from serial number 3-108447 (owned by Mark Rosenzweig) through 3-163529, which we will see next. However, one machine in this block is very notable for us; serial number 3-149323, a Cole-Steel owned by Christopher Pilant, is known to have been purchased originally on March 21, 1960. This gives us our first solid date evidence.

Cole-Steel / serial 3-163529 / Will Davis collection. The machine we see here is somewhat significant, in terms of the progression of models of this whole line, so we will carefully detail the things that it represents. Not only is this the last known, or in other words highest serial number known, Cole-Steel in our database, it is also the second and last known pink machine of any label. In terms of mechanics, this machine is the earliest known to incorporate the new dial-type ribbon color selector to the right of the keyboard; this is much easier to see than the lever mounted back on the right side. Machines with higher serial numbers than this one seem to go back and forth between the dial selector and the lever selector with no apparent pattern; however, this is the only machine with a serial number prefix of "3-" that has the dial type selector and in fact is the highest serial number in the database with this prefix.

Next installment: Continuing with the original Wagenfeld body style in the serial number range with a "4-" prefix.. and new labeling.


  1. Hi, Will! I'm eagerly awaiting the appearance of the lowercase abc logo, which was minimalist and yet elegant.

    My favorite color has to be the two-tone beige and light blue; it's very pretty. I noticed the red triangle on mine too, and didn't know what it was for! I'm still not sure how to use it despite the explanation in German :(

    Anyway - one question about your research procedure: do you count among "known" models the typewriters which are sold online by various sellers? Because I would think that no matter where they end up (i.e. not necessarily with an established collector), they are still somewhat "known". Although I suppose it would be a lot of work to keep track of all the typewriter listings around the world. I mention this because there was a pink typewriter sold on an online shop a couple months ago: http://www.vintagetypewritershoppe.com/catalog/item/3807439/5283481.htm

    So I was curious to know if this would count as the third known pink ABC, or not count at all.

  2. Hello Adwoa! Nice to hear from you again. The lowercase logo is coming very soon to the article series and you'll get to see a lot of it - and on more machines than you might realize!

    Getting to your inquiries about the pink machine and the data on hand... we do have quite a number of machines that are known to have been sold online in the database, but only where the serial numbers are also known; for this type of project, the serial number is essential to delineate changes and help with dates. Of course the machine you mention would be the third pink machine KNOWN to exist overall, but it isn't in the database.

    I've tried to be clear when making statements about what's in the database being just that; this is from experience gained writing many articles in this field where, as soon as the ink is dry, so to speak, more machines pop up to contradict data. This is why I'm saying things like "two pink machines in the database" instead of "two pink machines in the world."

    A project like this always has outlier data points and naturally immediately after it's published, other data comes in that might either help it or contradict it. The problem is that if you wait forever until you have all the possible data ever in history the project never gets published! So at some point you have to go to press with what you have and wait to see what comes up. For many years, the original article I did on the Cole-Steel on my site was adequate until these wonderful looking machines really started to get a major following; that is partly why this new project exists. So after having asked for a worldwide survey of known machines, with serial numbers and certain features, Thomas and I looked at the data, and exchanged many e-mails last year until we had a clear understanding of the whole progression of the product line and manufacturing and design changes. A brief time for any further reflection was allowed by the busy holiday time, and now we are going to press!

    For whatever it's worth, I don't look at that shop which you mentioned and didn't see that Cole-Steel. What a price.... !!!

    At one point I will be placing a link to your blog in this article series, Adwoa, since your blog is one of the few great places on the internet where one can also see ABC machines! We all enjoy your blog very much around here.

  3. Hello again Will,

    Thanks for the detailed response. I agree that if you wait till all the information becomes available, nothing will ever be published! I'm grateful for the clarification that whenever you use "known" in your articles, you mean listed in your database, with serial number information.

    As for the price of the pink Cole Steel, I guess "...!!!" says everything we're all thinking! And to think it has been sold! Ah, well.

    Thanks as always for the nice comments about the blog :)

  4. Hello Everybody,
    I live in Berlin and yesterday I bought by chance an abc-machine at the corner from a junk-dealer.
    It is olivegreen in an green plastic case and it works perfectly. Unfortunately I can't find a serial number. Could you help me to find out if it is something special? Then I would sell it, I just need one machine for my Kids to play, in that case I would find another....
    Thank You,