.Davis Typewriter Works

.Davis Typewriter Works

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Embassy 200

Friends, I spent most of the last week attending, and working at, the American Nuclear Society's 2013 Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. and had absolutely no typewriter time at all.  During that trip a box arrived here - a machine I'd won on e-Bay because it made me curious.  I unpacked it after my return, and now you get to see it too.

The machine appeared at first sight to be a member of a long-known and still-researched family of portables made in Europe.  I identified that family years back, originally calling it (for lack of a better name) the Oliver Courier family -- since that model was the best known.  I also called this the "Euro-Portables" family at times.  Later, it was discovered (I believe by Richard Polt?) that the original machine of the whole lot was the Patria (made in Switzerland) and the family was renamed the "Patria family."  Again, it must be noted that this term is a construct of modern day researchers and NOT an original term.  It's used only to identify a group of similar machines made in different countries to the same basic, internal mechanical design.

Throwback photo:  Research underway back in early 2004 in preparation for receiving the Voss Privat shown on my site.  All the family members I owned at the time were deployed to develop the differences. 

From the left:  Oliver portable (English); Patria (Swiss); Florida A85 (Spanish), Commodore (Spanish made C85); Oliver Courier (English); AMC (French made, rebranded Japy Script); Japy portable (France.)

Above, Oliver Courier serial CF78557.  This machine was made one month before production of all Oliver machines ceased; it dates to April, 1959.  It has some features not seen on other Oliver Courier machines. 

Above, Voss Privat serial 197611.  This machine incorporates the 'last ditch' or final alterations to the design of the machine that were dictated by Ernst Voss.  See here for details.
It should be pretty plain by now that I find this family of machines intriguing, and have for years.

Of course, I had to wait until after my trip to examine the machine - and it proved to be a very interesting unit in a number of ways.

Embassy 200  serial 100209
Above, the Embassy 200.  The machine has keys right where you'd expect them to be for a Patria family machine - sticking out from the machine instead of up from the keyboard.  This one has two; that on the left, with double-ended arrow is margin release while the other is a jam clear key.
Most interesting are the dial controls seen either side of the keyboard.  On the right side is a ribbon selector with three positions.  On the left is a touch regulator.  This device consists of a knob, seen on the machine, with a shaft running straight through down into an open space.  There would originally (probably) have been a plastic piece mounted on this (now gone) which would have had a ramped profile, so that as the dial was turned, this plastic piece would have raised a lever in contact with it.  That lever (still in place as is the rest of the mechanism) pulls on a spring that places increasing tension on the ribbon drive bail, and thus would impart an increasing (if very slight) extra pressure against the primary key levers. 


The carriage lock, seen above, is right where I'd expect it.  The knurled knob is pulled out and away from the machine to allow the lock arm to either engage or disengage a square cutout in the carriage rail.

Removal of the cover shows a standing semi-circle of type bar return springs connected between intermediate cranks (lower end) and type bar rest (upper end.)  Again, typical of the greater family.

The ribbon spools are a very interesting light gray, with a mottled finish.  These have no ribbon installed (any longer) but are very likely original, I'd say.  They are not aluminum - we checked with a magnet.  The frame of the machine however is NOT magnetic, and is likely a magnesium alloy - at least, that's our guess for now.

There is no identification on the machine as to who made it or where, and no paperwork.  The immediate guess I had was that it was made in Spain, because the snap-over lid seemed quite a bit like that on my Florida.  It's clear that there used to be a sticker inside the lid, but it's long gone. 

The serial number is stamped into the top of the front-most frame crossmember, below the keyboard, and is as gentle of an impression as I've ever seen.  It's really hard to see.  The serial of 100209 told me that this was perhaps the start of a new model for the company  -- but that is just an educated guess.

Discovery of a very similar looking Amaya IM/93 on Georg Sommeregger's page on the Patria family seems to nail it - the Embassy 200 is a Spanish-built machine (from Industrial Mecanografica, S.A. just like the earlier Florida) and has an English language keyboard and branding.

The machine is overall of decent but not great quality; the body is definitely a step down in quality from the Florida.  The distinct impression I'm given by this machine is that the maker wanted to reduce the size envelope to the absolute minimum possible, and the body tapers here and there to prevent having too much free space inside.  Interestingly, the bottom doesn't have, say, four individual feet but two very large, long rubberized feet that run front to back.  That is a peculiarity I've never seen before.  The machine was known broken when purchased, but intrigued me so much that I bid on it (and won it at the opening bid) just to see what it was.  The dial controls either side of the keyboard are very distinctive - but don't work very well. 

Bashing of the machine's actual qualities aside however we can add a new model to the pantheon of modern(ish) portable typewriters, and of course add another sub-variant to the archive covering all the varied nuances of the Euro-Portables / Patria family.

All machines shown in this article in Will Davis collection.

9:20 PM Eastern 11/19/2013

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

2013 New Model Typewriter

Yes, you read that title correctly.  The manual typewriter continues to prove itself to be an entity unwilling to die - and I am myself beginning to wonder if our continued declarations over the last decade about the manual typewriter's spot on the timeline of product life have not been premature.

Above, you see the Rover Carina 2.  This machine was previously only distributed under the Olympia name with the same model designation.  However, you will see at this link that this machine is advertised as I write this as a "2013 New Model 11" English Typewriter."
The site page you see is part of an export opportunity page I've used for years to track Chinese-made machines produced by Shanghai Weilv Mechanism Company, which includes machines formerly manufactured by Shanghai Golden Bay Typewriter Company -- whose production appears to be either folded into the former company's name, or else the company evolved into the present one.  Several models of typewriter are available.  Machines like that you see here are indeed derived from the old Olympia Carina series, which originally were Nakajimas from Japan.  There are two other basic designs.  This design is apparently the old Olympia Traveller C design which I believe at last was made in Mexico and appears derived of Silver-Seiko heritage; this design is the old familiar Rover / IMC design familiar to those who have perused my website pages on Italy.  Robert Messenger has done a great deal of additional work on this lineup, and so has Georg Sommeregger.  (Their sites are always linked in our blog roll, so check them out frequently.)  You can also find an alternate full list of Shanghai Weilv products at this web page.
THREE "heritage" designs still in production in 2013.  Not one, but three confirmed for sale!
Some of the export opportunity listing sites give the majority market for manual typewriters as South America / Latin America and the Asia region -- in case one wonders where these are really going.
Further, and mostly in the 'bad news' department...
Marshall Sewing Machine Industrial, Inc. of Taiwan entered production of mechanical typewriters in 1996, and while they're still listed on this page, most of the newer export opportunity websites only show sewing machines .. and the company profiles on the newest sites have deleted reference to anything but sewing machines.  It's questionable how many, if any of these were ever actually made.  This also appears to be based on the Olympia Traveller C.
Ningbo Duodashi appears to have quit its DUODASHI brand of typewriters; Ideal (Jinan) and Ideal (HK) Products don't have the former GENERATION 3000 et al listed any more at large and the ROYAL version is no longer listed at Royal's site. (The Royal and Olivetti machines have begun to appear widely at overstock sites, and Olivetti's site no longer lists any typewriters at all.)   Zhangjiagang appears to have disappeared.
I'll try to keep an eye on the continuing situation regarding what's actually being manufactured and make regular updates.
Background links:
For a couple years I kept regular updates in progress on the old website concerning real time developments in the manufacturing of mechanical typewriters.  Click here to see those pages, which cover the 2005-2007 time frame but which include some background that might be of interest relative to machines seen above.
10:10 AM by Will Davis

Sunday, November 3, 2013

ORGA Typewriters 1

Prologue:  Years back, when Thomas Furtig, Tilman Elster and I constructed the European Typewriter Project website, the ORGA machines were given brief coverage.  This interesting and rather long-lived line began in the interwar period and actually stretched after the Second World War, surviving even to be rebranded, dropped and replaced with a portable, and then moved to Holland.  In this post, we'll present a photographic essay covering machines owned by Thomas Furtig, Herman Price and Will Davis as well as some advertising material from Georg Sommeregger.

Introduction.  The 1924 Typewriter Topics historical compendium notes that Bing-Werke AG of Nurnberg, Germany entered the field of standard typewriter manufacturing in 1922 with a fully competitive four bank machine featuring a removable carriage, single shift and 44 keys known as the ORGA.  Today's research shows a number of patents ascribed to Ludwig Reischl which were assigned to Bing-Werke, applicable to this machine.  After a short time, Bing-Werke additionally developed and released a highly stripped version of its typewriter to appeal to those requiring a sturdy machine at a markedly lower price; this machine was the ORGA Privat.  We will cover models in the order of introduction, beginning with the entire run of the original (more expensive) models covered fully first.

ORGA STANDARD  (No. 1 and No. 2)

Above:  ORGA Standard, serial number A121.  Herman Price Collection.   The initial ORGA can be seen to be a 'standard' typewriter in every sense of the word, in size and in appurtenance.  It is believed that this example is the earliest of any Bing-Werke typewriter in the hands of any collector.
Above, AVANTI (rebranded ORGA No. 1) serial number 1491, Thomas Furtig collection.  This particularly fine example of the early Bing-Werke standard machine carries an interesting relabeling.  Thomas relates to us the fact that the original machine was built in two models but then was dropped in about 1933 at the same time as another event we'll relate later in the proper time sequence.
Above, ORGA No. 1 serial number 8878 from Thomas Furtig's collection.  Visible quite clearly in this shot is a feature found on only a few typewriters ever made -- dual carriage return levers.  The Continental and the Demountable come to mind first when such a feature is mentioned; we may now add the ORGA to this small and remarkable group.  The ORGA standard machine had this feature from inception.
Above, ORGA No. 2 serial 29417, Thomas Furtig collection.  This machine dates, according to Dirk Schumann's compiled records at tw-db.com to approximately 1928 or 1929.  Production of these machines was not more than about 32,000 total in both models over 1922-1933.  Note that the No. 2 model does not have dual carriage return levers.  The change to keytop legends of white with black lettering is also apparent.
ORGA PRIVAT (model numbers 1 through 12 and variants)
Above, ORGA Privat 1 serial 830, Thomas Furtig collection.    We move backwards a bit in time now to the 1923 time when the lower priced ORGA Privat was added to the product line.  This machine was devoid of quite a large number of features found on the higher priced machine, but appears to have found a larger following judging by both surviving examples and serial number records.  This was a time during which there was a world-wide recession that actually killed off a number of companies, large and small world-wide.. including some typewriter manufacturers.  It was also a time of many changes in the typewriter industry as lower priced machines made to compete with standards in many respects, and portables began to appear widely.
Above, ORGA Private serial 4511, Thomas Furtig collection.   This machine features an intriguing change to the Privat name; an 'e' has been added to change the name to "Private," which might seem to imply an English market - but the machine retains a German keyboard.  This machine is still the ORGA Privat No. 1 with a changed label.
Above, ORGA Privat No. 2 serial number 29456, Thomas Furtig collection.  The No. 2 we see here displays white keytop legends with black lettering, and adds an indicator above the print point as was previously only seen on the Standard models.  Existing data (tw-db.com) shows that the ORGA Privat No. 2 was produced 1924-1925.

Above, AMC serial number 37115, Thomas Furtig collection.   This machine carries the label "AMC" which, according to Dirk Schumann's quote of Ernst Martin's work was a name applied for the English market -- and we can see that this machine indeed does have an English keyboard.  The machine seen here is actually an ORGA Privat No. 3.  This model was made 1925-1927.

Above, ORGA Privat No. 3 serial 58508, Thomas Furtig collection.    This machine displays the normal labeling and painting of the No. 3 variant, as well as a German keyboard.
Above, ORGA Privat No. 3 serial 62733, Will Davis collection.   We will break from our steady progression of the presentation of the successive models to examine two things of interest regarding the machine seen above.  First, this machine is of interest because of a long-ago-made repair; the machine is missing both of its rear feet, and a piece of wood has been attached to replace them.  This is not as uncommon as one might think; during much of the Second World War, there were in most cases no facilities or resources to properly repair typewriters, so that what machines could be had were repaired as best possible in myriad ways -- some ingenious, some brutally simple.  This machine then displays a modification that speaks of the times through which it has been used.  Secondly, this machine was tested years back as part of a (short-lived) feature on my website.  Below we discuss the evaluation; later we will test, in the present time, a much later model in a state of excellent repair.
Testing the ORGA Privat 3
From the original test:  "As related to us by Thomas Fuertig, the Orga Privat series of machines was introduced for either small office use (or use as a backup or light-work machine in larger offices) or for use in the home. Its size is nearly that of a conventional standard machine, but it omits very many features found on the majority of office-sized typewriters. Overall, though, the machine functions very well if expected only to be used inside of its originally intended parameters.

What the machine does have: Four rows of keys, with single shift (carriage shift in this case) and backspacer; shift lock lever on left side, manually locked and released; one-sided carriage release lever; thumb-operated line spacing with variable spacing; paper release lever on left side of carrige; paper bail. There are no rollers on the paper bail, but it performs its intended function quite well. One-color ribbon only, with side-mounted winding and reverse knobs.

The machine is most hindered by its lack of anything like we would think of as a conventional margin stop arrangement. What it does have is shown below."

As we can see, this device is just a simple stop that halts the carriage travel on the return.  There is no margin release as such, and this stop cannot be bypassed.  On the other end of travel, there is only a warning bell and no margin stop at all.  There is however a stop for maximum carriage travel in this direction.
The original test showed that the machine could be operated comfortably at a moderate speed with a steady rhythm.  The return speed of the type bars was not nearly as fast as most large standard typewriters, but the key action was light and pleasant.  The assessment proved out that while some might have associated the name "Bing" with the commonly found child's instructional typewriter (for, as labeled in the patent materials, the little Bing - not shown here - surely is that) the ORGA Privat is capable of real work - where complicated devices such as a tabulator are not required.  Indeed, there are many worse "semi-standard" machines that have been built and marketed over the years.
We'll now return to presentation of successive machines / models by serial number.
Above:  BING, serial number 76732, Thomas Furtig collection.  This machine falls into the range of ORGA Privat No. 3 machines, but only carries the label BING on its paper table.  The machine has an English keyboard.  The No. 3 date range is roughly 1925-1927.
Above, ORGA Privat No. 4, serial number 115002, Thomas Furtig collection.  The No. 4 version of the Privat was produced, according to available records, 1927-1928.  As is by now apparent, none of the machines yet seen carries a model number delineation in decal or paint.  Notice that the No. 4 includes a movable paper edge guide on its paper table; a fixed piece was used on the No. 3.  The No. 4 also adds a device that allows the return (left) margin stop to be bypassed; a left margin release of sorts, operated by a lever on the carriage.
Above, ORGA Record, serial 126260, Thomas Furtig collection.  This machine is actually what would normally be known as the ORGA Privat No. 5 but in this case carries the interesting name "ORGA RECORD" on its paper table.  The No. 5 was produced roughly 1928-1933 according to Dirk Schumann's tw-db.com database.  The No. 5 introduces what we would think of as conventional margin setting for both sides with a rack and two stops mounted behind the carriage.



Above, ORGA Privat No. 5 serial 144807, Thomas Furtig collection.  Above we see the conventionally labeled No. 5 machine on a carrying case base. 

ORGA Privat No. 5 serial 155372, Thomas Furtig collection

ORGA Privat No. 5 serial 160286  Thomas Furtig collection

ORGA Privat No. 5 serial 163730  Thomas Furtig collection
As seen above in three illustrations of machines in the Furtig collection, the No. 5 was available in colors other than black, making for a very attractive typewriter ... and a desirable one for collectors today. 

          Above, three attractive ORGA Privat No. 5 machines in the collection of Herman Price. 

Above, ORGA Privat No. 6 serial 169779, Thomas Furtig collection.  This No. 6 features visible paper support arms on top of its paper table - and it appears to immediately predate a major change for this typewriter manufacturing operation.


Above, ORGA Modell 7,  Thomas Furtig collection, serial number unknown (serial number plate missing.)  This machine features an important labeling change; the "Privat" name was dropped from the machines, and a visible labeling of "Modell 7" finally appears on the machine.  Another important change had already taken place - that is that the typewriter manufacturing operation of Bing-Werke was bought out by the Royal Typewriter Company, USA in 1933 and became Royal Schreibmaschinen Gmbh Berlin.  That name is partially visible on the front frame of this example.  The Modell 7 was made from 1934-1935.  It was at the time of this buyout that the original ORGA Standard machine was dropped; hereafter only the simplified machine was made at the Nurnberg ("Nuremberg") factory.

Above, ORGA Modell 8, serial number 200407, Thomas Furtig collection.  According to Dirk Schumann's serial number listing the ORGA 8 was made from 1935 to 1938.  The addition of ribbon cutout lever on the right side of the machine's front and margin release on the left is made obvious by the red tips on the levers.  This machine's front frame decal (not visible in this shot) reads "ORGA A.-G. BERLIN W. 8, FABRIK NURNBERG."

ACTIVITY, serial number 202853, Thomas Furtig collection.  This is a relabeled version of the ORGA Modell 8.  This machine has an English keyboard.

ORGA Modell 8, serial number 206543, Thomas Furtig collection.  This machine's front frame carries the decal "Vertrieb: Royal Schreibmaschinen GmbH Berlin NW 7." 
The Modell 9 appeared in 1938 and was manufactured through 1941, when production (predictably) ended during the Second World War.  As mentioned, typewriters came to be in incredibly short supply during this war; during the war, any typewriter that could be used or salvaged was, and after it, any company that could restart typewriter production could sell machines.
We will end this first part of the story of Bing-Werke's ORGA series and following typewriters with an interesting example, shown below, seen completely out of serial number sequence because of its unique condition.

The machine seen above is in an overall grayish paint, carries only the name ORGA on its paper table, and has serial number 55894.  Traces of black paint are showing through in various places around the machine.  This interesting example, in the collection of Thomas Furtig, is actually a rebuilt machine that has both been repainted and modified (having lost its original ribbon spool cups) and is actually an ORGA Privat 3.  Very many typewriters discovered today have been rebuilt and repainted; we're lucky to be able to show so many great machines in original condition from two great collections (Thomas Furtig and Herman Price) which are still in original trim.  It's also interesting to note that the paper table decal on this machine matches, in style, only the very last Modell 8 ORGA seen on this page - although this does not really give a definitive date of rebuilding.
NEXT TIME:  Royal Schreibmaschinen GmbH restarts production of the line in 1947, but has a turbulent future ahead with numerous product changes - and finally closure and relocation of production.  You won't want to miss the second and final piece which will include a video evaluation and test of a late model, post-war ORGA machine right here in the Davis Typewriter Works.


Friday, November 1, 2013

Typewriters 301

We've filmed another video in our "Typewriters 301" series, which is an in-depth examination of typewriters for those really interested in these machines -- and particularly, their design and manufacture.

This video concerns a design alteration we've commented on before - the changing of a given design of typewriter from having (early style) individual type bar bearings to having a (modern style) slotted segment.  The change wasn't always easy by any stretch, but may have allowed more of the machine to remain the same than one might originally have thought. 

All is revealed in this new ~15 minute video.  Click here to see it!

What do we mean by "Typewriters 301" and what are we doing?

Good question.  We might consider 101 to be basic use of typewriters, comparison between portables and standards, knowledge of some of the basic brands.  201 might move to knowledge of tooling for certain machines having been moved from place to place, rebrandings, non-standard typewriter designs (as they're considered now, like upstrikes or thrust action machines) - more in depth than what the person only interested in writing and basic collecting would be interested in.  301 is our placement for typewriter engineering and manufacturing as a focused, in depth study.   We just kind of stumbled on this college-like delineation during an earlier video and now we've stuck with the 301 label to signify the most involved, complicated studies of these objects as machines.

We're making this series for everyone, however ...   What's important is that people feel as if they have a place to learn the secrets of these machines, and that's what we're doing with this series.  We deliberately slow down and really investigate certain features or changes, certain methods of manufacturing or assembly and discuss the implications discovered therein.  In this way, the knowledge we've obtained can be both recorded and passed on.

We also realize that many people don't get much chance to talk with other collectors face to face .. except for annual or semi-annual meetings, or the occasional type-in.  These videos allow collectors and enthusiasts to immerse themselves in typewriter-related themes for just a short span at a time.  You're not alone in this hobby - interest - obsession!

We do have another video shot, but I haven't processed it yet for upload.  I'd like to note for those who have not noticed that we do these all in one take, with no script and no editing.  We have a rough and brief, loose plan for what will happen, and then I turn on the camera and we just GO.   We think that makes the best and most entertaining video style -- and the most informative.