.Davis Typewriter Works

.Davis Typewriter Works

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.



  1. That is a fine group of typewriters. I only heard of Orga once before. The color ones are really nice.
    Thanks for all of the history.

    1. Thanks for you comment Bill - you won't want to miss the next (probably, now) two parts!

  2. Oh, this is excellent. Nice! I can't wait for the next one. I've been watching a few of these on German Ebay in the last 12 months.

    1. Thanks, Scott! Quite a few more to show in the future installments! I had thought it would be one more, but now looking at the number of photos and the added text it'll be two more.

  3. This is a VERY helpful roundup. Some of these are really eye-catching, like the Avanti.

    1. Thanks, Richard! There are plenty more beauties and rarities in the future pieces! As I said in an earlier comment I had originally thought this would be a one-two affair; now I realize it'll have to run in three parts. Glad you liked it.

  4. I have an Orga 8 and I was wondering if you knew where I could buy ink for it?

  5. Thank you, big work, hope to read you soon again.

  6. I just came across a beautiful ORAG 8 typewriter with Hebrew keys at a local auction. The cover is intact and gorgeous too. All keys fluid, none frozen, seems to work fine if there were new ribbon installed. Spool covers intact, really clean and well protected over the years. How it made it through pre WWII Germany I will never understand! Let me know if anyone is interested in seeing pictures. I'd love to know what it might be worth to a collector! :)

  7. Hi,

    By sheer luck I am now the owner of a Orga Privat serial number 31330 made in Bavaria. Would you say it is an Orga Privat No. 2 produced around 1925? Thanks! I’m from Vietnam by the way.

  8. Buenas tengo una Orga privat pero el número de serie no aparece en ningún ejemplo el número es 155741.

  9. yo tengo una igual pero dice Bavaria, alguien tiene informacion? ademas tiene la letra Ñ