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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Stoewer Elite portable typewriter

I decided it was high time I took my Stoewer Elite portable typewriter out of storage, dusted it off and photographed it.
My Elite is a little different from others photographed in various collections (for example, Georg Sommeregger, Arnold Betzwieser, Richard Polt, Christian Hamann, Juan Ramon Gracia), in that it is only decaled "Elite".
The word "Stoewer" appears nowhere on it, but "Made in Germany" can be made out on the paper plate. Apparently the identification as "Elite" only was done for export purposes.
My Elite has the serial number E (for export) 101718, and it's difficult to date it - more likely to be just before the switch to a four-bank in the mid-1920s, but possibly earlier.
Regardless, it still types beautifully:
The Elite was first produced in 1912.
My Elite was bought on eBay here in Australia. I surprisingly didn't encounter much competition for it. A little old lady in Brisbane had a reasonably high price on it, but not too high given how rare it is in this country. Maybe what put others off bidding was that it was "pick up only".
I had trouble finding a courier to pick it up, so my Brisbane friends Scott and Colleen Jones collected it for me. Small world: the seller's name was Ryan and Colleen Jones knew her family from her childhood in New Zealand.
It wasn't until almost a year later that I was able to visit Brisbane and collect the Elite. The effort to get there, and the wait to finally see the Elite, had been well and truly worth it, I can tell you!
More small world stuff, sort of ...
In doing some research on the Elite, I discovered that by sheer coincidence Georg Sommeregger in Switzerland had also taken a closer look at his Elite this month.
Georg and I seem to be somehow weirdly connected on the same typewriter wavelength, as if linked  by typewriting ESP. Anyway, Georg's page on his Elite can be seen at
Sommeregger Collection
There is also an in-depth study of the Elite on another outstanding typewriter website, Arnold Betzwieser's, at
Betzwieser Collection
Georg and Arnold tell us the Elite was designed by Paul Grützmann. Arnold points out that this prolific typewriter designer was also responsible for such machines as the Chancellor IV, Stoewer 4, Stoewer Record and Triumph.
Georg's page gives an insight into the Stoewer company, established by Bernhard Stoewer (above, 1834-1908) in 1858 in Stettin. This company made sewing machines from 1872, bicycles from 1893 and typewriters from 1903.
The plant was shut down in August 1930.
Georg says there was "an afterlife on a small scale at the time of decommissioning, a successor to the small typewriter was ready for production. This was bought from the Rhenish metal goods and machinery factory in the Thuringian Sömmerda and marketed as Rheinmetall Portable."
Richard Polt's Stoewer Elite (above) also has the "E" prefix (42713) and he dates it from around 1925. It has a Hungarian keyboard and was sold in Prague. It is at
Breker Collection
Hamann Collection
Someone sold a Stoewer Elite on eBay in England in July for £41. With a bit more effort in the presentation, it might have gone for more!
As I understand it, what started out as a sewing machine company, then made bicycles and typewriters, was also associated with the Stoewer car maker:
1939 Stoewer Arkona Phaeton


Richard P said...

Beautiful. I don't think I've ever seen one before with those decals.

Rob Bowker said...

Even if it were a pile of junk, it would be worth keeping for those decals alone. So redolent of turn of the (19th) century commercial signage.

shordzi said...

Definitely the Austrialian-Austrian typewriter connection is working. Just as with the Stoewer, I received the "Express" when oztypewriter featured this bakelite marvel.
As to Stoewers, I value them very highly, especially the portable which was then carried on by Rheinmetall.