Here we see three Perfekts and two Gabrieles from my collection.
Although the Gabriele 25 above is best known as an Adler,
it and the Contessa were actually expressly designed for Triumph Werke Nürnberg AG in 1969
In this Olympic Games year, there will be winners and losers, those who triumph and those who suffer ignominy. There will be gold medal winners and bronze medal winners. In the Typosphere’s Triumph Portable Typewriter stakes, I Dream Lo-Tech has already won the gold with a Triumph Prefekt 2, which he posted on last November:
I am quite content with the bronze:
The story of Triumph typewriters begins with Siegfried Bettmann (below, seen in his mayoral robes as mayor of Coventry City), a man who had a knack of surrounding himself with top-line designers, whether it be for his typewriters or his motorcycles and bicycles.
Bettmann was born in Nuremberg on April 18, 1863. He developed language skills and, at the age of 20, in 1883, settled in England. Even in his earliest days in London, first staying at the Station Hotel, Holborn Viaduct, and then in lodgings on Church Road, Islington, he managed to meet people who would help in his future enterprises.
The first of these was Mauritz Johann Schulte, from Hanover, who was later to become Bettmann’s business partner. In 1884 Bettmann started work with Kelly and Company, using his ability to translate to compile foreign directories for its publications. But after six months he switched to the White Sewing Machine Company. In 1885, White’s business started to go downhill and Bettmann lost his job. He started his own business, setting up an agency to sell in Britain the German Biesolt and Locke sewing machine and to export British bicycles overseas.
In November 1886 Schulte joined Bettmann as a partner with a £250 investment, doubling the firm’s initial capital. In 1887 Schulte came to an arrangement with the small Birmingham bicycle manufacturer of William Andrews.
Bettmann, meanwhile, had settled in Coventry, and was exporting Andrews bicycles from there, labelled under his own name. He then changed the name of the company from S.Bettmann and Company to the Triumph Cycle Company Limited.
Ten years later, in 1896, with his British business booming, Bettmann returned to his home city of Nuremberg to set up a German branch, Deutsche Triumph Fahrradwerke Aktiengesellschaft.
In 1907 Karl Friedrich Kührt had started a typewriter company, Kührt and Riegelman GmbH, in Nuremberg, making a machine he had designed and called the Norica. After two years, however, the business went bust and Bettmann was able to take it over.
The Kührt family, by the way, were unthwarted by the collapse of the Norica venture. In 1909, Kührt launched Schreibmascninengesellschaft Franconia, in Nuremberg, taken over by Otto Baldamus in 1912, Later Hammerwerk Mayer and Company produced the Omega and the Excelsior, the company becoming Schreibmaschinenfabrik Augsburg AG from 1921-26 and Excelsior-Maschinen GmbH, Berlin.
Chuck Dilts Collection
Two of Kührt’s brothers, Richard and Arno, also became involved in the business, first with Deutsche Schreibmaschinenwerke as Hovelmann, Kührt and Bollendorf (1909-1913) then Nierhaus, Kührt and Bollendorf (1913-1919.) From 1919-23 this company became Minerva Schreibmaschinenfabrik Achille and Richard Kührt, until briefly taken over by Ludwig Dreyer. Dreyer produced the Helma in 1927-1928.
In 1914, Karl Kührt made a machine with an interchangeable typebasket, the Commercial (aka the Markana, Framo-Record), through Commercial Schreibmaschinenfabrik K.Fr. [Karl Friedrich] Kührt. In 1921 Arno Kührt, developed the Reliable (aka Liga) through the Reliable Schreibmaschinen GmbH, and an off-shoot, the Phoenix, from Hegeling-Werke, Eitorf.
But back to the Triumph …
Siegfried Bettmann continued to make the Norica, but was fortunate enough to acquire the services of one of Germany’s greatest typewriter designers, Paul Grützmann, who designed for Bettmann a new machine, called the Triumph.
In 1911 Bettmann changed the name of the company again, this time to Triumph Werke Nürnberg AG, and started exporting to Russia, Italy and Argentina.
In 1913, this company broke free of its English parent organisation. (One may notice that with the Triumph typewriter logo, the stroke goes across the top from the T, whereas with British motorbikes, the stroke comes from the R below the brand name,)
After World War I, Triumph continued to prosper. By 1921 it was making 3000 typewriters a year and in 1925 it won a contract with the German Postal Service for 600 typewriters for the sevice's telegraph division. Oskar Gšrwitz, chief executive of the general agency with negotiated the deal, Horn & Gšrwitz, in Berlin, adapted a Triumph typewriter as a telegraph machine.
Triumph’s Model 10 won favour far and wide, including from Pope Pius XI, In 1928 Cardinal Menotti telegrammed from the Vatican. “Am delighted to report Holy Father expressed greatest pleasure with Triumph typewriter and gives his blessing for well-being of management and workers of Triumph.” With or without the Pope's blessing, in 1929 Triumph became the first office machine company in Germany to introduce serial mass production techniques.
That same year, it introduced its first portable typewriter, the Klein Triumph, later the Durabel, with its development and sales and marketing coordinated with Adler.
Durabel: George Sommeregger Collection
Norm: Alan Seaver Collection
Triumph’s head design engineer at the time it produced its first portable was Carl Kupfer.
Tilman Elster Collection
Like the portable, Triumph’s Model 12 (above) was also sold as an Adler. This machine introduced a segment shift. With Berthold Baumann designing for it, Triumph was at the peak of its powers when World War II broke out. It had a workforce of 1800 and annual trade worth 15 million marks.
During the war, forced labourers are assigned to Triumph and ordered to make armaments. Typewriter production was suspended in 1942 and the next year the factory was severely damaged by Allied bombers.
The plant survived, however, and in the final days of the war, workers refused Nazi orders to destroy all the machinery and equipment before American troops arrived on April 20, 1945. Production slowly resumed the next month, including typewriters.
With Friedrich Wunderlich, whose design work for Triumph spanned the war years, and Rudolf Neidhardt working for it, Triumph quickly regained lost ground in the reconstruction period after the war. Triumph brought out its Matura office typewriter and in 1956 an electric Matura.
By the end of that year, the one million sales mark was reached for office machines and portable typewriters over a 47-year period since 1909, with half that number sold after 1945. The Norm and Perfekt portable typewriters had been introduced along with the Durabel in 1935, but after the war, the stylish remodelling of the Norm and the Perfekt ensured that Triumph maintained its very high reputation for design and for producing the highest quality machines.
At the end of 1957, Fürth-based radio and television set manufacturer Max Grundig (above) purchased Triumph share capital and used the company to buy a cross-shareholding in Adler’s Frankfurt plants. A new generation of family typewriters was named after Grundig’s granddaughter, Gabriele.
Is this "Gabriele"?
The Grundig Electronic-Triumph-Adler (GTA) joint sales organisation marked the practical start of the merger between Triumph and Adler. Development, production and administration were still separate entities, although Triumph and Adler worked in close collaboration.
One prime example of this association is this 1969 design by Gerhard Dietrich and Peterheinz Meyes of Fürth for Triumph, but for a Contessa-Gabriele portable typewriter which became much more widely recognised as an Adler.
The production programs were combined. In 1968 Triumph and Adler were fully integrated, becoming the fourth-largest office machine manufacturer in the world, behind the market leaders Olivetti-Underwood, Litton and Olympia. The next year the Gabriele 5000 portable electric typewriter was launched.
In 1969, Grundig’s move toward colour television led to him selling Triumph-Adler to the Litton Group, which had already taken over the Royal and Imperial typewriter companies.
In 1977, in an attempt to expand its manufacturing capacity and sales in the US, Triumph-Adler engulfed Royal. It was a move that had similarities with Olivetti’s takeover of Underwood in 1959, an investment which almost financially ruined Olivetti. The same thing happened to Triumph-Adler, except in this case Triumph-Adler did lose its identity, Within two years, sales losses had pushed Triumph-Adler into the red, and it was taken over by Volkswagen AG.
By 1983 Triumph-Adler typewriters were being sold under the “traditional brand names” of Adler, Imperial, Royal and Triumph. In 1985 the company changed its name to TA Triumph-Adler AG, and the next year it was taken over by Olivetti. Oh irony upon irony ...
Now, for a look at my Triumph portable typewriters: