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Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Welco! Quality? It's a Citizen Typewriter. Or maybe a Nippo?

I am tied up at an International Sports History Conference this week, so I must apologise for neglecting this blog for the time being.
However, I had to find the time to correct myself after my June Typewriter Update, posted yesterday.
As I have said before, the Typewriter Gods work in mysterious ways.
I mentioned in the Update that soon after a Sanple portable typewriter appeared on Australian eBay, Richard Polt asked me about a Quality 003 which had turned up in Cincinnati. Then I stumbled across three Welcos, two in Motueka in New Zealand and one in India. I wondered if Nakajima or possibly even Nippo had had anything to do with these models. (The odd thing is that all the small portables mentioned here have either the Nakajima down-turned margin stops, or the Silver-Seiko up-turned ones.)
Anyway, I should have known better. The keyboard layout was a dead giveaway - I'd seen it before (it's based on the Olivetti Valentine's).
I woke up this morning to find listed on Australian eBay a Seville 4000. I knew I was familiar with that brand name. So I checked, and yes I had posted back in January last year on Citizen typewriters.
Much of this information comes from Will Davis's page on Citizen typewriters and the Konryu Corporation on Will's Portable Typewriter Reference Site. It can be seen here.
I had originally gone to Will's site because a Seville 3000 had appeared on Trade Me in New Zealand and I identified it as a Citizen Columbia XL. (My own Danish-keyboard Citizen X3 is a much larger machine, specifically designed for Citizen.)
It turns out that since then, in late May this year, an American typewriter collector and blogger called "GEE"  had posted on another Citizen Columbia XL. I must say the instruction manual for this looks decidedly Nippo to me. It has all the hallmarks.
Will Davis himself commented on this post, saying (in part), "I’ve seen maybe four or five of these over the years. One was bright yellow; mine is bright orange. The actual manufacturer of the machine itself was Konryu Corporation, Japan, who made a similar (but not identical) machine sold through other channels."
I should point out (as Will also mentions on his site) that one of Konryu's US-registered trademarks was Granada. Yes, you guessed it - Seville and Granada.
I think we can say with almost 100 per cent certainty that Richard Polt's Quality 003 is a Citizen typewriter. Which would mean the Welcos and the Sanple are also about 98 per cent certain to be Citizen typewriters. Richard did comment last night that "I hope someone can shed light on the origin of the Sanple/Welco/Quality creatures." I think the Seville 4000 did just that!
But wait ... the mystery deepens. Will points out a link between the Western Stamping Corporation of Michigan (better known as makers of Tom Thumb toy typewriters, before Jardine in Nottingham, England, took over) and Konryu. This link can be seen in US trademark documents, relating to the Granada brand name.
Now with this mention, Will shows a Collegiate typewriter.  I am willing to bet (a little) money that this Collegiate belongs to the very same Nippo family as Richard Polt's Baby Alpina, Mark Petersen's Clipper and my Rexina and Condor. Yes, Nippos! 
So there you have it ... as clear as mud. Citizen-Konryu-Nippo, a hitherto unknown Japanese Connection! Or is it?


Ted said...

Wow, I hope that these aren't too closely related to the "Western Stamping Co" Collegiate. I had one of those some time back and it's a horrible, toy-like typer with no redeeming qualities other than it does type after a fashion.

Robert Messenger said...

Thank you Ted. Now that I get a good look at it, thanks to you, it does look more like a Tom Thumb toy typewriter, and one that doesn't even seem to be in the class of the Albas, which were made by Antares (though it is similar). Oddly enough, I thought the Citizen Columbia XL looked suspiciously like the Antares-made Mercedes (also marketed as an Antares and an Underwood) a truly AWFUL typewriter, possibly the WORST ever. But the ribbon spools cover is decidedly Nippo. So the plot thickens even further ...

Richard P said...

Light dawns gradually ... thanks for your continuing research!