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Thursday, 1 August 2013

Under a Rock With a Presumptuous Troll, Over The Moon With The Unprepossessing Yet Holy Grail Erika 9 Portable Typewriter

*Since writing this, I have become aware that the Erika Model 9 is available in a shiny black finish. I believe Georg Sommeregger has one. One (dated 1949) sold just a fortnight ago on eBay (from Germany) for $US191, after 45 bids (see bottom of post). I can well understand why. I will keep my eye out for one in shiny black for myself, now that I know how good the Model 9 is. But of course I will be very interested to know if its typing quality differs in any way from my 'horrid' gray one.
Also, in my typecast, I referred to a Model 8 when I meant a Model 5 as the Erika I have most frequently used in the past. The Model 8 Erika is the Model 9 with a tabulator (which I never use anyway).
A rough translation of Leonhard Dingwerth's description of the immediate post-war activities with Erika is this: "And yet, in the scanty remains of the once thriving company, work started in late May 1945, with the makeshift repair of some factory premises and facilities. A little later work was started in a modest way with the whole assembly of typewriters. The dismantling of the plant in the fall of 1945 and spring of 1946, as part of reparations, hampered the reconstruction until the summer of 1946. But already in the late autumn of that same year there was again talk of a regulated (?) pre-war model of Erika. 
"Meanwhile, the company Seidel & Naumann was expropriated and on 30 October 1945 was passed to the administration of the government of Saxony. A trustee continued the business. Through a referendum on 30 June 1946, the operation had become public property. The name was first Mechanik formerly Seidel & Naumann VEB. On 1 September 1951, the plant of VEB Mechanik formerly Clemens Müller [makers of Urania, Perkeo] was merged and was dubbed VEB Typewriter Works Dresden. In 1954, after the production of sewing machines (Clemens Müller) was significantly increased, it became VEB Writing and Sewing Machine Works Dresden. A year earlier it had the Saxon typewriters typeslugs factory Wilhelm Neumann incorporated as a unit, but the operation had to close in 1954 due to fire protection reasons (?).
In the autumn 1947 there were 890 employees at the plant, including design engineers, who had the task of developing a new Erika [portable typewriter]. In 1949 a new Erika could be put on the market, Model 8 with tabulator, shortly after the Erika 9 with no tab. And for the Oriental (?) writings a Erika 90 was developed.

Sold on eBay last month:


Miguel Ángel Chávez Silva said...

Whoever this "concerned typospherian" is, and whatever his message was, he definitely doesn't represent me, or as far as I know, any of the "real" typospherians, those of us who like, appreciate, use, collect and admire typewriters. For one thing, a "real" typospherian would not call ANY typewriter "horrible", because, simply put, a real typospherian appreciates the ingenuity, the design features and the utter wonderful technological achievment and human enterprises involved in producing every typewriter and bringing them to the market. Those who label a typewriter as "horrid" for whatever reason (its looks, perhaps?), are NOT viewing the machine in the same light as we typospherians, and should be embarrassed to pretend to represent the views of the other members of the community. Heck, none of us has ever tried to represent the views of the group and determine what is a "good" or a "bad" typewriter, because each and all of us has his/her own ideas and preferences, and we respect them. One of the keystones of this online community is precisely that we all respect and appreciate each others blogs and machines, even when we don't personally like some of them (and I should know, being one who openly talks about including electrics and wedges in his collection, in spite of the general disliking to those electronic, plastic-bodied machines among the notables of the community).

And speaking of notables, if there's a strong pillar of the Typosphere at large, that's you, Robert. Thanks to your thoroughly interesting and well researched articles, all of us have learned a lot of things about our beloved machines. Putting together a blog is no easy feat, and I know it; putting together an average of 2, 3 or more entries EVERY DAY is an Herculean task, and that deserves not only respect, but gratitude from the real members of the Typosphere.

So, chin up, mate! Whoever this troll is, he does not represent at all the *real* members of the Typosphere, and of course he/she shouldn't put you down. Your blog is not only a work of art, it's also a work of love, and it shows. Only a person as dedicated as you can keep this enormously ambitious blog going day after day, presenting us with new information on a subject that, for most of us, would have dried out a long time ago. I really thank you for all the interesting things I've learned from your blog, and ask you humbly not to stop publishing it. Like you said, in two+ years of blogging you've only had to delete two comments. Please don't let the missplaced opinions of one person ruin to you the fun and satisfaction of writing such an interesting column.

BTW, for what it's worth: I too own an Underwood 4-bank in the same Woody color scheme, and I think it looks FANTASTIC. And it also works very well!

Jasper Lindell said...

I'm sorry to hear you were subjected to stupendous missives from a so-called concerned Typospherian. Frankly, I hope they bugger off before they carry on misrepresenting us.

Your regular talk of holy grails has led me to think there was a collectable set of them, not just "the one"!

Bill M said...

Death to the troll and long live you and the typosphere!

That is a nice Erika.

I enjoy all of your posts -- please never give up and leave the typosphere. I learn everytime I visit here. I may not always post a comment due to time (or my laziness).

I am always amazed at how much history and detail you can dig-up about typewriters, writers, patents, and many many other things related to the typosphere. I wish I had a fraction of the time you must put into all of this.

And the Underwood, I have a red wood grained one I love. I am in the process of very slowly cleaning it and saving to get the platen restored (and maybe the pressure rollers if JJ Short can do them). I did get several pounds of fine rubber recently though -- new tires on the car, now for my SUV. I figure by 2014 I'll again have spare money for platens.

Keep up the excellent work Robert.

Scott Kernaghan said...

Trolls are turd-munchers. Try motto pay them much mind. I've had death-threats online, and I avoid letting it get to me.

On another note, the Bijou 5 that you gave me is still one of my top all time favorites. It is a thing of beauty, and such a wonderful piece of engineering. May your Erica 9 be just as loved as that Bijou.

TonysVision said...

P.S. For heaven's sake, please don't fret about responding to my letter. I write them for the fun of using my typewriters, and to provide the pleasure to the recipient of finding real mail in their mailbox. Certainly not to induce anxiety, or inhibit the flow of your wonderful blog, which, like Miguel points out, establishes you as the pillar of the typospherian community.

Ted said...

Ditto on Miguel's most eloquent sentiments. (:

notagain said...

First, that's a nice-looking machine and I'll take your word for the action on it. Second, I will never understand how much time and effort people are willing to expend to be mean to one another. It must be an essential element of human nature as it's so common. Your blog is (deservedly) much more popular than mine so it will attract attention whores. just delete and forget - that's what I do.

Richard P said...

I've never had a chance to try an Erika 9, but it's a neat-looking model and I'm happy to read your report.

Sorry that you have encountered some unpleasant and abusive comments. It is hard not to let them get under your skin.

Scott Kernaghan said...

*not to, not motto. Damn smell cheque.

toronto guy said...

Sorry to hear about that. But in my experience insofar as dealing with trolls, that was pretty mild. I've been a member of some other online collector forums where some trolls have made threatening phone calls to people after sleuthing them down. Quite creepy. I prefer using a pseudonym as a mini force-field against such potential creeps and stalkers. There's an internet expression that goes "don't feed the trolls" and I've personally found that to be the best strategy. Please do carry on with this wonderful blog of yours.

Ted said...

Oh, and you're going to be uploading your machines to the database sometime-ish? That's great news! :D

Can't wait to see your collection start showing up - I'm sure you'll be representing a great many brands that up till now haven't seen much action. (:

Jose Olmo said...

I am appreciative of all your hard work in creating such an informative blog. Plus I know that many would agree with me.
Unfortunately there will always be an undesirable person with those cheap comments.
You have a wonderful collection and your Underwood is beautiful! Ignore the ‘horrid’ ignorant!