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Wednesday 18 January 2012

Klein-Adler 2: Early European Portable Typewriter

Wim Van Rompuy at ( makes the point that the 1912 Klein-Adler 1 may have been the first European-designed "portable" typewriter. Klein means "small", but, as a scaled-down version of the heavyweight Adler 7, the first Klein-Adler could hardly be called "portable" in the sense that the lightweight, compact Blickensderfer, Standard Folding and Corona 3 were.
Below is the three-bank Klein-Adler 1 that was restored by our friend Tom Furrier in Cambridge, Massachusetts, last June:
The Klein-Adler 1 was also marketed in Britain and elsewhere as the Blick Universal.
Adlerwerke in Frankfurt (formerly Henry Kleyer AG) started making  a German Empire then, from 1900, the Adler 7, both under a licencing arrangement with Wellington Parker Kidder. The Adler 7 and Klein-Adler 1 clearly belong to the same family as Kidder's Wellington and Canadian Empire thrust-action typewriters, but the Klein-Adlers are more independent designs than the Adler 7 (below, from Guy Perard's collection).
Wim Van Rompuy says, "Whereas hardly any [European] manufacturers saw the benefit of a portable, Adlerwerke launched its Klein-Adler. It [was] a competitor to the Corona 3, but one that works according to thrust-action ... This makes it as flat as a pancake."
It wasn't until the Klein-Adler 2 was launched in 1925, however, that Europe had a small, easily transportable typewriter to compare with and rival those coming out of the US factories of Corona, Underwood and Remington.
Wims says that in France this model was called Adlerette, Adlerita in Spain and Adler Piccola in Italy.
Wim adds, "The Klein-Adler 2 is stern and angular, with a surprisingly 'modern' overprint - art deco to the last detail."
Who am I to argue with Wim, especially now that I too own one of these beauties?
Months ago I promised Adwoa I'd get out my Adler Favorit again to weigh and measure it for her, as she was considering buying one. I got it out, but forgot to do as Adwoa had asked, and then it went Terry Cooksley in Sydney to be serviced and then back into storage.
After the Klein-Adler arrived this afternoon, it took me ages to find the Favorit, so I could line the two up beside one another. What a surprise to find the Favorit is so much heavier and bigger all round. I definitely prefer the Klein-Adler.
Alan Seaver at Machines of Loving Grace says the Favorit "was introduced in 1935 as a 'kofferschreibmaschine': literally 'suitcase typewriter' but probably best translated as 'travel typewriter'."
This Klein-Adler 2 is the classic example of treasures going relatively cheaply on Australian eBay at the same time as buyers spend eight times (yes, eight!) as much on a so-called "funky" bright orange 1970s Adler Contessa. But more of that later.
To be fair, the listing for the Klein-Adler 2 really didn't do it all that much justice. But I could tell from the one image (see above) that the decals seemed to be in pretty good shape, so I figured there was a reasonable chance the rest of the machine would be, too:
Naturally, I am delighted with this "score". It arrived with the drawband unattached, but that took 30 seconds to fix. Also, as you will see from the photos here, one ribbon assembly is missing, but I have rigged up something on a temporary basis just so I could test the machine. And it has passed with flying colours ... flying like an eagle!
I love it, a real showpiece in my collection.
PS: Receiving this Klein-Adler 2 today gave me almost as much a thrill as I got from Adwoa's lovely handmade Christmas card arriving. It suffered a little from some of our summer rain, Adwoa, but finally arrived in one piece. Thank you so much! More than I can say for the Christmas card I sent Will Davis last year, which arrived back here months later (having been undelivered, of course) after having suffered quite seriously from some US rain!


Bill M said...

Beautiful typewriters. The eagle on the Favorit really makes it looks distinctive.

shordzi said...

The Eagle is a 1930 redesign of Walter Gropius (1883 - 1969), founder and director of the Bauhaus school.

Richard P said...

Really a lovely machine, congrats.

Robert Messenger said...

Thank you Bill and Georg. Glad you like the typewriter. That's useful to know, Georg, you seem able to read my mind!

Robert Messenger said...

Thank you, too, Richard.