Total Pageviews

Thursday 2 February 2012

The Condor Has Landed! My Mysterious New Typewriter

Spotted in Switzerland
Acquired in America
Alighted in Australia
Adwoa in Switzerland saw it on Etsy and alerted her circle of friends on Google+ (see below, as it appeared on Etsy).
I joined her circle a couple of weeks later, just after Christmas, saw the Condor, liked it a lot (the mysteriousness of it appealed as much as the look) and checked it out: Still for sale, right price, wrong country - for sale in the US only.
My good friend Richard Polt agreed to step in and help me out. He did the deal with Kringles Country Store in Sanborn, New York, had the typewriter posted to him in Cincinnati, then very carefully repacked it (it is brittle!) in a large box which had once contained a Sholes & Glidden, and shipped it on to me in Australia.
It arrived in Canberra today.
The Condor had landed at its final destination!
Richard felt confident it was a close match with his Japanese-made Alpina Baby (see below), and sure enough when the Condor arrived in Cincinnati, he checked it out and found the two machines were identical except for the namebadges. “Even the serial numbers are close,” said Richard. “Alpina Baby: 373227; Condor: 373440.” (Secretly, I had been coveting Richard's Alpina Baby for a very long time.)
Richard had also been assured by Will Davis that his Alpina Baby was made by Nippo in Japan. When Richard and I compared the Condor’s handbook with the one for my Nippo P-200, the typefaces and layout were the same.
Then when the Condor arrived here, I immediately put it beside my Nippo Atlas and moved the carriages: the mechanism inside them was identical. There are differences around the segment and on top of the carriage, but similar chrome work under the ribbon cover. And beneath all this – it’s the same machine. So, yes, it’s yet another mysterious Nippo typewriter.

Will Davis says these machines were manufactured by the Nippo Machine Company of Yokohama. He has traced the heritage of the Atlas to the Dutch-made Halberg and, though perhaps to a lesser degree, of the P-100 and P-200 (aka Argyle). But the Condor-Alpina Baby? How did Nippo get hold of the Alpina badge? And where did this seemingly independent design come from? Will we ever know?
What we do know is that international typewriter lovers’ care and cooperation works a treat. So a big thanks to Adwoa and Richard. I love the latest addition to my collection, the flighty Condor.


Cameron said...

This is an example of the Typosphere at its best and finest -- people cooperating to make this flight of the Condor possible. Hooray, Adwoa & Richard!

Adwoa said...

Great teamwork, everyone! Yay!

Robert, I am very happy this worked out so well; there is nothing quite like receiving a typewriter that has been lovingly packed by a fellow enthusiast! And it works well, too, and looks very nice.

Robert Messenger said...

Thank you Cameron and Adwoa. Great comments! Well said, Cameron, I couldn't agree more. And yes, Adwoa, our little team really clicked together on this one. As they say in Australia, Richard Polt's blood is worth bottling (it's the supreme compliment, in case you're wondering!)

Bill M said...

Very interesting journey of a typewriter. It is a nice machine. I like Cameron's description "flight of the Condor." Seems the typosphere is a lot like the cooperation among ham radio operators. Congratulations on your latest typewriter.

Richard P said...

It was a pleasure to help. I don't think I want my blood bottled, though!