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Sunday 9 September 2012

Seeking Solace in a Continental Portable Typewriter

In my haste to leave the building a week ago, I pressed "publish" instead of "close" and later found I'd committed thoughts and words to the Typosphere without including, as planned, images and a typecast.
The portable typewriter to which I referred in that post is this beautiful Continental. It is one of the machines I have taken out of storage. Even while it was locked away in the dark there (or perhaps because it was locked away in the dark), every time I looked at it, it cried out to me, "Type with me ... type with me ...."
So I have:

The Continental 340 is a direct descendant of the Wanderer Klein-Continental. The serial number on mine is R409742, which must make it a very close sibling of Florian's 340 (below), serial number R408753.
Florian dates his 340 as being from 1942. He has a very interesting post comparing various Continental portables here.
On the Wanderer Klein-Continental page of his Sommeregger's Sammelsurium (smorgasbord) website, here, Georg Sommeregger looks at his gorgeous dark blue Continental (below), which he says is a model 50 or 100 and dates from 1941-42.
Georg says these portables were produced from 1929 to 1948. "In 1933, the model 34, then 35, 50 and in 1938 100 came on the market."
This lovely faux woodgrain Continental was at one time for sale at Scott McNeill's Vintage Typewriter Shoppe.
It is, however, difficult to follow the Continental serial numbers sequence in the Typewriter Age Guide, except that anything above 255,001 and below 500,001 appears to have been made sometime between 1939 and 1946.
Here is the list from Dirk Schumann's Typewriter Database:
up to 10000 1930 (starting 1929)
30000 1932
50000 1933
60000 1934
100000 1936
New Model
up to 215000 1936
240000 1937
Richard Polt's Continental, serial number R257169, which he dates to 1938. See here.
Model 100 (starting 1938)
Runs in same serial numbers,
as with the new model of the Klein-Continental
274000 1938
307000 1939
329000 1940
338000 1941
355000 1942
373000 1943
380000 1944
500000 1946
501368 to 508240 1947
Florian's Continental 100, see here
Klein-Continental 34, W34
up to 105000 1933
108500 1934
Klein-Continental or Wanderer W35
up to 123345 1935 (starting 1934)
137000 1936
over 137000 1937
Klein-Continental or Wanderer W50
150000 1937
175000 1938
250000 1939
300000 1940
350000 1941
410000 1942
425000 1948

Alan Seaver's Continental, serial number 501962, which he dates to 1947. See here.
The Finnish Typewriter Museum has this 350 (serial number R189864), which dates from 1939:
And these two 340s (the top one from 1937, R146537, and the second one undated, R160270):
Here is another colour variation:
Some more images of my own Continental:


Scott K said...

Brilliantly researched as usual. These machines are very aesthetically interesting too... Although I don't think you have listed any of these in your top writers, so I'm guessing for long-haul work, they're probably not idea.

Thanks for the post. Great stuff as usual.

Catch you Tuesday!

Richard P said...

Thanks for the overview of the Continental portables, I am far from expert in their variations. I can say that my own Continental works very well -- it has a great touch and is super-smooth.

Miguel Chávez said...

What an interesting design. Too bad those prewar European models are next to impossible to find in Mexico; in most cases the brands didn't even make it here, or at least I never heard from them.

The general layout reminds me a bit of the Underwood four bank portable; think there could be a stylistic or design relation between them?

L Casey said...

Those Continentals are striking little machines. I look forward to an increase in your blogging activity, Robert. The only thing that could makes these articles better is if there were more of them!

michaeliany said...

as always a quality post!

i got to type on one of these before i found at an antique store about 2 months ago and it was surprisingly nice. unfortunately price tag was $250 and no case. so i passed... i wonder if its still there

Bill M said...

I never knew there were so many variations of the Continental. Thank you for the wonderful post and all those beautiful typewriters.

maschinengeschrieben said...

A very nice overview over the Continentals. As my 340 was my first find, they're among my favorites. Touch-wise as well. All my posts on the 100 can be accessed via the Continental 100 Label.

Cameron said...

There is something very clear and crisp and artful about the typeface on this one -- I really like it!

Nick Bodemer said...

I just bought a Continental, Serial Number R094656 (1933) from an antique dealer in Seattle. His wife's family friend brought it over from Germany. It works very well, and has a nice, peppy touch. I even prefer it to my Olympia SM-3, SM-4, and SM-7! It has a QWERTY layout--I think it was reconditioned at some point--other than the location of the Y and Z, it has a German keyboard. It was apparently cleaned in 1976 by Ti-Fa Typewriter (operated by a Hungarian refugee).

Unknown said...


I have a Continental Wanderer. I am selling it on behalf of my brother-in-law. It belonged to his father who left Germany in the late 30's. It's in good nick except for the fact that the hammers are all gummed up. I have been looking for the serial number for date of mnfg but can't find it.
Where to I look? Thanks very much.
Alan Smith

bet said...

Thanks for this post Robert. Having read it, and some posts at Florean's blog, finally have acquired a Continental 340 that types and looks awesome.
The model looks like some of the pictures in the post, have just one paper feed knob on the right, and no ribbon color selector. The serial number is R193210. I couldn't find any online manuals for it, and I was wondering if it has some carriage lock to transport it, and if the only way to release the margins is the knob at the back. Thanks again!

Unknown said...

Nice article, and nice research you have done. Beautiful typewriters, and as yours, my favorite too. And it seems like we have almost the same model with the same hungarian character set.

ojibway said...

thanks for all the wonderful information on the little (klein) Continental portable.
Today I picked one up at our local rubbish tip - yes, they have a shop!
This one has only CONTINENTAL across the top and on the small right-hand panel with the "W" logo on the left panel.
It is a German model with "UMSCHALTER" and "FESTSTELLER" on the caps key and on the right "RUCKTASTE" plus an umlaut key.
The serial number is R071040 so, it looks to be from 1935 or 1936.
It seems to be in very good condition cosmetically (case too) but 3 to 9 keys stick and the carriage doesn't seem to have the stops-per-strike (?). It just goes right across. I can't find a lever to engage this.
But I am very pleased with it!

Saul Neto said...

I have got a Continental Portable. It doesn't have any decals or any other indication of brand and model. Do you know how to differ the 340 and the 350? Is w34 the same a 340? I read it somewhere that the 34 is 340 in Switzerland.