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Wednesday 23 January 2013

Mercedes Selekta Portable Typewriter

I guess it was a bit much for me to expect to receive two perfect old typewriters in two days. Not that I am unhappy with this Mercedes Selekta. It's just not as 99.9 per cent perfect as yesterday's burgundy Everest. I knew when buying the Selekta that it had a broken or missing connection in the carriage lever mechanism. I think it's fixable, at least I hope it is. I think it's worth a punt when buying an old typewriter with some minor problem, depending on the price, of course. There is usually a good chance it can be righted fairly quickly. The Mercedes types very well, and I always consider that to be the most important thing.
I was extremely fortunate to be given a beautiful Mercedes Superba some years ago, when I was called by a listener during a rock 'n' roll radio show and offered it, so long as it went to a good home.  I prized it myself and held on to it, and it was in the typewriter exhibition last year. 
It is a surprisingly attractive typewriter, but I have long wanted to add the smaller version, the Selekta, to my collection of Mercedes typewriters, and believed the Selekta was equally appealing in appearance. Seeing one in the flesh for the first time this morning was no disappointment.
There are one or two small paint chips at the front and a slight crease in the left ribbon spool cover, but otherwise this typewriter is in excellent shape for its age. There are some really nice touches to the design, including the little thumb grip on the right side of the paper bail, which I like a lot. The T-shaped carriage lever is another distinctive feature. It has a QWERTY keyboard but also many German language characters. At some point a dollar and cent symbol typeslug has been added.
But there is still much on this machine I am going to have to find out about. Georg Sommeregger owns one and I think I am going to need Georg's help. The "TL" and "RL" switches at the front are either tab or margin setters, I guess - not sure which yet, and still don't know how to set the margins. There is a lockable key at the top left of the keyboard and I'm not sure about the ribbon direction switch. Is the switch on the left of the front of the machine a margin release? And what is the switch under the middle left side of the machine, a carriage lock?  I'm sure Georg will be able to fill me in with all the fine details.


Bill M said...

That is one very fine looking typewriter!

Martin A. Rice, Jr. said...

qwerty board, that is odd. I wonder if it was deliberately changed at some point in the past ... and, no, it wasn't me!

maschinengeschrieben said...

I have one, too. It doesn't work, though.

TL and RL are Tabulator löschen and Rand löschen - clear tabs, clear margins. You set the tabs with the two buttons that stick out in the front - tabs left, margins right.
I can't tell you from my memory what the other switches do, but I'll check that in the afternoon.

Richard P said...

A beautiful, classy typewriter.

Anonymous said...

I always love reading your reviews, Rob. They always describe a piece like this so well. I almost bought exactly the same machine at a auction, but i missed it by ONE BID. However, there are more then one fish in the sea.

D. Plante