8 Apr 2014

Post-war Erikas (part 1, 1946-1965)

Erika portables made after WWII have always been a bit confusing to figure out. Hopefully this 2-part series helps clear things up as I compare model-by-model and introduce a long-needed full list of serial numbers online. Using the data in Die Entwicklung der ehemaligen DDR-Schreibmaschinen-Produktion, I have compiled a comprehensive serial number list that spans the entire history of Erika typewriters and fills in a number of gaps and fixes inaccuracies in the old list from tw-db. The new complete listing, almost finished, will soon be found on the Typewriter Database.

I don't actually currently own any Erikas from the era covered in Part 1, although I have owned two examples in the past, though neither was properly working and I've since parted with both. My only Erika currently is a Robotron Erika from the 1980s, but I hope to soon add others. :)

1928-1991 Erika timeline

click to enlarge

All of the pictures in this post have been found on the internet and come from the collections of Tilman Elster, Richard Polt, Rob Messenger, Georg Sommeregger, Vilhelm Dromberg, myself, and other typospherians, as well as current and ended online auctions, and are presented purely as examples essential to this post. No infringement intended.

All typewriters with serial numbers indicated have been dated using the list at the bottom of the post. Regarding the numbers; there are a number of different sources that all slightly contradict each other. The source I am using is the newest and most complete one available.

This post will be edited when new information becomes available, especially with model examples. If you have an example with a serial number and photo, please let me know because every piece of information connecting age with finish/colors helps!

Models 5, 6, M, and S: 1946-1949

The old Erika models 5, 6, M, and S were produced by Seidel & Naumann unchanged for some time after WWII, with production ending in 1949 (except for in 1948 for Model S) with the creation of Seidel & Naumann VEB Dresden by the new East German government.

1155866 - 1949

Model 8: ~1949 to 1952

Erika Model 8, the first new model introduced after WWII, is easily confused with the more common Model 9. It is distinguished by having a differently-shaped ribbon cover where the protrusion around the typebars begins at the edge of the ribbon cover, rather than in slightly. The later, more common version of the 8's ribbon cover is also more rounded than the 9's and has a tabulator. It seems that the 8 never had plastic keys.

When introduced, the 8 had a more boxy ribbon cover and no chrome stripe. Most of the Model 8s you will see have a more attractive rounded cover with a chrome stripe. If anybody has any more information on the Model 8, I'd be very interested to know.

1146838 - 1949

1186373 - 1951

1190666 - 1952

1195290 - 1952

Model 9: ~1949 to 1954

You will note that the S&N emblem is still present on the ribbon covers of the Model 8 and the earliest Model 9s. Below the spacebar you can see "Seidel & Naumann VEB Dresden" which would quickly be known only as VEB Dresden. "VEB" stands for Volkseigener Betrieb (roughly, People's Enterprise).

The following photos show the numerous variations I have found. None have a tabulator. They all have the older style black, squared-off case. By the end of 1950, the S&N decal was dropped. In 1952, glass keys were replaced with plastic keys.

1307224 - 1950

1320257 - 1952

1332001 - 1953

1333174 - 1953

1334989 - 1953

Bijou - 1327312 - 1952

The Erika 9 was also made as a Bijou in this lovely green color, using the export name that Seidell & Naumann used before the war.

Bijou - 1330573 - 1953

Model 11: 1954-1960

Model 11 replaced Models 8 and 9 in 1954, therefore it was never manufactured by Seidel & Naumann. It is the last design that follows the lines of the Model 8. You can easily tell the difference by looking at the ribbon cover—the raised section around the typebars is gone, the chrome stripe (always present) is actually two separate pieces that do not meet in the middle, and the Erika logo is now located where the S&N logo once was.

At some point in the Model 11 line, the newer style rounded case was introduced. It seems like the paint variations in color and texture on the late-40s, early-50s Erikas were available at the same time, rather than one after the other.

2013401 - 1954

2026715 - 1956

2054529 - 1960

2042022 - 1958

2038839 - 1958

Model 10: 1952-1963

The 10 is the model that most people think about when they think of post-WWII Erikas. They were the longest-lived model before Robotron, and some varieties very closely resemble the Model 12, to be clarified below.

As with the 11, the Model 10 always has plastic keys. The earliest Model 10s (1952-53) have larger Erika logos on the ribbon cover, painted dots indicating the ribbon color selector, and a slightly different segment. At the beginning of the line, the old style black case was used, but at some point it was changed to a rounded case very similar to the Erika 11's with a leather texture. I have also seen a hard case that strongly resembles the case used by Torpedo in the late 50s and early 60s.

1714308 - 1953

1723856 - 1953

1752834 - 1955

1761906 - 1955

1768344 - 1956

1767645 - 1957
1818261 - 1957

1902737 - 1959

1915537 - 1960
In 1960, thicker keytops were introduced.

1941813 - 1960

1972960 - 1961

Bijou was an export name used in many countries, including Finland. The Irene Super was sold in West Germany by Quelle. In the United States, the Aztec brand was used. I own a Continental that is actually an Erika 10, the only example I've ever seen of the Conti name applied to another typewriter.

Irene Super

Aztec 700

Erika Super





Continental - 1789076 - 1956
The Oriental below has a decal in the same style as the Continental above. It also has a separate decal in Arabic, but the keyboard is Polish.


Late 1959, the Erika 10 underwent a restyling. The chrome stripe around the ribbon cover was removed and the Erika logo was changed and moved to the right side. (although a few 10s continued to have the old style logo throughout 1960, and others retained the chrome stripe) Quite a few attractive duotone color schemes were introduced. All have the newer style leather texture or hard cases. Originally the new logo had red lettering, but between 1960 and 1961 that changed to reflect the color scheme of the typewriter.

1890521- 1959

1911349 - 1960

1942389 - 1961

A newer style logo was introduced between 1961 and 1962.

1962 - 1985748

Alternate brands of the late Erika 10.

Irene Super


Optima Super

Aztec 700

Aztec 700 - 1930103 - 1960

This Erika 10 was rebranded as an Optima for sale in the US, and the one below (Optima Humber 88) was rebranded for sale in Canada. Production of the actual Olympia-descended Optima portable had ceased in 1961, so this likely dates from 1961 to 1963, end of Model 10 production.

Optima Humber 88 - 1958030 - 1961

The gradual changes introduced in the Erika 10 line were not always straightforward, even the new plastic logo was not consistently adopted by all 10s at one point.

Model 12: 1960-1963

The Model 12 is often confused for the Model 10. The two look very similar, but there is a surefire way to determine whether it's a 10 or a 12—look at the keys. There are two fewer keys on the Model 12's top row than on the Model 10. This was introduced around the same time as the Model 10 restyling, and is essentially a stripped-down version of the 10.

The 12 appears to only have the flatter style keytops, that are of an earlier design, while the late 10 often (but not always) has thicker keytops seen on other later models, such as the 14/15. They are never found with a chrome stripe around the ribbon cover.

As with the 10, the logo style was changed between 1961 and 1962.

2098989 - 1963

I have seen this rebranded as an Ursula, which appears to have been a brand used by Kaufhof in West Germany. The orange logo matches the striking case. The first Ursula, serial number 3006797, actually has a higher number than records show for model 12 (which allegedly ended at 3002800).

3006797 - 1963


Aztec 500 - 2077245 - 1962

This Aztec 700 is interesting because it has a German keyboard—most others known were exported to the US. It's also odd because usually a Model 12 Aztec is called a 500. Below it is an Aztec 500 with German keyboard.

Aztec 700
Aztec 500 - 2090127

Model 14/15: 1963-1965

Thankfully, the confusion of 10 and 12 ends in 1963. From here on, the stripped-down versions of Erikas were released and given their own model number at the same time as the more-featured version. The first instance of this is the Model 14/15.

The Model 14 is essentially a 10 in a plastic housing, although all examples I have found seem to lack a color selector. There are no important changes to the mechanical design. The 14/15 appears to use the softer leatherette texture case of the Model 10. By the end of the 14/15 run, the case style has changed again to the black with red lining that was used for many years afterwards.

It was also exported as the Aztec 14. The Russian-keyboard red Aztec 14 has a color selector unlike all other Erika 14s I have seen. I'm not sure if the red is original or not, but it's owned by Robert Messenger so he may have repainted it.

Aztec 14

Aztec 14

Optima 14 - 2155792


Irene Super

The Model 15 is like a Model 12 in the new plastic body—a stripped-down 14.



A rebranded Optima version was sold in Finland, and an Ursula for West Germany.


Model 20: 1960-1962

Model 20 was introduced around the same time as Model 12 and had segment shifting. The Model 14/15 introduced after the 20 was discontinued still used the old carriage shift design. Not much is known about the Model 20, but thanks to Piotr for finding this photo. The 20 is a completely different typewriter compared to the 10, and seems like it is a continuation in the spirit of the Modell M. If anybody has any more information on the Model 20, I'd be very interested to know.


4000214 - 1960

I've been made aware of three Erika 20s, all with Russian keyboards (looks like we know why this already uncommon model is so hard to find with a German keyboard! Many were exported to the USSR.) It can be seen that the style of the Erika logo changed between serial numbers 4000214 and 2002249. The burgundy model 20 is probably a repaint, originally silvergreen.

1961 - 4002249

1961 - 4002564

1961 - 4009303

This one has had the keys and carriage knobs replaced.

Serial numbers
from Die Entwicklung der ehemaligen DDR-Schreibmaschinen-Produktion

Models 5, 6, M, and S
1130201 1944 1944-1947 numbers run from 1130201 to 1146600
1945 See 1944
1946 See 1944
1947 See 1944
1146601 1948 Model S ended 1948
1155592 1949 Models 5, 6, and M ended 1949. Seidel & Naumann Erika production taken over by VEB Dresden
Model 8
1166601 1950
1180001 1951
1191481 1952 Model 8 ended 1952
Model 9
1300000 1950
1308791 1951
1318401 1952
1327531 1953
1335171 1954 Model 9 ended 1954
Model 10
1700001 1952
1706581 1953
1731801 1954
1754961 1955
1782291 1956
1806161 1957
1837591 1958
1868121 1959
1905201 1960
1942001 1961 1961-1962 numbers run 1942001 to 2120000
1962 See 1961
2120001 1963 Model 10 ended 1963
Model 11
2010001 1954
2015001 1955
2024871 1956
2030401 1957
2037001 1958
2044301 1959 1959-1960 numbers run from 2044301 to 2055295
1960 See 1959. Model 11 ended 1960
Model 12
2057001 1960 Production begins 4/1960
2066801 1961
2083001 1962 1962-1963 numbers run from 2083001 to 3002800
1963 See 1962. Model 12 ended 1963
Model 20
4000201 1960 Production begins 9/1960
4000478 1961 1961-1962 numbers run 4000478 to 4014887
2083001 1962 See 1961. Model 20 ended 2/1962
Model 14
2200001 1963 2200001 to 2232342
Models 14 and 15 produced from 2/1963 to 6/1965
Model 15
3000001 1963 3000001 to 3072158
Models 14 and 15 produced from 2/1963 to 6/1965


Die Entwicklung der ehemaligen DDR-Schreibmaschinen-Produktion reports that 7 typefaces were offered on ~1949-1965 Erikas: Pica, "17/2 vorher 120", Großpica, Perl, Imperial-Pica, Imperial-Elite, and Kleinblock. It doesn't include specimens, though.


All of the typewriters you have seen on this page are carriage-shifted (except for Model 20) and represent the first major stage of Erika production in the DDR. The next part begins with the introduction of the first segment-shift portables in 1965 and how all typewriter manufacturers in the DDR were eventually consolidated into Robotron. (Although by 1965, Erika was the only portable typewriter manufacturer left, with the possible exception of Rheinmetalls which may have been produced until 1966, rather than 1962 as it is commonly thought)


Die Entwicklung der ehemaligen DDR-Schreibmaschinen-Produktion (Frensel, 1999)

Thanks especially to Georg Sommeregger, Ted Munk, and Piotr Trumpiel for their excellent help.

Also of interest

This post was last edited 6 November 2015.


  1. Ahh, more good additions. I've moved Eureka and Aztec over to be Marques of S&N/Erika and added Ursula as a Marque. Interesting, that Ursula sighting/photo was one I took at MTE of a customer's machine, but I had no idea it was an Erika. Somewhere around here I have pics of the owner's manual I'll have to dig up. (:

    1. Any idea how it got here to the US? It could have been as simple as a modern import from Germany via ebay, although it could have a story behind it too.

    2. nope, Bill just said the customer found it somewhere and wanted to trade it for an electric - a deal I almost went for, but the machine was in bad mechanical shape and I didn't realize what it was anyway. Next time I'm down there I'll probe a bit more for info.

  2. Optima's are rebranded Erika's? Wow!

    Great write-up Nick! I'm looking forward too the next part(s).

    1. Only after 1961. Before that they descended from Olympias.

      Of course, after 1969 they technically were not rebranded Erikas but just a brand of Robotron, but I'll save the details of that for the next part.

  3. So should my Optima, #1876429 of 1961 be listed in the database as an Optima or an Erika Model 10 or as an Erika Optima? Thanks for the research!

    == Michael Höhne

    1. Definitely do not classify it as an Erika 10—it is an Optima, after all. I'll further address the reclassifying in database issue in the next part where it can get much more involved.

      I think you should go with either calling it an Optima, 10 or an Erika, Optima 10

    2. Ha, ha, ha! I went to compare your photo of the Optima with my machine to be sure we are talking about the exact same model and by gum! waddya know! --- it's my photo! I am truly honored and glad to be of service. Also glad to know it _is_ the same model.

      == Michael Höhne

  4. Solid piece of work! Glad to be of some help :)

  5. Wow! A grand line-up of great looking Erikas! That is one tremendous amout of work. Thank you for sharing it. One day I hope to add at least on Erika, but all buying must wait until I finally get moved.

  6. Brilliant research! This will be a valuable reference page.

    Spider's and Michael's questions are tough because of the fluidity of brand names in communist countries.

    1. I'm working on a suggestion for some kind of order to the different brand names that is going to be particularly necessary with the post-1969 Erikas.

      See my reply to Michael's comment. If a typewriter isn't called an Erika, then it definitely needs to be called what it is. I guess it's a matter of personal choice whether he calls it an Optima or an Erika Optima.

  7. A great reference. I never realised there were so many variants!

    1. It's a bit of a tangled web, but a beautiful one.

  8. I have a What I think is a model 5 which I got out of its black case today - my children could not believe what they were seeing with their smartphones tweetering like crazy!

    1. I mean a Model 5 Erika

  9. Hello all - I have a light olive green Erika, looks similar to picture above (1714308). Erika in silver lettering in middle of case above keyboard. The unusual aspect of this model is that the keyboard is a mix of English and Greek (or Russian?) lettering. Any ideas what I may have? Thanks

    1. Could you send me a photo? It's hard to say anything unless if I can see the keyboard you're referring to. schreibstang at gmail dot com

    2. OK, will do now. Thanks for the reply and help

  10. Brilliant research, thank you very much. I keep on coming to this page because it holds such a great amount of very good and valuable information.

    I don't know how, but this page has a typewriter that I own. The Erika 9 with S/N 1333174 is in my collection for some months now. Funny to find my own typewriter on a website.
    Will put it on m own website and the typewriterdatabase soon as well.

    1. I'm glad that it has been useful for so many people. I first wanted to do the research for my own personal benefit but these two Erika pages have turned out to be my most popular posts.

      I think I found that image from an ebay listing, so you must have bought it!

  11. Your whole blog is simply THE place to do research on Ericas on the internet. Great job!

    Yes, I bought the No.9 from eBay. Funny thing is that the pictures do not show the real color. It looks like a dark grey on the picture (and I thought I will buy a grey one on ebay, too) but in fact it is a deep black.
    The grey look is because light gets reflected from these little "sparkle things" inside the color. It is hard to describe. I was blown away when I opened the box.
    I will try to make better pictures than the eBay seller, but I am not sure, if I will succeed. Hard to take photos of something that reflects light ...

    Anyway - I am absolutely jealous about that black Erika 11 of yours. What a find! Absolutely amazing.

    If you ever need help with a buy in or from Germany, feel free to let me know. (f.e. if the seller is not willing to ship worldwide)

    1. It's often difficult to capture the true look of crinkle paint in photos. But I can tell from experience that your Erika is a really beautiful one indeed!

      Thanks for your offer—I think I might eventually make use of that some day. But at this time, I'm not buying very many new machines.

  12. Where can I find the serial number on the Model 10?

    1. On the right rear corner once you move the carriage all the way to the left, or else on the underside of the frame.

  13. Hello, I have one Erika 20 with big carriage, so I can give you some photos if you need.

    1. That would be very useful! You can email them to the address found on the "Contact" page.