20 May 2014

Another account of the London type-in

There's not much I can add to Rob and Piotr's accounts of Sunday's type-in, so my post will mostly be photographic, and I'll look at the individual typewriters used. I've also included a scan of one of the pages that got typed during the type-in, on the Harrods. We shuffled them around a bit so there are words from most of us.

The Harrods is an absolutely brilliant machine. I wasn't sure what to expect, given my love of late 1950s Torpedoes, with this being from the early '30s. It had a professional servicing before I bought it and it shows.

The first Kolibri I've ever used—the East Germans once again made an engineering marvel built up to a standard rather than down to a price. (Sorry, Empire Aristocrat) It came with this lovely green ribbon spool.

The Imperial needs a bit of work and cleaning up, but it still exceeded my expectations and I'm quite impressed with the touch.

The chips were rather good, too. The conversation was, of course, even better. Even though it's the only type-in I've been to, I'd say it's the best kind—informal and with food.

Sent from my Harrods Torpedo

13 May 2014

Post-war Rheinmetalls (1945-1962)

I had some extra time at the airport, so I finished putting together the next part of my East German portable typewriter series. The line of Rheinmetall portable typewriters, unlike the tangled web that is Erika, is very straightforward. Only one model was produced post-WWII, the KsT—a full featured deluxe portable with tabulator. Therefore this post will be much less involved than my posts on Erika and Robotron.

Although I recommended using the serial numbers for Erika and Robotron from Die Entwicklung der ehemaligen DDR-Schreibmaschinen-Produktion, I think the numbers currently in the typewriter database are better than in the named document. Up until 1958, the two lists agree, but after then, they don't line up. The current list ends at 1962 and corresponds well with my photo+serial number research. The DDR-Schreibmaschinen-Produktion list goes all the way to 1966, yet excludes a known serial number (it ends at 601842). Therefore I will ignore this list unless other evidence suggest I should do otherwise.

The KsT was produced from 1931 to 1962 and was based on the Stoewer portable. Manufacturing paused in 1940 before resuming in 1945. In the DDR, the KsT was produced by VEB Büromaschinenwerk Sömmerda. The brand Rheinmetall was used until 1960, and then Supermetall was used until 1962. Changes to the KsT were introduced incrementally, and I will attempt to arrange the developments in chronological order here.

All of the pictures in this post have been found on the internet and come from the collections of Richard Polt, Rob Messenger, 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.

273921 - 1948

The first post-war Rheinmetalls continue the same design from before the war. They seem to have not been made in some of the same extravagant color schemes from the 1930s, although I may be wrong.

279344 - 1948

299873 - 1951

The first major update to the KsT was introduced around 1950, with the addition of a more modern, streamlined ribbon cover. The main body and carriage appear to remain the same in this update. Originally the decals were green and gold.


320191 - 1952

Later on, particularly attractive silver and blue decals were used.


Rheinmetall KsTs made soon after the war were assembled and rebranded as Commodores. This entire situation is explored in depth on oz.typewriter.

The final version of this body style uses crinkle paint and lighter colored keys, with a raised nameplate rather than a decal as would be used on future Rheinmetalls.

Only 5 years later, the body style that is most often seen was introduced. I personally think this version of the Rheinmetall is one of the more attractive typewriters produced, and the wide array of colors offered (opposite the limited blacks and greys from before) only adds to the appeal.

At first, the Rheinmetalls in this new body style had the same old style circular keys and were offered in crinkle and gloss paints.

385388 - 1954

388309 - 1954

In 1954 or '55 the more top-heavy oval keytops were introduced, the rest of the typewriter remaining the same.

399528 - 1955

410003 - 1955
Between 1955 and 1956, the ribbon color selector was moved to the more conventional side location.

427659 - 1956

456544 - 1957

495936 - 1958

A new type of paper rest was introduced in 1957-58, around serial number 470,000, along with a new return lever. New, thicker keytops were also introduced. While all KsTs made after 1957 have the new paper rest fingers and return lever, they don't always have the new style of keys.

508555 - 1958

510462 - 1958

516913 - 1958

529942 - 1959

550664 - 1959

555582 - 1959

560842 - 1960

There exist a few interesting variations on the Rheinmetall, notably this one with a sticker rather than the normal plastic nameplate. The Rheinmetall logotype on the sticker doesn't match one I've seen anywhere else.

603607 - no branding



Based on information found on this website about the history of the VEB Büromaschinenwerk Sömmerda, manufacturer of the Rheinmetall typewriters as well as mechanical calculators and other office machines, the Rheinmetall name was replaced with Supermetall, and then in 1962, Soemtron. The 1962 name change reflected the move towards electronics production, and marked the end of the KsT line of typewriters.

629290 - 1962


630986 - 1962

631011 - 1962

Below is a Referent Super, located in France but with a German keyboard.

577821 - 1960

Aztec was a name used to export Erikas and Rheinmetalls to the US in the very early 60s. These are the 3 color variants I have seen.

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!