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!


  1. Added a few more Marques to the Database. (:

  2. Hi Nick,

    Thanks for putting this up, it's a beautiful read :)
    I'd be interested to send you pictures and serial number of a Rheinmetall in my collection. May I have your email address or let me know how I should send it to you? Thanks!

    Elaine (Singapore)

    1. my email is schreibstang at gmail dot com. thanks!

  3. Today I typed on my own Rheinmetall for the first time in over a year and I enjoyed every moment. Easy to use and efficient with some style = good typewriter. Ive got the garden variety Grayish-green. Some of those other color schemes are stunning!

  4. To be honest I really like my Rhenmetalls. All of them are incredibly good machines. A lot of people heap dislike onto them, but they seem to be just right under my own fingers. Great write-up.

    1. The same thing has been said for the Erikas, and I love mine to death and continuing. I really, really do need to get myself one and give them another chance. I think it was just the keyboard that kept throwing me off too much to enjoy it.

  5. And man.... Do I want that referent super!

  6. Thanks for the rundown. I think it's a fine line of typerwriters -- and I want one of those ivory ones!

    Good way to spend some spare time in an airport.

    1. They are definitely striking—something is wonderful about an all-ivory typewriter!

  7. I need to revisit mine. I mistakenly listed it on the TWDB as 1961 - I've corrected it now. Nice to see it featured on this excellent post.

    1. Glad that I could help! Yours is the newest non-Supermetall Rheinmetall I've seen. :)

  8. Another great write-up of German machines! But don't mind me asking, are there any pre-war researches coming up in the near future? ;-)

  9. Thanks a lot. I was very happy with the lovely grey KsT I just snapped up for a good price on eBay - and with your blog post which taught me lots and helped me work out that mine dates from 1956/7 - right up until I scrolled down and saw that amaaazing two-tone grass-green one! Aggghhhh! Now I'll never rest.

    1. Glad I could help. :) I know how you feel! The two-tone green ones are really lovely.