|Typewriters from Australia: A World Apart.|
|Will Davis / Robert Messenger / Richard Amery|
|Very early on in my collecting career, I was lucky enough to acquire the machine you see at left; it's labeled as ATLAS and came to me from Australia. I won it on e-Bay, and waited for what seemed like forever for it to arrive - and when it did, I was stymied. Here was a machine more totally unlike anything referenced in anything or anywhere than any I'd yet encountered, and also here was a machine with absolutely NO mark of who made it. It had instructions, but they didn't say who made it either. I began to look at Australian e-Bay a lot, and noticed a large number of Japanese-made machines and also a number of others in models not seen here in the USA. I went on to make somewhat of an e-mail acquaintance with the late Bruce Beard, who sent a pile of instruction manuals from machines sold in his native Australia. That was a while back, though, and Australia got a bit quiet typewriter-wise...|
|...that is, until now (September 2007) when I was contacted by Australian typewriter collector and researcher Robert Messenger about the Nippo P-200 at right. He has bought, used and sold very many kinds of typewriter over the years and has quite a collection of machines and photos. He has been kind enough to send a large number of them, and many of them illustrate machines known to us but in models, styles and/or colors not available in the United States. We will show these on this and following pages, and identify what they "really are" and any other features that are important. You might call this an "Australian Portables Spotting Guide for Advanced Collectors" since it mostly only applies there - but it's fascinating stuff nonetheless.|
|Here, we see Robert Messenger with a literal pile of portables -- topped by a great EMPIRE of the famous Wellington-Empire-Adler ilk.
Robert informs us that the situation regarding typewriters in Australia has always been somewhat different to that found in many places since no machines were actually made there from start to finish. Some machines, such as Remingtons, were imported in parts and assembled there, but it's always been "made elsewhere" for the majority of typewriters sold in Australia.
Robert has sent a good deal of written historical information about the whole typewriter business in Australia, and we'll get into that a bit further on. But first, let's jump in and look at some of the machines! (Robert has sent his comments, and I'll merge his with mine in the captions following.)
|We'll do these in as close to alphabetical order as we can, at least as far as the first batch of machines (that we have pics of) is concerned.
BROTHER DELUXE 750TR. Very many people in the collecting field aren't really familiar with the fact that most Brother machines did have model numbers - at least at some point. Much of the time, the rebranding and relabeling of these machines makes it hard to figure out just what the original model number was, and that situation is made more confusing since the model numbers didn't just continue to get higher and higher over the years.
This Brother DeLuxe 750TR is the familiar, later Brother segment-shifted machine - and there are other models with similar model numbers but small differences too such as the 760 with a slightly wider carriage.
|BROTHER CHARGER 11.
This machine is of the old, original Brother style mechanically - it's carriage shifted - but it is late enough to have a correcting ribbon installed as original equipment. The ribbon selector legend at the right can be seen to have only one black square, with no red (as on the machine seen above.) The other two are white and silver.
The machine above was sold often in the US under the K-Mart brand; that at left was sold often in the US under the Sears brand.
|BROTHER DE LUXE
This is the original Brother machine style. Sometimes seen in similar trim as the Brother Valiant. Again, this is hard to find in the original Brother branding in the US but much less so elsewhere.
|BROTHER DELUXE 1350
Related to the first generation of Brother machines, with heavier body and repeat spacer (see Webster XL-747 and Remington 333 for machines of similar vintage.) A good number of different Brother machines of the early 70's variety have a wood-grained panel on the front.
|BROTHER DELUXE 1613
A very late machine, likely related closely to those being made today in China. Segment-shifted. I think the "1613" refers to 13" platen.
|An attractive pair of Brother portables; on the right, the Brother De Luxe seen earlier and on the left something else we'll see later.
I myself happen to really like this style of Brother machine, not only because of the pleasing looks but also because these are well-made typewriters that are very pleasant to operate. It was, after all, this very style that got Brother on the map so to speak and ensured a successful venture in typewriter manufacturing for that firm.
|Here are a couple of interesting typewriters. Both were built in West Bromwich, England in the same factory but at different times. On the right, an Empire Aristocrat made by British Typewriters, Ltd. which we know to be a license-built copy of the small Hermes machine.
On the left is an Empire Corona, really a Smith-Corona Skyriter made at that same plant after Smith-Corona bought British Typewriters Ltd, merged it and changed production over to its own flat machine.
VERY RARELY you WILL SEE a machine of the Hermes pattern with Corona or SCM labeling, made during a short period of "running down the stocks."
|This is a VERY interesting machine - so pay close attention to it!
This machine is marked clearly as an IMPERIAL 34. However, it's immediately obvious that this machine bears no resemblance whatsoever to any actual Imperial portable, and also bears no resemblance to anything labeled as an Imperial but of the Royal - Litton family after Litton bought out Royal and Imperial. Later than that, Litton also bought TA Triumph-Adler - - but this isn't a Triumph or an Adler.
It's an East German made ERIKA, which Robert mentions is of the late 100/105 series; the manual with it indicated involvement by Robotron, making this a very late (70's or 80's) machine.. Now, how this thing got an Imperial brand name, I don't know.
|Here we have another IMPERIAL portable, which is somewhat easier to identify and understand. It plainly carries the Litton Industries emblem on its front, right next to the IMPERIAL name so we know it's of that era. Mechanically, we can see that the machine is a Nakajima and remember that Litton relabeled Nakajima machines for Royal -- so it isn't hard to figure out that it did so for Imperial as well.|
|Another IMPERIAL portable (again with no model number or name) with another Litton Industries emblem..
..but look closely! This is a Silver-Seiko machine, of the very uncommon variety with a tall top cover. Internally it's just like the very common Royal and Imperial labeled Silver-Seiko machines that Litton acquired and sold everywhere in droves.
|On the right, a KOFA 100. Long-time readers of my site are familiar with the story of the (formerly mysterious) Model 100 typewriter and how we finally got one here which carried the name Jordi Traveller. For a long time, though, the same machine has been marketed out of Taiwan by a firm known as Chee-May (Goh's) Ltd. who has their own brand name, "Keeping Offices Fully Automated" which is printed on their machines / products as KOFA. While Chee-May (Goh's) offers a number of other models of different manufacture, it is the KOFA 100 that will be most often encountered.|
The Lemair name seems to have appeared in Australia around 1956, and has been used on many applicances, and as we see here on typewriters as well. This same name combination, "Lemair Helvetia" also has appeared on Japanese-made sewing machines over time. The machine we see here is that favorite, early Brother variant with the pleasingly rounded top cover.
Information at the US Patent Office gives little help except that the word "Helvetia" is a slightly altered form of what originally was a Roman term for the province that eventually became Switzerland.
|The machine at right is labeled PINNOCK, and is pretty clearly an earlier Nakajima-made machine. In fact, it is the same as the Grant's manual portable I show on my Japan-related portable typewriter page, although the Grant's (model 737) is all-over greenish. This Pinnock is more attractive, with black top and keytops offsetting against the white body.
Pinnock Manufacturing seems to have made sewing machines in Australia from 1891 to 1967 and then licensed its name for use. The late Pinnock sewing machines, although of numerous models, are identical to known Japanese-made sewing machines and are either thus imported whole, or brought in as parts and assembled in Australia.
|Perhaps our previous description of the Pinnock operation is fitting, since we next have this REMINGTON Portable.
Note that the front of this Remington says "Australian Built." That's right- but perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it was assembled in Australia from parts made in the USA, for that's exactly the case. No typewriter was ever made entirely from scratch in Australia; they were assembled from parts brought in. Robert tells me that New Zealand had, at one point, some extremely serious import tariffs and so some portables were brought in as "do it yourself kit" form, wherein the buyer had to attach certain pieces such as the carriage return lever.