|the FK Mala|
|Polish enthusiast and writer Artur Nierychlewski sends us this shot of an FK Mala he's acquired, along with some information in his own words.|
|"The story is simple-- Under the brand name of 'FK' (an abbreviation of 'Fabryka Karabinow, which means 'Factory for Guns') the French Contin/Continentals were sold in the 1920's. In 1932, the firm started its own production based on the Continental license. In 1937 they introduced their own machine, which was also a large office machine. In 1938, they bought a license from Paillard for a portable machine. It was produced until the start of the Second World War, that is until September 1939. As far as I know, less than 1000 were made. This machine was sold under the brand name of FK Mala; 'mala' means 'small.'|
|Of course, there's no reason to doubt Artur's assertion that this machine's total production was very small. It's not referred to anywhere except in one book, and there just as a brief reference with no details at all. I can say that I've never seen one until now.
Re-discovery of this line means that there were, in all, four production lines for the small Paillard / HERMES machines; the original in Switzerland, starting in 1935, followed by British Typewriters Ltd. in 1936, FK in Poland briefly in 1939, and finally Montana SpA in Italy, beginning in 1950. Certainly, the FK Mala is the rarest of any variant, and among the rarest portable typewriters of all. Thanks, Artur!
|Tilman Elster collection: FK Mala s/n 3771.
The question is -- does the serial number of this machine indicate that more than 1,000 were built? Or, is it simply mixed in with other serial numbers for standard machines? This may never be known.
|Here is one hint that the serial of the FK Mala above might be 'mixed in.' This is Tilman Elster's FK Standard, with serial number 2849. These are not as rare as the FK Mala, but they are still extremely hard to find.|