|Members of the "PATRIA" family, or the "Euro-Portable" family|
|There are two brand variants of this family, made in Switzerland; the PATRIA, and later the SWISSA. There was also, in the early 1950's, a version of the same machines made in Spain labeled PATRIA as well. Here we see the later Swiss PATRIA version, made by Aug. Birchmeier & Son. With serial number 55893 dates to 1946 -- an early example of this body style. The even later Swissa resembles, but does not duplicate perfectly, the Florida seen earlier.|
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|This design was made in Switzerland, Great Britain, Germany, Spain (twice separately) and France, making it among the top designs for number of nations of original manufacture. It may well have been an attempt to produce a "Euro" machine to stave off invasion by American machines and/or control of European industries (as far as typewriters were concerned in this case) after the Second World War, at the time a popular fear in Europe. Whatever the case, it's an interesting line, and with the variety and numbers produced, every collector can own and enjoy at least one member of this family without waiting for an eternity to do so.
For those interested in mechanical minutiae, I recommend reading my article about the Voss machines -- specifically the section on the Voss Privat. For that article, I deployed every single machine of this family and compared and contrasted them. The full substance of the results are in that article.
|This design was produced in Spain in what appears to be two time periods. The first, Guillermo Truninger SA Madrid, lasting 1949-1953, produced units with the name PATRIA; further details not known, although this is likely the result of the sellout of the original Swiss company and movement of the tooling to Spain.. The second, starting in the late 50's and running through the end of the 1960's, produced the two machines seen here. This second company was named Industrial Mecanografica SA.|
|The machine above was actually relabeled for Commodore Business Machines in Canada. It is a model C85; the machine at right, bearing its original brand name of FLORIDA, is a Model A85. It is dated by original paperwork to 1968. You can also find these labeled AMAYA -- probably the original, root brand name.|
|At left, my 1953 JAPY PERSONELLE in military style case, with dark green crinkle paint. It is similar to, but not completely identical with, the green Japy owned by Tilman Elster seen next.|
|The JAPY machines were periodically bought by the US-based Associated Merchandising Corporation, labeled as AMC brand, and distributed through department stores. Right and left, my mid-60's AMC and a closeup of its emblem.|
|It should be noted that all members of this family, excepting the OLIVER, BYRON and VOSS, were eventually restyled into squared off plastic bodies; however, all still retained the margin release key in the position to the left of the keyboard and with its top pointing at the typist, rather than parallel to the table top.|
|At left, illustration from the instructions for the FLORIDA Model A85. If this machine hadn't included its instructions, we might not have found out who made it. There's no online or other reference to the company anywhere!|
|The design was also manufactured in West Germany by Voss. Their assigned model name was VOSS PRIVAT, and this is one member of the family with a great story behind it. You can read extensively about this by finding my VOSS article on this site. Click here to see it.|
|From the instructions for the FLORIDA A85:
"Dear Customer: You have given us great pleasure with your selection of our portable typewriter. We know because of this that the effort expended to develop and manufacture a fine typewriter has not been in vain, and for this we are sincerely grateful.
You have acquired an inestimable and versatile aid, that can be used with maximum efficiency on any type of work; furthermore, you need only devote a small amount of your concern to these brief instructions:
(Insert a few basic use and cleaning instructions here.)
We reiterate our appreciation for your selection, and wish you many years of service with your new machine."
|None of the machines pictured on this page is what could be called "common" today, and only the Oliver and Japy machines had any significant market share -- and then only in their respective countries of origin. These machines are best described as solidly average. No one feature of their design stands out, but then again no one feature can be called retrograde. It is true that some variants are less well-made than others, but on the whole, the machines were perfectly competent for all work at home, any kind of travel work and any college work. They were simply good, working machines which were made and sold in various places at various times, in tune with the perceived customer base and where it was necessary to bolster local economies. Indeed, you could say that the design itself was more successful than any one of its makers.|
|At right, Richard Polt's Swiss-made, pre-war PATRIA. The resemblance to the immediately post-war OLIVER is immediately seen, in the overall flat profile of the machine. It has been found, through Tilman Elster, that the variant manufactured first in Switzerland was licensed also to Japy, in France, for production. This was the beginning of the spread of this design around Europe.|
|by Will Davis|
|The design of the PATRIA, manufactured initially in Switzerland, was licensed for production in a number of countries all over Europe, with the result being many years of development and modification, sometimes with companies acting in parallel and sometimes not. Below, we will show the known variants produced in each country and attempt to give some details of their construction and history.|
|In about 1936, Japy Freres, of Paris, France, produced what would be the first 'copy' of the Patria. Japy had produced portables as early as 1931, but these were not mechanically related. Here is Tilman Elster's shot of an early variant of the Japy "Patria" copy. Serial number F43535LW.|
|Tilman Elster also sends this shot of an attractively green, post-World War Two style Japy portable. S/N 256928, dated to 1957/1958.|
|At right, Tilman Elster's Japy Script. This is the "1960's" version with flat enamel paint, instead of crinkle-finished. These are most often seen in this two-tone blue and white paint scheme.|
|At left, we see a BYRON Portable, from the Thomas Fuertig collection. This is a very unusual branding, and some explanation is required.
Following the buyout of Barlock (1925) Ltd. of Nottingham, England, by new investors, the company changed its name to Byron Business Machines. The company had not previously been offering any portable typewriters at all, and so it struck a deal with Japy to bring in the present Japy portable as seen above, with the name Byron applied to it. Not very many were sold; the Byron Portable was only on the market for the period 1954-1956. Note that the keytops on this machine match only those on my 1953 Japy seen above, in shape.
Not only was the Byron Portable thus competitive with the Oliver Courier, it was almost perfectly identical to it!