When I found this wonderful German typewriter on a dusty and messy shelf of a Bargain Corner shop in Swakopmund, I was excited. I thought it could be a perfect happy birthday present for my husband.
This smart, deeply black metal office mechanical typewriter is an “Ideal C” model, manufactured by Seidel & Neumann in Dresen – Germany, 1917 circa. The typewriter has a universal keyboard with four rows. A lever on the left of the keyboard operated the carriage return and line spacing. The serial number 661786 is located under the carriage. My Ideal is still writing perfectly with its black ink tape.
Karl Robert Bruno Naumann (below) was born 10 October 1844 in Dresden. He was a skilled and highly trained engineer travelling around Germany as a young 16yr old repair journeyman. He has improved his engineering skills along the way, even with clockmakers. Bruno founded his own company around 1868 in Dresden, Germany on a shoestring. At first, Bruno was concentrated like many small engineering firms on mechanical repairs and small manufacturing but later, he saw the huge potential in sewing machines and bicycles. By the turn of the century, the company decided to invest in the production of motorcycles and typewriters.
After the phenomenal success of their “Ideal” model, which had four upgrades and their folding “Erika” typewriter, they also invented “Erika Picht” typewriter by Oscar Picht for blind people.
The Seidel & Naumann Ideal typewriter had four model changes. Their folding Erika typewriter, named after Bruno Naumann’s granddaughter, was still a best seller. The Erika No1 was the first folding typewriter in the world. Other typewriters followed like the Bijou in 1925, the Electric and the Gloria.
The Seidel & Naumann machines were used by the German Military in the 1930’s including the dreaded SS with a custom – made key which featured the “SS” symbol on the key number three. They say Hitler used a Seidel & Neumann typewriter. In addition to that, for many years Nazis hiding from justice used the number 18 in their clandestine communications. It was a code for Adolph Hitler. In the alphabet A=1 and H=8.
This is a picture of the factory before its destruction in the Dresden bombings and firestorm.
Above: this is the only copy of the giant Hamburg – Seidel & Neumann factory, that I have found. The chimneys burned black day and night producing thousands of machines 24 hours a day.
Above: the Erika portable typewriter. Here you can see just how portable the small machine was even aboard ship. Circa 1910 – 1930.
A vintage French advertising poster for Ideal typewriters.
Above: “Bargain Corner” shop in Swakopmund that is where I bought the “Ideal C” typewriter. This place had a very particular atmosphere. It was a sort of a local Flea Market selling cheap African junk and memorabilia.