Wednesday, July 21, 2010

ABC/ Cole Steel Series 4 Green Portable Typewriter (1960s)

Sales of typewriters are slow, and I am chalking it down to summer - everyone's away on holiday, plus it's really hot outside, so who would want to be cooped indoors hunched over a typewriter anyway? Just me, apparently. The plan is to cool off on selling for now and instead rediscover my (over-large) collection, which comprises of the machines I acquired to keep and use and plan to hold on to. (The ones I would like to sell are just as useful, of course, just duplicated in some way - brand, model, or even just font - by others I'm keeping.)

While my venture is on hiatus, there is no reason to let this domain go to waste, so we decided to create a photographic catalog of our modest collection, writing it in the style of our advertisements. Hopefully, this shall be of some use to fellow collectors - and one in particular who is following this blog! So, I shall start off my collection cataloging with this gorgeous ABC typewriter, manufactured by Koch Adlernahmaschinenwerke AG in Bielefeld, West Germany, sometime in the early sixties. 

ABC typewriters are highly-prized for their sleek curves and good looks, and this one is no different. It features a full metal body with a green hammertone finish, and plastic beige keys and platen knobs. According to Will Davis, three variants of this machine were manufactured, the 2- , 3- , and 4- , distinguishable by serial numbers and special features. This is a 4- variant, and so it has an in-built option for changing the ribbon color. I find the placement of the lever, which is close to the carriage on the right, very simple and elegant. 

In terms of typing action, the machine performs well. I am fortunate to have a particularly well-preserved specimen, in that the platen is still in good condition and the typeface comes through clearly. The font is a rather plain and ordinary pica, but it is crisp and readable. The Japy Script (already pictured), white Hermes Baby (already pictured), and Brosette (to come!) all have this same font. It is why I would rather not keep all of them.

I do have a couple of problems with this machine, however: the margins do not always hold (they slip by a space or two every other line), and the line spacing lever shifts the platen up unevenly (sometimes more, sometimes less), so that I have to adjust it myself to create a uniform text. The paper finger, also, does not stay up! (Although I nudged it there for this picture.) I am sure there is a simple solution to this (a missing spring?), so hopefully J will be able to suggest an easy fix. 

That said, this is a great piece of eye candy, and it is nice to type on to boot. It is fairly small, and in the case comes to just under 40cm tall. The case snaps on to the front, and I do appreciate how the bottom of it serves as an impromptu typing pad. Indeed, it is possible to remove the machine entirely from the bottom, but I like it better with, so I leave it on when in use.


  1. I recently bought a similar typewriter and was wondering if you know where i could find extra type ribbon?

    please email me at:

  2. This machine has found a new home at - I shall feature it in due course.


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