|A Marion Portable, Tilman Ester Collection|
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Many Consul typewriters that were destined for export were given new names, such as "Admiral," "President," or the most famous, "Commodore." The Commodore was "built in Canada," meaning that the parts from the Czech typewriters were assembled in Canada. In Western Europe, it is possible to find a "Marion" portable, which is a two-tone version of the Consul.
For more information on export Consuls, go to http://machinesoflovinggrace.com/ptf/EuropeZetaConsul.html
In 1950, Zbrojovka Brno, a Czech company which was well known for the BREN gun, decided to begin manufacturing portable typewriters. The first model, the Consul 1500 was introduced in 1950. The Consul that this blog is primarily concerned with is the Consul 1519 of 1960. It is a simple typewriter, painted in a strange shade of tan, much like that of a file folder. Unlike most of the Consul portables (except for the compact models) that I've seen on the internet, it lacks a tabulator. It does have a two-color ribbon, and a very legible elite typeface. This typewriter is about six inches tall, and is about twelve inches square. It features a margin-setting system that is remarkably similar to Royal's Magic Margin feature, and has a removable carriage (the idea being that offices could change to a larger or smaller carriage, depending on the need, and then change back. This was relatively common in Eastern Bloc typewriters.) On early models of Consul portables, the logo on the front is chrome. On later machines, it is gray plastic. By the 1960s, the script logo had given way to block letters. Another interesting feature of many earlier Consul typewriters is the thickness of the metal body. The typewriter is surrounded by 1/8 inch thick steel. (Most typewriters have thinner body panels, and as a result are lighter.)
|A similar Consul typewriter, labelled as a Norwood. Robert Messenger Collection|
From the Oregonian, February 6, 1951. (The Olympia was never a Soviet-made typewriter) This article really makes me wonder who sold the Consul. Many stores in the Midwest and East Coast offered Consul portable typewriters, as well as some in California. Generally, they were sold in smaller towns, and were small typewriters--similar in size to the Royal Royalite.
A while ago, I purchased a very interesting typewriter at a Value Village store. It came in a white soft case (which finally wore out last week), and was made in Czechoslovakia. (Sorry about the quality of the photos--since it is a lightly-colored typewriter, I thought it would be a good idea to photograph it with a backdrop of dark posterboard) As you can see, the typewriter is called the "Consul." On the rear of the machine, there is a decal that has a Z in a circle, and says "Made in Czechoslovakia." I have no idea how a Czechoslovakian typewriter made it to the Pacific Northwest...or the United States at all. This blog will hopefully explore the journey of the Consul typewriter, and other Soviet typewriters.