21 August 2013

Erika 147: Hebrew Typewriter

Hebrew was not a spoken and written vernacular until the modern age, and nobody would use a typewriter to write sacred texts. A typewriter would have to be used for secular reasons (probably business) to be worth having for Hebrew. Mine is from the 70s I think and it was owned by an American attorney in Boston. I imagine he was Jewish and had many Jewish clients. It is in great condition and seems to have been maintained and used until the end.

With typewriters like this, I can guess that it is from an estate sale. It is sad to know that my acquisition was made possible by death. Typewriters appeal to me because of their utility, but also their history. If typewriters could speak on their own...but their testimony is only from those who use them to record their thoughts.

In a generation, all the young people now who have typewriters will be having estate sales and the next generation will get what we have preserved. Hopefully, these machines can leapfrog through time and see the Apocalypse.

This typewriter was made in East Germany. On the back, it says:

Robotron Export-Import Volksseigener Au├čenhandelsbetrieb der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik DDR-1140 Berlin. Allee der Kosmonauten 24

Fascinating to have a company on the "avenue of cosmonauts"!

Because it is Hebrew, it is right-to-left, which means the carriage is distinct from English and other European language typewriters. It types beautifully as well. The ribbon needs to be replaced though.

I can read a little Hebrew, but not very well. The Hebrew keyboard layout is interesting. It seems to be largely random, although I know it is based on loosely associated characteristics of the letters.


  1. Excellent find. And really, this is a very interesting piece of history.

    Thank you very much for sharing.

    1. It was a very fortuitous find.

      It is for sale if anybody wants it.

      This was too good to pass up when I bought it. I've had it for a while, but I just recently bought a new camera.

  2. That's very interesting! I think I would enjoy seeing that in person.

  3. How fascinating. I wish you hadn't taken the photos down. I am interested in what this typewriter looks like. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I can read/write Hebrew but I have horrible handwriting and would love to own a typewriter like that.

  5. I can read/write Hebrew but I have horrible handwriting and would love to own a typewriter like that.