Seidel & Naumann Erika 5

      6 Comments on Seidel & Naumann Erika 5

When you buy two typewriters at once (or, actually, get one for free when buying the other), it’s hard to decide which typewriter gets the TLC first. Since the Continental 340 will need the most, I decided to wait until I get more supplies (because I still need to buy a lot of tools and cleaning solvents).

Before I start dismantling my new typewriter, I want to know more about it. How does it need to work? What’s the history of this model? How do I do this? Or that? So I started searching the web again and made this list of other Erika 5’s: (I use Chromium because it translates pages easily)

* Retro Tech Geneva Black, QWERTZ layout, no tab.
* Wolfsonian Black, QWERTZ layout, tab-version.
* Maschinenschreiben Black, QWERZ layout, no tab.
* Black, QWERTZ layout, no tab.
* Sommeregger Black, QWERTZ layout, no tab.
* Piwko Black, QWERTZ layout, no tab.
* Sevenels Black, QWERTY layout, tab-version.
* Lorene Museu Black, QWERTZ layout, tab.
* Sandra Mann Black, QWERTZ layout, no tab.
* all other Erika 5’s on Ebay/Etsy/Flickr

As you can see Seidel & Naumann Erika 5 is a portable machine with 4 rows of keys. Only by looking at several Erika’s you know it’s a German typewriter. Lot’s of QWERTZ layouts to be found! Mine has a QWERTY layout though. And according to the tw-db it was manufactured in 1929. That’s just the second year of production!

So, some company history (translated from Lorena Museu Portugal):
Seidel and Naumann (Dresden, East Germany) started their business around 1870. They had a machine shop and a great technical knowledge. Naumann’s stepfather was a seller of saddles and his uncle made boxes for watches to the Royal Palace of Saxony. Aiming to produce a profitable product they decided to manufacture typewriters.

In 1872, they obtained a license to manufacture Singer sewing machines. This was mainly Naumann’s idea, but apparently Seidel did not agree with him because he considered the risk too great, so he stepped away from the business.

In 1887, the firm began to diversify by starting manufacture of bicycles, and in 1892 they manufactured instruments to measure the speed of locomotives. The same year he began his studies for series production of typewriters. His first typewriter, Ideal appeared in 1900. It achieved a great success and sold extremely well around the globe.

In 1913 a new Ideal typewriter was produced, but with World War 1 hostilities began, the firm soon began to make fuses for detonators, rifle barrels and other artifacts.

After the war, S&N continued with its production of typewriters, sewing machines, and bicycles. They started with the first Erika, a three row portable, which was also sold in various countries. It is said that the typewriter got this name due to Naumann’s daughter, Erika. The four row portable (of very high quality) was produced later.

When World War 2 started the firm, which had manufactured one million typewriters, had to use his factory almost exclusively to produce weapons of various types, presumably similar to those manufactured during World War 1. Two large air attacks were made in the factory, the second occurred near the end of the war in April 1945, destroying about 75% of the area of ​​production.

The production of typewriters was resumed immediately after the war, concentrating its manufacturing in portables. In 1951 Seidel & Naumann partly joined with Clemens Mueller AG.

Hm, okay, so, ehm… this typewriter was made in a factory in Dresden which during both World War’s made weapons. Auch… It’s a risk I’m willing to take. I’ll bet most German factories transformed to war-machines during the war. And we don’t know why S&N did, they could easily be forced to do so.

So, back to the typewriter! According to Ebay/Etsy/Flickr there are a lot of Erika 5’s to be found. three-row or four-row, with tab or without tab. Mine is a four-row without tab. And, funny fact, it has no 1 and no 0! Numbers start at 2 and end at 9. Back in the days typewriters were made without ones and zeros because you could also use a lowercase l and an uppercase O. These spared keys could be used to type quarters of currencies.

My Erika 5 seems to be in a better condition I thought at first. I haven’t found any mechanical flaws yet and it’s kind of clean. The only two things really damaged is the letter painting and the bolt of the platen knob. First one is almost scratched off and second one is really really rusty. I tried to find some of the original bolt by scratching the rust, but needed to stop. It’s just really damaged. But, everything else seems to work. Bell rings, both ribbon reverse buttons reverse, there is nothing funny going on with ribbon vibrator, typebars and keys, even the line spacing works perfectly, so I guess I made a great deal on this machine!

But, sadly for you, no pictures today. My Erika 5 is half-naked and still needs some cleaning and polishing. Besides, this blog post is way too long already!

6 thoughts on “Seidel & Naumann Erika 5

  1. Hayley

    I have an ‘Erika’ typewriter and I have been searching the internet for years, trying to find some information on this typewriter.
    I have found so much conflicting information, as the serial number seems to refer to the Model 5, but the serial number doesn’t have a 5 after, and there is no #5 on the machine.
    But I found your blog, and read the description of your machine – and it is sounds EXACTLY the same – 4 rows, no tab, no number 1 or 0, and it’s a QWERTY keyboard!
    This is the only site I have found a description even similar to the machine I have, and I would love to speak to you more or even exchange photos if you still have the typewriter?
    I really hope to hear back from you – I’d really like to know more and you are my best bet so far!
    Many thanks in advance
    Hayley Coggins (Bristol, UK)

  2. jfberth

    Dear contributors (and apparently fans of collection typewriters), I realized today how old was an Erika model I got in a bazar some time ago. It presents a very nice condition, yet seems to have some mechanical issues.
    I guess I would need to visit a specialist or get a technical booklet/manual to get through the repairs…
    If youdo have one to share or are an expert, I can ask you more specifically the issues !
    Thanks in advance.
    JF Berth

  3. Rosie

    So glad I came across your blog. We found an old typewriter in our basement as we were packing, it’s from my in-laws. Is there any way I can send you a picture? The markings are as follows: Naumann Erika 5 Tab, A.-G. vorm Seidel & Naumann-Dresden. I can see an engraved numerical marking inside to the right side of the space bar. There are German words on the caps & caps lock (Umschalt & Fest-Steller respectively), the backspace (Rück transport), there is no zero and the “z” key and “y” keys are in each other’s spot if comparing to a US typewriter. It also is in a black leather carrying case but Handel is separated due to age. Any info would be much appreciated. I can send pics but need to know where to send.

  4. Scott O.

    I came across your blog while searching for info about Seidel & Naumann and the company’s support of the German war effort in WWII. What is the source of the translated material you quoted? I’d like to see if it offers additional info on the company during the 1930s-1940s. I like my Erika’s and agree that quality was always a priority.


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