It started with this wooden box I received in the mail (admittedly, I knew there was a typewriter inside, but still there is always a certain thrill about opening the case, especially around Christmas).
Dactyle, from France - very nice!!!
Manufactured in its first year of production, which was around 1895 (serial number 49!!).
I read "Gl * P * PETAIN"
|source: wikimedia commons, Bundesarchiv Bild 183-H25217|
Now, why would this charming machine have belonged to Maréchal Philippe Pétain?
In order to find out whether this typewriter could have belonged to "the" Pétain, we have to take the following elements into consideration and under scrutiny: the name inscription, and time and circumstances of use. From the previous owner I could by the way get no information other than he himself had found this typewriter on a Swiss market. So let's see:
The inscription is "Gl * P * PETAIN". "P" and "Pétain" would obviously fit, knowing that he was addressed as "Philippe", rather than with his real first name "Henri".
So, we have a name tag on the typewriter's case which would fit the General, also a fitting time-frame and circumstances likely to support the hypothesis that this machine was indeed General Pétain's. Now, your opinions please!
Read more on the Dactyle and its fascinating promotor Octave Rochefort on typewriters.ch.
P.S.: You might wonder about the hand with the star of David - this emblem is to be found on every Dactyle typewriter, it was put there by the manufacturer. Reason still unknown. The hand is a so-called "Hamsa", supposedly with apotropaic effect, and popular in both Islam and Judaism. Here it is combined with the Magen David, or Star of David.