22 de febrero de 2012

I have a dream

I have a dream... just as Richard... it is the dream of an attractive and mysterious typewriter, invented almost 100 years ago.... I can feel it... it is near... it is somewhere here, in Switzerland, waiting for us to be gloriously restored to the typewriter throne, where it will be King...
source: A. Baggenstos, Von der Bilderschrift zur Schreibmachine, Zurich and Herrliberg 1977
 Above, we see the mighty "Sphinx" from the August Baggenstos collection. Not much is known, but some things are: Ernst Martin, in his epic "Die Schreibmaschine", states that it was put on the market in 1913. However, production was stalled at the beginning of World War I. In 1918, Martin continues, the re was a raise in the producing company's capital, but then (mysteriously...) "nothing more was heard of it."

"S.A. Sphinx" is named as the producer, so we can assume that a "société anonyme", a stock company, was set up especially for the purpose of producing this machine. No traces are found of this company... (but then again, this just confirms that it is a big mistake to belief that "everything is on the net", no no, reality is bigger than the internet, many treasures still to be unearthed)...

And SAMUEL GERTSCH was the man who invented it...

source: Espacenet
Both the factory and Samuel Gertsch were based in the settlement of Fleurier in the Swiss Jurassian arc (no coincidence, they found dinosaur skeletons in the region, ready to visit, Jurassic parc). Could it be that it is the same Samuel Gertsch born in St. Sulpice, Vaud, on Aug. 6, 1881, died in Neuchâtel in 1956? The dates would fit, and so do the places - they are all within 100 miles in the same region.
source: gooooogle maps

Thank you, Samuel Gertsch, for inventing such a mighty typewriter!

from CH69351
Identity of this patent and the actual "Sphinx" typewriter clearly shows with the screw on the fork-like middle part, and other visible details. Compare this with the photo above. You agree?
side view and type bar mechanism

So now, we need two Sphinxes... in the meanwhile, we keep on dreaming....

P.S.: Some more of Samuel Gertsch's inventions are documented, e.g. a spindle (1918) and a lifting jack (1932)

8 comentarios:

  1. Very interesting post! That is a very interesting typewriter.
    I would like the space to have a nice old office typewriter.

  2. The styling would have looked incredibly futuristic in 1918. The shapes - and the 'wheels' - remind me of a Morris Minor.

  3. The typewriter treasure-hunt... how exciting!

  4. Georg, this is a revelation. For 16 years I have had the Sphinx on my "Ten Most Wanted" list -- a rather whimsical and arbitrary list -- and this is the first time I have learned anything about it other than what I found in Martin's book. I have never seen a photograph of it before. Now I know that I must get Baggestos's book!

    Yes, I'm sure that must be the patent. The typebars on this machine are very strange, lying almost flat and using a geared mechanism, much as on the Remington portable and other later typewriters. But why make them so flat when you are building a larger machine?

    The shape of the thing captivated me and still does.


  5. That is the coolest typewriter I've seen this year!

  6. I believe this is "ever-wanted-but-never-found" typewriter in the typosphere...

  7. Thank you all for commenting! @ Richard: I also find the typebar mechanism very special - it is clearly visible in the patent drawing, and I added it to the post. I think it is also similar to the Olivetti MP1's.

  8. How fascinating! I, too, have seen this typewriter on Richard's list and would be interested in finding one. It would be a great coup for the typosphere! So now that makes three of us (Florian is curious too, I'm sure) in Switzerland all keeping an eye out for this mythical Swiss machine... hopefully it will not take 16 more years to come across it!