I suffered an attack of buyers remorse after I bid on and won this Privileg 270 portable typewriter ($30). What had I bought?

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Information about this model was hard to find, but a few similar typewriters were advertised online: a Privileg 270S  –  like mine but with a Script font –

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– and this Privileg 270T – also like mine but with a Tab key and typing adjustment …

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If a website called fab.com is to be believed (bear in mind they  were attempting to justify a $388 dollar price tag for a typewriter which is now listed as “Out of Stock”) the Privileg 270T “was made in Czechoslovakia by quality Soviet typewriter manufacturer Consul, and was branded for the German Market through the Meine Quelle mail order catalog circulated in the 1960’s. It’s plastic, sports car-like body, delicious coloring, and reliable Eastern bloc mechanics make this a quirky, unusual, and decidedly well-engineered typewriter.”

“Reliable Eastern bloc mechanics”? For me, that conjurs up an image of an East German Trabant …!

Owners of East German-era Trabants take 

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fab.com also claim that the “1965” Privileg 250T is “partly constructed out of Bakelite, plastic, rubber, and GLASS”!

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Here’s another Quelle typewriter/sports car analogy, courtesy of the  Old Fort Typewriter Company …

Our nifty vintage portable Quelle Privileg 350 T is the Lamborghini of our typewriters. Its eye popping, attention grabbing, sexy mechanical parts are packaged inside a signature, sports car yellow !”

Elsewhere online, the 350T is variously described as:

  • “Made in Germany, circa 1950’s”
  • “Atomic vintage circa 1960/70’s”
  • “Manual typewriter from the 80’s made in Germany “

Fortunately, we can rely on Robert Messenger at OzTypewriter to  make sense of it all. In one post Robert provides us with information about the Quelle Mail Order Company (See the entry  for ‘March’) and in another tells us that the Privileg 350T is the same typewriter as the Olivetti Lettera 92 a.k.a. the Underwood 378/319.

This is backed up by  The Typewriter Workshop: “The Privileg 350T is a clone design of the mid to late 1980s Olivetti Lettera 92 (also know as Underwood 319). Produced by Olivetti (for Quelle) in Spain, after the merger with Underwood, the bold, stylish and modern design was one of the most re-labelled portable typewriter of modern times. “

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Ribbon cover aside, the 350T is quite similar to the 270 …

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So do the claims of fab.com (above) stack up? Well no, not really. “Reliable Eastern bloc mechanics”?

Instead think rebadged NAKAJIMA!!!! Another example is  this made-for-the-Australian market Pinnock…

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And oh how the Mighty Adler are fallen …

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Compare the ribbon cover, the carriage return lever, and the carriage itself with that on a Chevron (also a rebadged Nakajima) …

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And there can be no doubt.

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A Portable Typewriter Reference by Will Davis confirms it:  “”PRIVELEG:  German Quelle house sold many thousands of machines made all over the world and to which this brand was applied.  Some known models —  100 by Citizen, 150 is Rover family member, 160 is Maritsa 30, 165TR is Olympia Traveller C, 180TE and 180TR made in Korea by K-Mek, 220, 220T and 230 by Antares, 260S made in Bulgaria and like Omega 1300F, 270 and 270T by Nakajima, 300 can be either Olivetti or Brother machines, 320TR by Brother and like Brother 750TR, 350T by Olivetti.  Models over 400 are electrics. ”  Thank you Will!
A few more pictures of the Privileg (Nakajima) stripped bare of its plastic …  🙂
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