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1938 Erika M Typewriter

Uncategorised Posted on Thu, August 22, 2019 10:32AM

I picked up this 1938 Erika M typewriter this week. I had brought it to a repairman to have the rubber on the platen and feed rollers replaced.

The Erika M typewriter is regarded by many typewriter collectors as the finest prewar portable typewriter ever made. No expense was spared in engineering this thing. The result was a machine that is easy to type on, extremely fast, with a very precise feeling. It has deluxe features like heavy nickel plated levers, “skeleton shift” (only the platen and paper tray move when shift is pressed, not the whole carriage) and a lever that adds spaces between the letters, for emphasis. I prefer typing on large, “standard” manual typewriters of the sort normally used at that time in offices. To me, the solid, sturdy feel of typing on a big typewriter cannot be beat. The Erika M feels like an attempt to replicate that experience in a portable format. They got pretty close. Any 1930s Erika typewriter is generally regarded as a quality object. But the M was the top of the line. “M” stood for “Meisterklasse.” It is a masterpiece.

Because these typewriters are avidly sought after by typewriter collectors, it is hard to get one of these for less than $200. I paid a bit over $200 for this one, plus another $100 for shipping from Hungary. When I got it, the platen was hard as stone, and the feed rollers had developed big flat spots, making the machine unpleasant to use. I spent another $150 for new rubber. The machine types as if it were brand new, now. I will get a lot of use out of this. I do have some other 1930s German portables that are as pleasant and fun to type on as this Erika M. Torpedo and Triumph portables from that era are fast, precise typers.



Office supply illustrations from a Wehrmacht book on sign painting

Office Supplies Posted on Tue, August 13, 2019 09:44AM

My friend Richard Tietze has this original Wehrmacht instructional book on sign painting. There are some illustrations of writing stuff inside. The dip pen nibs shown are from Brause, Soennecken and Heintze & Blanckertz. The waterproof ink and paint is from Pelikan. 

Vintage Heintze & Blanckertz nibs can still be found. The Berlin factory was destroyed in WWII and after the war a new factory was built in Frankfurt am Main. The “Berlin” marked nibs are all from before 1945.



Where to get wood stamp handles?

Instructionals Posted on Tue, August 06, 2019 11:24AM

For stamps that I use at reenactments, I prefer to find old German wooden stamp handles, strip off the old rubber and re-use the handle. I search for “Holzstempel alt” or “Holzstempel Konvolut” on eBay. de.

Wood stamp handles in the old style are still made and available in Europe. Jackson Marking Products is a US source for handles in the proper style.

For stamps that I only use at home, I cut simple wooden blocks. I used to use a cheap back saw and plastic miter box from the hardware store. Now I use a band saw. I just cut up scrap wood.



Reproduction Label for Typewriter Oil Bottle

Office Supplies, Reproduction Paperwork Posted on Wed, July 24, 2019 09:40PM

I recently picked up this vintage German bottle of oil for bicycles, sewing machines and typewriters. It has a Bakelite cap and remnants of the old oil inside.

I made a reproduction of this label. Print it on newsprint or some other thin, off-white paper with a bit of texture.



Wehrmacht Schreibstube living history

Living History Posted on Wed, March 13, 2019 10:21PM

Photos from WWII reenactment events in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Ohio, USA, December 2018-March 2019.



Modern equivalents to WWII paper

Living History Posted on Sun, November 04, 2018 10:47PM


You can’t have a Schreibstube, without paper.

I collect many different types of wartime paper items including Feldpost letters, identity documents, passes, ration and personal kit item packaging and other ephemera from the war years. Paper used during the war came in a wide variety of textures, colors, and thicknesses but there are characteristics that I associate with wartime paper in general. Materials shortages necessitated the use of even things like potato stalks in German paper, it was different from most paper commonly used today. Most commercially available modern paper is made differently from what was used in the first half of the twentieth century, in general. Modern paper is brighter and smoother whereas wartime paper was often rougher, with a slightly mottled appearance. Of course there were exceptions to this, smooth paper did exist back then.

Having a Schreibstube necessitates

having a variety of different kinds of paper for different documents and purposes. I have found it very difficult to source exact modern equivalents for wartime paper, but I have been able to amass a lot of usable paper that looks close enough to fall generally within the very wide range of what was used. To reiterate, you are looking for paper that is not bright white, and that has some texture. One thing I do from time to time is go to an art supply store and look at sketch pads. There are a lot of different types of these pads available and many have usable paper. I will also look at stationery and try to find nice paper with subtle watermarks, or without watermarks, or various kinds of natural colored or off-white stock for specific projects.

One thing you can keep an eye out for is paper with a high recycled content that has not been bleached to bright white. Paper and envelopes in “Recyclinggrau” color, that may be available in Germany, look great.

If you look at pads of “kraft” paper, or colored “construction paper,” you may find usable stuff for making envelopes, small passes or ID documents, or other specific purposes. Here in the US, dollar stores often have sketch pads with thin newsprint type paper that is great.

Newsprint in general is very good to have and is widely available in pads. The issue with this is that it doesn’t stand up to fountain pen ink, which will bleed and feather. So newsprint alone is not suitable for all purposes.There is paper that is marketed today specifically for fountain pen use.

A lot of these pads of paper are 9” x 12” which is ideal as you can cut that down to the DIN A4 size that is and was standard in Germany.

Lastly, keep an eye out for actual vintage paper. In antique shops and thrift stores you can sometimes find old typewriter paper or old notebooks. Even small notebooks can yield great paper for typewritten Soldbuch inserts or other small documents. And old books may have blank end pages that can be utilized.



Shipping cost increase

intrenches.com updates Posted on Tue, February 27, 2018 07:52PM

I started this site in 2010 and despite very many postage price increases by the US Postal Service, I kept the shipping prices the same over the years. Recently there was another big increase and I cannot continue to lose so much on shipping costs, I have been forced to raise my shipping rates for the first time ever. Shipping one stamp sheet or up to 2 rubber stamps with handles now costs $4 in the USA or $15 to Europe (an increase of $1). Shipping for multiple sheets or larger stamp orders will be more. I don’t think any other vendor will ship any parcel for less. “Free shipping” is just built into the price, of course. I remain committed to offering my products to other hobbyists as inexpensively as possible.



New article – WWII German Handwriting

intrenches.com updates Posted on Sat, December 16, 2017 12:14AM

Many people have asked me about wartime German handwriting- what styles were used, how to tell the scripts apart, how to learn to write in German script. I posted an article tonight about this. I included some historical background information about handwriting in Germany and show a bunch of examples of the different scripts.



Soldbuch Portrait Photos

intrenches.com updates Posted on Thu, December 08, 2016 11:20PM

Many people have asked me what Soldbuch photos should look like. Before 1943, there were no Soldbuch photos for the Heer, SS or Luftwaffe. Most Soldbücher issued 1939-44 had photos added in 1944. They simply used whatever photos were available. Many soldiers never got photos. I posted a new article with some examples of original Soldbuch photos.



Creating a Roster for a WWII German Reenactment Unit

intrenches.com updates Posted on Thu, December 01, 2016 12:46AM

Many people have asked me how to create a correct period type roster for their reenactment group. I have posted this information online in countless groups but until now I have not sat down to put all of the necessary information in one place. I’ve just got a new article up that contains all the details necessary to complete this project: where to get the binder, a printable PDF for period type binder labels, another PDF for the page that had to be filled out for each soldier, plus scans for reference, the translation of the form, and information about how to fill the form out. Every reenactment unit should have a clerk and every reenactment clerk should consider maintaining this type of record, it is a great thing to have.



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