After reading Robert Messenger's post on his Brillant S, I put the model on my mental Want list. Lo and behold, almost immediately, one turned up on eBay. It wasn't cheap, but it was a Buy It Now ... and I did.
Of course I provided the usual packing instructions. Well, a couple of weeks later, look what shows up:
There was no protection at all around the typewriter case, so of course the typewriter did not survive. Both front corners and the right platen knob were broken. Some eBay sellers don't have common sense (as Ted can testify). Fortunately I have received a full refund.
But here's a happier tale.
Another machine I spotted on German eBay recently was a black Torpedo 20, a model I'd admired for a while. I decided to go for it, and won it for just €8.
This machine, in contrast to the Brillant, arrived very well packed, in a big box. But it might have survived even without any box, because the case for this machine—a work of art in itself—is bulletproof cast aluminum, and it holds the typewriter very securely.
Here is the machine itself. It has subtle, flowing lines that need to be appreciated from various angles.
The little red switches above the keyboard are for reversing the ribbon. Only one such switch would be needed, so this is a peculiar feature that shows someone's obsession with symmetry.
Like many other Torpedo models, this one has a segment shift.
It types well and is well made, although the carriage return is not silent as on the later Torpedo 18 (the model that's probably found most often in the US).
The serial number, 613108, dates the machine at 1952.
The paper table folds all the way over, revealing the margin stops attached to its lower edge. This arrangement makes it possible to bypass the margins in a system that is unique to this typewriter, in my experience: you pull the paper table slightly toward you.
Not only is this a beautiful typewriter, but it comes with a beautiful story. The seller recounted that her father was working as an engineer for a mining company, and decided to research the miner's disease silicosis. He bought this typewriter in order to type a thesis on the topic. Her mother, who was working at the same lab, "finally consented to help him with his thesis and did some of the typing for him, and they fell in love." They married in 1953. "Who knows whether they would have married without the assistance of this little Torpedo typewriter? My parents lived together in love for 45 years."
I'm impressed with the elegant design of early '50s German typewriters. Check out the nice lines on this East German Rheinmetall from 1952:
1952 was also the year when the famous Voss with a beefy aluminum body was introduced:
How could anyone resist falling in love in the presence of typewriters like this?