Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Juwel Rapid: A speedy gem

This rather ordinary-looking typewriter that I just adopted turns out to be a fairly rare machine.

This portable typewriter began as the Dankers in Hamburg in 1935. In 1936, according to Ernst Martin, production moved to Cologne and the machine was renamed Juwel (Jewel). But apparently it was also still made as the Dankers until 1940.

Juwel was never an important typewriter company; it sold only a few thousand machines a year. Production apparently ended in 1955. I recently saw this very beefy Juwel on German eBay; I bet it's from the final year.

Most of the Juwels you see on and other sites are earlier machines (with funny model names like Fix and Flott), but the one I got, serial number H50994, is a Rapid from 1952 (or possibly 1953). The model name has broken off, but is still visible in outline.

This is a peculiar keyboard. It's QWERTY, but you have to shift to get numerals and a period. (Shifting tilts the carriage instead of moving it all up.) The machine can type in French and Italian.

This model's ribbon cover tilts forward.

There are some other peculiarites. For instance, this knob on the right side seems designed to move the ribbon mechanism slightly to the side, but it's not clear to me what this would achieve, and in any case, the mechanism will not budge.

Here's something I've never seen before. Note that the ribbon passes through a fork which is then held by a clip that slips over the top. This makes it impossible for the ribbon to fall out, but the clip could easily be lost.

This is the carriage lock, reflected in the chromed left end of the carriage.

The line spacing has two options: 2 or 3. The 2 option advances the paper by two clicks and yields what we would call single-spaced text. The 3 option creates what we'd call one-and-a-half-spaced text.

There's nothing particularly odd about this right margin stop, but you can see that it's well constructed and solid.

In general, I like this typewriter and disagree with some reviewers who have described Juwels as "bad" and "nothing." It required some cleaning and adjustment, but it now types quickly, with a nice, snappy feeling. The carriage return is very pleasant, emitting a hushed and precise purr. The design of the escapement and other parts is very simple, but seems effective and well-made. In sum, I think this is an unfairly maligned typewriter. The Juwel Rapid is aptly named: it's a speedy gem.


  1. I've never heard of one of these before. Very nice looking typewriter.

  2. I always tend to look more favorably upon machines than critics do because hey, if it types it types. The Juwel looks like a decent machine, and I can see the Royal and Olympia aesthetics that went into it. And sometimes simpler is better.

    That accursed shift-period tho. Why?

    1. Yeah—strange idea. It's found on Italian keyboards, which lends credence to the theory that this is a modified or reformed Italian layout. You also find the shift-period on Olivers and some other early typewriters. I think the theory was that you were about to shift to make a capital letter to start the next sentence — so why not?

  3. That's pretty good for "ordinary"!

  4. Very pretty! You see quite a few German machines on eBay UK, but I've never seen one of these. I'll add it to my mental list...

  5. that k-nurled k-nob is a puzzle. would it be to reverse the ribbon direction? with the k-nurling I take it that it turns rather than pushes in and out? (I have a portable that does the direction change that way...)

    1. It looks like it should be a ribbon direction reverser, but it does not do that, as far as I can see. It is clearly meant to push in and out rather than turn.

  6. It's actually quite fetching. It's accents are understated, but attractive (: