12 oktober 2013

Lambert typewriter (model 1)

Last week, I won this Lambert typewriter at an online auction. The grandfather of the seller bought it at least 50 years ago at a flea market in Amsterdam and it had been in the family ever since. The machine is still in good condition, complete and (if I would re-ink the pad) still working. See the video I made, below.

Inventor Frank Lambert (born in France, emigrated to the USA) filed his first typewriter patent in 1884, but it was only in 1900 when the Lambert typewriter was produced for the first time. In the mean time, he made a fortune with the invention of a water meter. The sale of his typewriter proved to be more challenging, although over the next 3 decades more than 17.000 Lamberts were sold.

The main reason why people would prefer a Lambert over, for example, an Underwood 5 (the most common standard typewriter at the time), was because the Lambert was four times as cheap. You could own a Lambert for as little as 25 dollar. It was not as good or fast as an Underwood, but for sporadically use at home it was good enough.

Most of the Lambert typewriters (from serial number 2.500 onwards) were sold by Sidney Hébert from France. First he only dealt the typewriters, later (from SN 5.500 onwards) he bought the machinery and constructed Lambert typewriters himself. These later machines bear the label "constructeur".

My Lambert typewriter bears the name of Sidney Hébert, but without the label “constructeur”. Strange enough, its serial number is very high: 26.618. The Typewriter Sketchbook mentions that normal serial numbering stopped around 17.000. Only a few machines within the 26.000 range have survived and it is suggested that these machines were numbered differently for export.

My machine has some export characters on the keyboard (the so-called “multiple key”), so that would subscribe this theory, as well as the fact that it eventually turned up at a flea market in the Netherlands. More important, its multiple key can rotate in order to write italics. According to the same Typewriter Sketchbook, only the first 3.300 Lamberts carried this feature, which is why collectors call these machines “model 1”. 

Unless somebody comes up with a better conclusion, all this makes me believe that my Lambert typewriter model 1 should have had a serial number between 2.500 and 3.300, but was numbered differently because it was meant for export.

5 opmerkingen:

shordzi zei

Congratulations!! This wonderful machine has been on my wish list since i started collecting. Magnifique!

Rob Bowker zei

Thanks for acquiring and demonstrating the mythical Lambert. The video is amazing - it would be wonderful to see it in full writing mode with ink.

Ton S. zei

Thanks for sharing the awesome video, the Lambert looks out of this world, like an artifact from some retro scifi. And it looks like it's in fine condition. Wow.

Richard P zei


I'm with you, I suspect this is an early machine that for some reason was given a 5-digit serial.

Linda zei

Fascinating post. Thank you so much for sharing. Greetings and Merry Christmas from Montreal, Canada.