1919 - 1921
Georg Emig & Co.
The Gerda was invented and produced by Johann Georg Emig of Berlin, Germany. Its primary objective was to enable blind and one-armed victims of World War I to become typists proficient enough for employment. There were two versions of the Gerda produced: one with the braille alphabet for the blind and one without for the sighted. According to a 3-line 1919 blurb in a German periodical, Der Blindenfreud, Gerda typewriters were placed into service sometime during the same year.
As early as 1907, Johann Emig was manager at the Berlin offices of Groyen & Richtmann, a typewriter dealer of several brands including Blickensderfer. This is relevant because a retrospective article titled "Two Hundred Blind Stenographers from “Geheimrat Silex,” the School for the War-Blind," written in 1932 by its director, Betty Hirsch, states that Blickensderfer typewriters were "the most frequently used by the blind" because "they had a keyboard well adapted for the German language." Emig probably had firsthand knowledge of this information. Thus, it should be of no surprise that the Gerda utilized a Blick-like typewheel for printing and that the legends of some of them had a version of the Blick's "Scientific" (DHIATENSOR) layout.
One of the few and final mentions of the Gerda was in July, 1921 in the Deutche Exporte-Revue where it was shown just below the Titania, another typewriter for the blind. Production likely ceased within a year to two.
The Melbri typewriter is a known name variant of the Gerda.
Comments? Have a Gerda Typewriter for sale? Please email me at Antikey.Chop@gmail.com or call +1 860 729 2252
Johann Georg Emig
The 1919 blurb in Der Blindenfreud named M. Butze of Riesa as distributor of the Gerda. The price was 195 Marks for blind and sighted people with two hands and 205 Marks for a one-handed users. It's unclear how the one-handed version differed from the two-handed one since all known examples function similarly with regards to appendages. Today we recognize the model with the braille dots as the No.1 (like the one in the illustration on this page) and the model without braille (like the example at the top of this page) as the No.2. Also, the No.1 had rectangular wooden keytops while the No.2s had round glasstop ones.