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Brother from another mother

2014-03-15 11.03.26

The Portuguese Brother

Here’s a mystery: Why did Brother, which was manufacturing manual typewriters in the millions, contract with Messa to make another line of machines? My only guess is that Brother wanted to expand and diversify its product line, extending its reach and domination.

The Brother/Messa line was sold in the mid-1970s at various discount stores such as Gibson’s and Eaton’s. Messa, a Portuguese concern, manufactured machines for numerous companies, including Sears, ABC and Royal.1 That Brother should be included is mystifying because the Japanese manufacturer already had a successful line of machines. The company was not in decline, looking to profit from brand recognition alone.

It’s possible, I suppose, that Brother contracted with Messa to satisfy existing orders. Perhaps the Messa line was a stopgap measure.

Machines of Loving Grace states that the Brother/Messa line was indeed short-lived:

Some few machines were sold by Brother (of Japan) for unknown reasons, numbered in a model series beginning with “XL,” such as the Brother XL-1016 seen at lower right. Variants of this group also appeared as the Sears Chevron, and as the Sears Capri. The Brother machine actually says “Capri” on its paper table, even though it has a model number on the sticker. Some variants have buttons for functions in the top cover, as does the Brother.

Known Brother/Messas include the XL1010, XL1012, and XL1016 — the last two numbers refer to carriage width. Messas are made of hard plastic with metal covers over the type basket, and the hard-plastic case snaps on. The phrase “Made in Portugal” can be found in numerous places.

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The Ogden Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah, Sep 3, 1974

The Ogden Standard-Examiner (Ogden, Utah), Sept. 3, 1974.

The Ottawa Journal, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Jul 9, 1975

The Ottawa Journal (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), July 9, 1975.

Typing sample

Brother:Messa XL1010 Typeface

Photos

Brother XL1010 a

Brother XL1010 b

Brother XL1010 c

Brother XL1010 d

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

As seen at TypewriterDatabase.com.

I also own a Sears Malibu — see here.

© 2014, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

  1. See Robert Messenger’s posts here and here. []
{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Tony Mindling March 16, 2014, 4:33 am

    Interesting post, Mark. I wouldn’t call the XL1010 a lovely thing, but it does produce nice even type. And the keyset includes a numeral 1 and an exclamation point. It is a wonder manufacturers took so long to do this.

  • Steve K March 16, 2014, 1:33 pm

    It looks like those boxy ’70s Royal Silver-Seiko typewriters, except with better quality keytops and I bet they type better too.

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