Review: Typewriters Works Maritsa 22

Typewriters Works Maritsa 22 Review

1981 Maritsa 22 - Wachtendorf Collection1981 Maritsa 22 - Wachtendorf Collection

The Maritsa 22 along with its predecessor the Maritsa 11 are not well known typewriters, not even among collectors, and their manufacturer, Typewriters Works (sic) of Bulgaria even less so. This means there’s a dearth of second-hand opinions about the brand floating around the ether-web, and a Maritsa buyer’s mindset is unlikely to be tainted and first impressions of the machine likely to be honest ones; other than its appearance, and perhaps a cultural bias about products manufactured in Bulgaria, there is very little about the typewriter to base assumptions on.

My first impression of the Maritsa 22 was solely based on a visual examination of the typewriter and it was not a favourable one. The design of its case is typical of ’70s portables, its clean, non-committal lines approach being angular without appearing boxy. Similarly, its colour is non-offensive, the taupe and cream theme plays it safe and allows the typewriter to blend in with any surrounding. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with nondescript designs and uninspiring colour palates, not everyone wants a writing tool that makes an overt fashion statement, but where the Maritsa began to raise doubt was with the quality of its case: the large gaps around the keyboard shroud and poorly lined-up case halves did not impress. Equally suspect were the control levers that bordered on being anaemic, a classic sign of a typewriter built to a minimum cost.

1981 Maritsa 22 - Wachtendorf Collection

By all outward appearances the Maritsa 22 appears to be a budget model, its one redeeming feature an all-metal construction during a time when plastic was the reality for most smaller portables (inexplicably, Typewriters Works considered this Maritsa to be a medium-sized portable despite its physical dimensions that are similar to those of the smaller Brother models).

Based on all of this my first impression and consequent expectations of the machine were quite low; the Bulgarian typewriter was an average machine – at best. However, when examined more carefully a discord between the case design and the mechanical internals it shrouds becomes apparent, much like early Commodore models that stuffed the quality workings of a Consul-made typewriter into home-brewed cases that looked like the product of amateur designers.

One of the most satisfying experiences when buying an unfamiliar typewriter is finding out – for the good – that your first impression of the machine was completely wrong. It only took a few minutes of typing with the Maritsa 22 to determine that the machine’s appearance was not a reflection of its performance. The ultra-portable typed far better than it looked; its type action provided a taught, solid feel that erred on the side of having a slightly heavier touch. This makes it a good fit for confident touch typists and heavy-fingered hunt-and-peckers, and although it does feature a four-position touch control that marginally lightens the feel, this as a machine that rewards deliberate and proficient use.

The performance of most-typewriters is typically in line with the overall quality of its build, but with the Maritsa 22 that clearly isn’t really the case. The reason for this disparity between the execution of its coachwork and the quality of its performance only begins to be understood once the case is removed and the guts of the machine examined.

1981 Maritsa 22 - Wachtendorf Collection  1981 Maritsa 22 - Wachtendorf Collection

1981 Maritsa 22 - Wachtendorf Collection  1981 Maritsa 22 - Wachtendorf Collection

Underneath the thin metal exterior is a familiar sight for collectors of German ultra-portable models, the right-side mounted draw band drum, cast aluminium frame, and components of the ribbon colour selector system are all tell-tale signs of a Keller & Knappich typewriter, more commonly known to the flocks of teenage girls who clamour after the cute little typewriter as a Princess.

A Princess in fine tune is a respectable typewriter, and when you factor in its classic ’50s design finished in two-tone paint (on the deluxe model), it’s no surprise that it often commands a high price. But how did the Princess turn into a Maritsa, and end up being manufactured in Bulgaria?

Popular speculation suggests that when Keller & Knappich ceased production of its Princess models, the company based in Augsburg, West Germany sold the rights (and perhaps the tooling too) to Typewriters Works in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, sometime between the mid ’60s and very early ’70s. Bulgaria was still in the clutches of a communist government at the time, and the state-run typewriter factory originally began producing Princess clones called the Maritsa 11, which it later on made look more modern for the renamed Maritsa 22.

1981 Maritsa 22 - Wachtendorf Collection

The original Princess and Typewriters Works’ reboot of the Princess design were not exactly mechanically identical, but they are close enough that a Princess owner using a Maritsa will find their performance comparable. And that’s good news. In terms of features (see table below), the Maritsa 22 is a well-appointed model putting it more or less on par with a Princess 300.

I don’t usually get side-tracked by typewriter travel cases, most are functional and do their job of keeping the machine safe when it’s not being used, but the travel case for the Maritsa 22 is worth mention because it is far more flamboyant than the typewriter it houses. Its faux crackle paint exterior is lined with a vibrant black and red checkerboard material that seems uncharacteristic for a stereotypically dour, Iron Curtain product.

Maritsa 12, but with same travel case interior.
Maritsa 22 travel case.

It would be very easy to pass on a Maritsa 22 if you saw one in an antique market or in a local ad, and it would be a mistake. Typewriters Works machines, at least the early ones (later models were actually Silver-Seiko models in disguise), are those that fly under the radar of most enthusiasts and as a result can be bought for a bargain price. If you have ever wanted to buy a Princess but balked at the prices they often command, keep your eye open for a Maritsa 22; it may not look as good, but its performance will keep you smiling, page after typed page.

Spec Chart 
Year/Make/Model1981 Typewriters Works Maritsa 22
Serial Number22069755 (first two digits = model number)
Country of ManufactureBulgaria  
Dimensions (H x W x D)9.0 x 32.5 x 31.5 cm – 3.5 x 12.8 x 12.4 in.
Weight (with case)5.3 (6.4) kg – 11.6 (14.0) lb
Maximum Paper Width24.5 cm – 9.7 in.
Useable Paper Width22.5 cm – 8.9 in.
Typeface1° AR (Rodrian) pica (10-pitch)
Carriage/Keyboard LockYes – carriage only, located at left end of carriage
Carriage Release(s)1 – right side only
Erasure TableYes
Line Spacing1 – 1.5 – 2
Paper BailYes – Ruled, no rollers
Paper GuideYes
Paper RestYes – fixed length, spring-loaded
Ribbon Colour SelectorYes – 3-positon (including stencil)
TabulatorYes – keyboard set, master clear on carriage
Touch ControlYes – four position lever (under ribbon cover)
Other FeaturesNo other special features

1981 Maritsa 22 - Wachtendorf Collection

1981 Maritsa 22 - Wachtendorf Collection

1981 Maritsa 22 - Wachtendorf Collection



Owner’s Manual (click to download), Final Quality Control Inspection sheet, and Warranty card (or in Bulglish, a warrant for your typewriter’s arrest).

Click to download owners' manualtypewriters-works-martista-22-final-inspection-sheet typewriters-works-martista-22-guarantee



First Impression: Olivetti Lexikon 80E

Olivetti Lexikon 80 Elettrica

Model: 1958 Olivetti Lexikon 80 Elettrica [1069991]
Production Run: 11 years (1950-1961)
The Competition: Olympia SGE; IBM Model C
Significance: Olivetti’s first electric typewriter


“Are you sure?” the text message asked. It was easy to identify the second-guessing that was going on between the lines of the message sent to me by a fellow typewriter collector.  A man of immeasurable luck when it comes to finding typewriters in such places, he had stumbled upon an Olivetti Lexikon 80E in a thrift store, and thought that I might want it; however, it was only now that he began to fully grasp the Olivetti’s imposing mass, and the distance he would have to carry it to his car was weighing heavily on his mind.

“It won’t power up,” read a subsequent text. It was obvious that he was attempting to talk me out of the deal, but it was too late: Whether or not the Olivetti worked was of little consequence to me, the significance of the model was simply too great – I had to have it.

Post-war Olivetti typewriters, much like fashion supermodels, only hold a superficial appeal for me, and as a result I don’t buy Olivetti typewriters for the way they type, but solely for how they look. The keyboards of the ultra-portable models are awkward to use for my large-size hands, and I’ve found that the full-size portables typically have wooden, erring on heavy type actions. Most disappointing for me are the standards: From a purely performance perspective, the Lexikon through to Linea 88 model range is a group of underachievers when compared to other machines from the same era.

Olivetti Lexikon 80E Top View

This disparity between visual and mechanical execution can be blamed on Olivetti’s fixation on transforming typewriters into objects of style. It’s no secret that Olivetti as a corporation was obsessed with the aesthetics of everything under its control. Regardless if it was the design of its office buildings or the look of its promotional materials, Olivetti, more than any other typewriter manufacturer, wanted to ensure that a visual statement was being made. Proof of this was Marcello Nizzoli, the company’s chief design consultant responsible for the Lexikon models. The graphic designer started with the company in an architectural and publicity role before designing actual typewriters, some sources even claiming that he was more concerned with the appearance of a typewriter than how it actually worked.

The result of this passion is undeniable, and Olivetti designs are so evocative that you can’t blame a typist for expecting a superlative experience when using one, or to feel let down when the experience turns out to be average at best. Against the seemingly endless backdrop of staid and stereotypical typewriter designs, Olivetti models more than any other stand out from the crowd. As a collector I’ve come to appreciate Olivetti models for their strengths, which are bold, sometimes daring designs that you want to own just for their looks and to hell with how they actually type.

This is where the Lexikon 80E steps into the conversation. Its wonderfully bulbous lines are reminiscent of a Rubenesque woman, and yet its design somehow manages to belie its true girth and one has to applaud the machinations responsible for concealing its heinous mechanical complexity in such a pleasing form.

Bellissima Famiglia: The Lexikon 80E aside the 80 and Lettera 22.

Particularly when juxtaposed with a Lettera 22, or even a standard Lexikon 80 for that matter, it’s easy to appreciate the artistic effort that went into creating Olivetti s first electric typewriter. Arguably, the only real downside to this electromechanical sculpture is its weight, and because of it my friend had good cause to try and renege on his offer. I imagined that when he was finally forced to carry it out to his car it must have felt like he was carrying a limp body out of a fire. When it was my turn to handle the Italian leviathan, my typewriter scale was its first stop. My eyebrows raised when I watched the scale’s spinning dial stop at 59.2 pounds (26.9 kg) and I realized that the Olivetti was a full four pounds heavier than the reigning heavyweight in my collection, the Olympia SGE 50/51. Those fortunate enough to find an 80E fitted with the optional carbon ribbon system would have a 60-plus pound machine to contend with, and a good reason to cancel their gym membership.

After a cursory cleaning and having satiated my initial desire to just enjoy the view, I moved on to more practical matters and plugged the machine in. My friend had not lied, it didn’t work. The problem was quickly diagnosed, and with its defective power cord repaired the Lexikon fired to life. To my relief everything functioned as it should, and although the machine types willingly there is an odd clunking sound coming from underneath the hood that will require further investigation.

While testing the machine it became obvious that its electromechanical mechanism was a great equalizer, and that this Olivetti standard was endowed with the best of both worlds: it had both beauty and performance. The inherent characteristics of the electric typewriter addresses my biggest complaint with mechanical Olivetti standards having disappointing type actions, and to steal and adapt a little Hunter S. Thompson, the Lexikon 80E’s typebars leap up with the slightest touch of its keys like frogs in a dynamite pond. For someone who would have considered a non-functional electric Lexikon money well spent, this was purely a bonus.

Atlas may shrug at all this mortal prattle, but I consider the Elettrica Lexikon a must-have for any collector whose appreciation of typewriters transcends the practical and enters the realm of art.

the Details: Olivetti Lexikon 80E

Olivetti Lexikon 80E FrontOlivetti Lexikon 80E Keyboard
Olivetti Lexikon 80E RightOlivetti Lexikon 80E Left Side
Olivetti Lexikon 80E Ribbon SelectorOlivetti Lexikon 80E Paper Table
Olivetti Lexikon 80E TypefaceOlivetti Lexikon 80E Impression Control

1958 Olivetti Lexikon 80E - Type Sample