Akin to the cherished cacophony of raindrops pounding upon a corrugated iron roof, the typewriter-drought that I have been whinging about for a while has now been broken. For ages I had been keeping a close eye on German eBay for something fancy, however in the space of three weeks, three different machines came up within a 15 minute drive.
Hermes 3000- 1969- Serial number: 3532894
I’ve never owned a Hermes before, but everyone raves about them. The Swiss quality, the delightful action, the ambiguous pronunciation of the brand name... This one as it turned out also came with a story. It was one of these awesome experiences where you rock up, open the case and hey presto, you have yourself a perfect little time capsule. The case was solid metal and the typewriter inside was preserved as well as the case suggested it would be. Complete with instruction manual and original Hermes guarantee, I decided I liked this machine straight away.
The seller I’d spoken to on the phone said she was selling it for her mother and was in the process of painting her house when I arrived. She came out dressed in paint-speckled overalls and was closely followed by the aroma of turpentine. An elderly gent sat on the porch sipping tea. She said that her mother had bought the typewriter brand new from Melbourne before they moved up to Brisbane in 1970. I assumed that it was part of a deceased estate, but to my delight, the very mother she spoke of emerged from inside the house. Similar to her husband who was still drinking his tea on the porch, this thin white-haired lady looked to be in her late 80's. I chatted to her for a short time about Melbourne, typewriters, Swiss engineering and how to pronounce "Hermes". She said she had used it for general correspondence and sometimes lent it to her kids for them to type up the occasional school or university assignment. She mustn't have used it all that much though, or at least had it serviced it regularly, as it's in splendid condition. The sticker on the back is from a highly reputable Brisbane office machines company from whom she’d bought ribbons and had it serviced. Apparently it had been idle for many years and in the middle of a clean out the daughter had decided to sell it and was pleased it was going to a good home.
N.B. Being able to convey the goodness of one’s home is a very useful skill to have when buying typewriters.
Once home, I was interested to learn that the Hermes 3000 series progressed over three design iterations and mine was number two in this progression. For a comprehensive look at three iterations, see: http://www.typewriters.ch/collection/hermes_3000.html. However, to quickly summarize, the designs went from the delightfully rounded, delightfully green spaceship-esque first design...
...To my slightly boxier, slightly more modern looking second iteration (also featured by Richard Polt here)...
...Through to the very computer-age looking third iteration showcased by Scott K here...
I love the progression, as it is a great little showcase of changing design trends through the 50's, 60's and 70's. Not having used one before I now appreciate what many before me have raved about; my Hermes 3000 types as good as it looks; nice snappy crisp action, quiet, precise and comfortable. A sample of its work is the typecast of my previous post.
Royal Portable Model O- 1936- Serial number: O-623857
This shiny little thing came up locally on eBay, with a loud disclaimer in the description that it was lacking a vital component that rendered it inoperable. Irrespective of whether or not I can get it going again and irrespective of it being a very common model, it knocked me for six when I first opened the case. If I can't get it going, it will pass off very nicely as a vanity mirror, it's that shiny. I'm also a huge fan of the positioning of the touch control on the Model O's: smack bang in the middle of the front of the typewriter, as if shouting "Look at me!!" On later machines when touch control became more commonplace, it is more likely to be found hiding beneath the ribbon cover or as a discrete dial on the side, but I love it how on these Royal Model O's, the touch control is such a focus of the machine, such a celebration of the new technology and such a selling point.
I can offer no history on this machine other than its previous owner imported it from America expecting a working typewriter. I can also offer no sample of its work, as it isn't working.
Remington Envoy- Serial number: can't find the bloody serial number
The last in my quick succession of drought breaking typewriter purchases was more a case of "why not?" The machine in question is an uninspiring Dutch made Remington Envoy which came up locally on Gumtree. I have no particular affinity for most late model plastic-cased typewriters, but the price was right and the drive was short. What I didn't expect however, was the condition. I honestly wonder whether this machine has been used more than a handful of times in it's entire life. There's no eraser shavings on the base, hardly any grit or dust at all, no gunge in the type-slugs, no markings on the case or the cover and it sports the most supple rubbery platen I think I've ever encountered.
Not being able to find the serial number (any clues?) and due to it's immaculate condition I originally thought it was late 70's, but Robert's blog post on Dutch made Remingtons (here) leads me to believe that it might be early 70's or even late 60's.