Messenger of the Gods

Hermes 3000, second generation.

Hermes 3000, second generation.

The Hermes 3000 is, from what I have read on the web, widely regarded as a very fine machine, often making it high in the ‘top ten’ lists of the best typewriters for actually using (as distinct from collecting). I have just two typewriters, both purchased for use rather than as collectables. The first was an Olivetti Dora, a pretty bog~standard portable from the late 60s, made in their Barcelona factory and to some extent built down to a price — it has a plastic case, and omits common features like a paper stand, tabs, and touch adjustment. Having said that, it also leverages years of development by Olivetti, and it is a pretty solid and useful typing machine. It is currently in the little lean-to (well, hut made from a converted packing case) that we have down the back of the property, where one can go an do some typing without electricity or distraction. The 3000 is a different class of machine; heavier, metal, full-featured, with multiple tab positions, touch control, four position ribbon height and so on. Interestingly, it still does not have a separate key for unity (one) or for exclamation mark, both reuse other keys (the one is an el, l, and the exclamation mark is a single quote above a full stop, 1). The Hermes is nicer to type on. The force needed to get an even imprint is less, the keys feel more solid and yet better conforming under the fingers, and I find the typebars (hammers with letters on) jam less often. Having said that, I doled out the extravagant amount of $50 for the 3000, which is right at the top of what I was prepared to pay; Mine is from the late 60s, and has the second generation shape, squarer than the much-lauded rounder shape of earlier ones. I don’t mind. A typewriter’s curves are not a prime consideration, as far as I am concerned, although it they could be reason not to make the purchase; I doubt I would have bought a third-generation 3000, since they are boxy and plastic (and not made in Switzerland, I believe, whereas mine is a Swiss one).

DSCN5565_cropThe attraction of the typewriter is incredibly idiosyncratic. I find that I just want to type. I may not have anything to write, but I want to use the thing.

It sounds great. A pile of sheets of paper accumulating on the desk is a very satisfactory thing, and provides motivation to keep working. I’m not connected to the internet, which adds to my ability to focus. On the downside, it is a little noisy and I feel inhibited from typing in the house at night.

Here, below, Is an example of the text from the 3000. The typeface is smaller than there Dora, although the same machine was available with different typefaces of course.

Some typing on the Hermes 3000, on reused and rather crumpled paper....

Some typing on the Hermes 3000, on reused and rather crumpled paper….


Bottom line; speaking as a pretty ignorant typewriter user (I know little abut their history or folklore, I don’t know what brand of machine Hemingway used or anything like that, and I have not sampled a wide variety), the 3000 feels like a quality machine. It goes as fast as I can, and has a nice loud bell and exudes a feeling of solidity and careful design. I can see why they are so highly regarded.

And now I just have to stop myself from turning into a collector.

This post was written on the 3000 and scanned in using this script, then  fixed up in LibreOffice.


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About Darren

I'm a scientist by training, based in Australia.

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