Saturday, December 3, 2011

Overrated Typewriters Vol. 1: The Hermes 3000


  1. I kind of agree. I have a Hermes 8, and the touch is about the same, like the keys are stuck in a bowl of mashed potatoes. It's a really an ambiguous typing experience compared to my Underwood 5 or even the relatively new and cheap Royal Mercury. I also noticed that the keys are pretty close together, so I make more mistypes.

  2. Yep -- you nailed it. I have found Hermes 3000's to be clever, more-than-usually-precise pieces of engineering, but for me the killer is the slushy touch. It feels like something is getting in the way of your typing. If you are an expert touch typist, this is not the best machine for you.

    By the way, I find your typecasts hard to read using the "lightbox" feature; they don't get big enough. "You may turn it off via Settings-Formatting-Lightbox" (to quote helpful advice by maschinengeschrieben on another blog).

  3. That's funny. For me, the touch is the best thing. I call it "buttery." I do agree about the platen knobs. I have two and they each have a knob problem. Can't agree on price - I got one for $7.99 and the other free. My Hermes Media is very good, but carriage-shifted.

  4. Cameron, I have to say, I don't think that the Hermes 8 is really that bad considering it's a standard, but then again I've never typed on one. But, I do have the Ambassador, but that was the top of the line typer, and it is absolutely amazing!

  5. Well,well, well. Somebody's trying to stir up a little trouble. While I still like the 3000, it's not my favorite typer. I much prefer the 2000. That's a great typing machine.

  6. I agree with the slushy touch and the precise feel...and for me, they work together to give me a unique, yet satisfying writing experience. I wrote my latest novel on one and I felt like my typing was both pleasureful and effortless. Now, if the precise feel wasn't there with the slushiness, I'd have a different opinion, but I really like the Hermes 3000 feel. I'm a touch typist and I feel, aside from the longer key travel, its very similar to a computer keyboard. I can certainly see how that could turn someone off...

    My platen knobs are solid. But mine was a French-Swiss machine purchased overseas, so maybe the exported ones had some issues? No issue with the margin setttings, although I rarely change them. They are complicated, until you get a manual, in my opinion.

    I will agree with pricing, as they do seem to be expensive. I only paid shipping for mine, which was $80 from Geneva, so I felt like it was quite the steal!

    Now, I've only typed on one Hermes 3000, so I don't have any others to compare with. I've heard a lot of great things about the 2000.

    I think love or hate it, its worth typing on one at some point in your life. I still put an Olympia SG1 at the top of my "feel" typers and then the Hermes 3000 is right behind it.

  7. One of the first on my list for 2012 is a 2000. I have 2 3000 typewriters. Both of them hail from 1966 although one is the curvey one and one is the more squared case one. What I like about mine is the overall quality and the case. I hate the large cases. I also like the older Royal cases, small and functional. I kind of like the touch of my Hermes, but it is not as clean and snappy as my old Royal Companion or my Underwood. The platen knobs on my round case machine are fine. I did replace one on my square shape machine. I was also able to find a knob that can easily be fit to the original Hermes bushing. However, to make the machine original if the knobs are broken is nearly impossible unless one can find a cheap parts machine. Ebay does have some good buys and if it were not for the Christmas spending I plan I'd have bought one of the machines you mentioned. Ebay also and more frequently has overly inflated prices.
    Great post. I like posts that get some discussion going.

  8. I think maybe you just got a bum 3000. I've had three--two curvy and one boxy. Two of the three are wonderfully snickety-snickety-snick typers, not slushy at all. The third, I should note, was all gummy when I got it, and after cleaning was ok, but never felt as perfect as the other two. That's the same one that gave Richard his bad experience, and I think that something happened to it during shipping.

    Of the three, one needed to have its margin indicators adjusted. Once that was done, they were not a problem.

    I also have a 2000, and to me the only real difference in touch is the carriage shift.

    Yes, the plastics are brittle, but I don't think it's fair to blame as an uncorrected production error something that took decades to appear.

  9. So...there's another person lurking around the Typosphere named CAMERON. Imagine that?

    I think it's great that you state your opinion. It certainly has garnered a lot of responses.

    I, myself have not had any personal experience with the Hermes line. I am curious about them.

    I agree with you that the Royals can be "snappy". My Royal "O" portable dating from Nov. 1935 is such a machine. I just wish it didn't SKIP!!!

  10. Yeah, my Hermes is definitely NOT snappy. I think that is mostly a Royal thing, although the one's I have had show a bit of skipping as well, so the overall typing experience is subpar when that happens.

    I forgot to comment on the case. I do prefer the clamshell case and covered bottom typers. I tend to do over 80% of my typing sitting on my favorite recliner and just resting the typer on my lap. With my Hermes 3000, Baby or SC Skyriter, peeling off the lid is quick and easy and I'm off to writing. Can't say the same when I have to take a typer out of the case...

  11. Alan- I'm not sure. Obviously everyone has a right to their opinion, but I've heard the same things I've mentiond from other people as well. But, you might be onto something.

    Deek and Cameron- I have actually never had any skipping problems with Royals, and I think it just is that I've been great with picking out the typewriters I have and that they are all in great condition. My 1926 Royal 10 has seen plenty of use, and it doesn't skip a bit. But I have heard that it can be a problem for some people, which is understandable. And also, I do quite a bit of traveling, so maybe I don't really NEED a clamshell case per se. But, they are very quick and handy, I must say. But I don't think that it offers as much protection as a regular case. Plus, you could always just keep the typewriter attached to the bottom of the case, which is what I have done sometimes if I want to type in my lap, etc. But I'm glad I've gotten a whole converssation going!

    P.S.- Cameron. Hermes typewriters are among the best around. I highly recommend the 2000, and if you can, try to get a Hermes Ambassador. They are amazing! Wow, this message is REALLY long.

    1. I own a Hermes Ambassador that I received from my great grandfather and have no use for it..

  12. I have 2 H3000's and both are wonderful to type on, not mushy at all - just buttery. I am not a touch-typist, so that may be one difference between what forms my opinion and what informs others. The knobs on my H3000's aren't cracked or brittle and the action I find very snappy.

    As for H2000's, I tried very hard to love mine, but it and 4 others I tried owned by other people had a horrible problem skipping on the letters "qweasdzx" (left-hand side of the keyboard), although most of them were fine in the hands of other people. If I ever could find one that didn't do this, I'd probably agree that the 2000 is "snappier" than the 3000.

    I don't discount your impression, but I would put forward that it depends a lot on the typist and the condition of the machine you get, whether it's the finest machine in the world or simply just *one* of the best. To be honest, since I obtained my Swissa I tend to think that the Swissa is better-built and snappier (and certainly smaller) than the H3000, but that also could be that I just have a really good-condition example that biases my opinion (:

    As for pricing, I would submit that we typospherians are incredibly spoiled by our $5 finds, and I would argue that this is an aberration, and that the $175 H3000's are actually pretty reasonably priced for the fine vintage writing machine that it usually is. Prices, I think, are actually trending towards reasonability as more people come to value typewriters instead of thinking of them as archaic junk. Enjoy the $5 finds as long as you can, though - it won't last forever. :D

  13. Well, Ted, my 2000 actually does not have any skipping problems, and it also makes a satisfying clackity-clack, but the 3000 makes more of a pew-pew-pew sound. I don't know. My 3000 is actually in nice condition, and it is happily going to a new home. I personally love my 2000 though, and I always will! And yes, it does depend a lot on the typist using the machines. I do type fast, but I don't necessarily touch-type. And I do agree on the smoothness of it, but I just don't find it too satisfying to type on.

  14. I do know that feeling. I'm the same way about Brothers and Silver-Seikos. But My H3000 is still my fave.

  15. I own both a 3000 and a 2000, swiss natives, and the Hermes 3000 is one of my top typewriters, while the 2000 is one of the most awkward ones. My Hermes 3000 defense post will appear on wednesday.
    Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their Hermes 3000.

  16. A little slow to react to these things, I'm afraid. I own two Hermes and they've both been disappointing to me. My Hermes 3000 is a magnificent machine which is beautiful and responsive to the touch. I'd use it for all my typing, if it didn't start skipping about midway across the page. It was a $10 Goodwill find, so I don't expect perfection. It's visually stunning, at least. My $20 Hermes Rocket is a fine typer...when I can get the paper to go in. About 50% of the time it simply won't take the paper when I try to feed it in. Then I come back 15 minutes later and there's no problem.

    I understand these are old machines and I allow for that. But I don't have these problems with my Olivettis, my Underwoods, or my Royals. I wish there were still typewriter repairmen in every town.

  17. Oh my, just purchased an Hermes 3000 (the newer 1970s clunky type assembled in Hungary) and am excited to see what kind of typer it is. Yes, I used ebay but these newer 3000s are less desirable, so the price was pretty good - but not garage sale good I'm afraid! New to this hobby and only have a few other typewriters to compare to: an Adler J5 from the same era (which types quite well), a Royal Quiet De Luxe from 1949 (a bit sticky still) and a 1990 daisy-wheel electronic from Sharp (never had one so was curious as to how these work.)

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  19. How about the prices now? Today $175.00 would be a bargain for a nice Hermes 3000.