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Sunday, 24 March 2013

Homage to the Humble Hermes 2000 Typewriter


I use the word "humble" advisedly. The Hermes 2000 has been, I believe, undeservedly overshadowed by its stablemates, the Hermes 3000 and the Hermes Baby. The 2000 was actually the first Hermes portable typewriter Paillard made, in 1932, followed by the Baby in 1935. But the Baby, which started life as the Featherweight, is one of the most significant machines in portable typewriter history. And the 3000 has been allowed to establish its own reputation, as a favourite with writers such as Larry McMurtry. This has unfortunately left the 2000 languishing in comparative obscurity. But it is a far, far better typewriter than most in its size range. Indeed, the three 2000s I tested today are all among the nicest typewriters I have ever used. So here is my tribute to the "humble" Hermes 2000:
Georg Sommeregger image
Georg Sommeregger images

14 comments:

Scott Kernaghan said...

Those are magnificent and beautiful machines, no doubt about that. I haven't had the good fortune to get a H2K as yet... And I would love to give one a bit of a go at some point.

But that can wait! I have too many Hermes machines as it is. Great post Rob.

Richard P said...

This model definitely deserved some attention. I have a '30s version and I agree that it's very handsome and a high quality typewriter.

Was this the first Hermes, or do you mean the first portable Hermes?

gee said...

I have to agree... the 2000 is a wonderful machine and I like it better than my 3000.

The Hermes 8 is even a greater value since it is even more undervalued than the 2000.

Dwayne F. said...

I ran across a third generation 2000 last year at an antique store. Now you are making me regret not bringing it home.

Thanks for the review. The first generation machine is a looker!

shordzi said...

!Viva la Hermes 2000! For me it has always been No. 1. It's pedigree is interesting: there is good reason to believe that it descends from the Italian produced Oliver portable. Technically, many similarities. And then, G. Prezioso worked for Oliver Italy before being recruited by Paillard - right off the Milan fair, and with a portable typewriter model ready ;) more to come, just writing an article about this.

maschinengeschrieben said...

For a long time, I preferred the Hermes 3000 - but then, I used another Hermes 2000 earlier this year - and I revised my opinion. A Rehabilitation.

Rob Bowker said...

Thanks for such an enthusiastic write-up on the H2k. They are certainly distinctive looking and your description of the typing pleasure to be had is JUST the sort of encouragement it takes to set one on a quest. I especially like the look of the yellowy hard cases. I suppose whenever one buys a machine untested and untried, there's scope for either dismay or elation at the actual way the damn thing types. As well as the symphony of clickety clacks and pings and ratchety crankings, there' the degree to which the typewriter just stays well out of the way and not interfering by fault or design in the fluent trnsmission from brain to page. This odd combination of mechanical eficiency, ergonomics and panache all combine to enrich the typing experience. I suppose it is the thirst to refresh this experience that drives one to try out 'just one more' and ten that'll be enough. I wonder if an H2K will be my next fix?

Robert Messenger said...

Thank you Scott, Richard, Gee, Dwayne, Georg, Florian and Rob for your comments. Thanks Richard, I have made that correction - my oversight. Dwayne, I don't believe you'll regret the Hermes 2000 experience. Georg, I look forward to reading your piece. Rob, a beautifully written, considered comment, all so very true. Yes, as with Dwayne, I think the Hermes 2000 will be an excellent "fix" for you.

Anonymous said...

how much is a hermes baby in grey/mint green worth?

Rob Bowker said...

So I recently sold (offloaded) a late Brother and an unloved SCM Empire Corona. Together I just about got back what I paid for them and guess what come up for local collection? An H2K from a seller in Oxford. I just quickly slipped in a replacement ribbon to try it out and everything you say rings true. Magic margins, suberbly engineeered touch control and a businesslike feel to it (massive contrast to the Graphika I've been using recently). It looks as though this one's 1955 vintage. It puts up a good fight against the Olympia SMs of the same vintage.

Mochammad Faizun said...

I users typewriter from Indonesia. I also have hermes 2000 the first generation. But there is a bit of damage, namely the interesting gear head typewriter. Small gears that move the typewriters head shake and chipped. Is Hermes typewriter same types exist in the gear wheel? Or maybe there are other brands typewriter same, to take some spareparts.

Martín said...

Do you have a handbook of this typewriter? I mean, a PDF file? Tks

Roy Sowers said...

I found the HERMES 2000, YESTERDAY AT A SALE $1.00 no tax .... I need a new ribbon to make it complete....I love the action . r sowers

Martin.C Smith said...

Lovely history, thanks for posting it. I have been storing the Hermes 2000 that was used by the author Wallace Breem when he wrote "The eagle in the snow", "The legate's daughter" and "The leopard and the cliff". It's going to his goddaughter whenever she can find room for it.

Martin