Last week, I dropped off the cleaned-up Royal KMM at Moe’s shop.
While I was there, Moe asked me to take a look at a couple new typewriters she had gotten in. One was a S-C Clipper in stinky/dirty condition but fine fettle typing-wise. I told Moe I would take the Clipper home, clean her up, throw in a new ribbon and bring her back. Some of the key tops are rotated in peculiar directions, so I will try to put them right.
The other typewriter was displayed precariously (Moe-style) on an unreliable-looking pile of things.
It was a very nice 1963 Hermes 3000, serial number 3184055
The case was very dirty, but contained the manual and one brush.
ACK – that horrible ribbon. I couldn’t leave it like that.
I told Moe I would take the Hermes 3000 home for a clean-up and new ribbon. That would give me chance to play with a Swiss-made typewriter for a little while.
Easier Said than Done – Hermes 3000 Bottom Cover Removal
I brought the 3000 home and did a light cleaning. It didn’t need much. There was a service ticket from 1976 taped inside the ribbon cover. The Hermes 3000 appears to have spent the last 40 years protected inside its case.
The machine had some eraser crumbs, so I decided to remove the bottom cover so that I could thoroughly clean the insides.
First I unscrewed the four feet. I assumed that the bottom cover would pop right off. No. The back part of the bottom cover pops off easily, but I ended up having to tilt the machine up from the bottom cover like this and sliding it to clear the tabs that hold the space bar in the front of the machine.
I then took it outside and carefully blew out the dust and eraser crumbs (and stray paper clips).
I then wiped it down, put it back together and considered the machine.
The Popular Oddball
Seen through my 21st century lens, this machine is pretty funky looking. Is it a “classic” example of mid-century industrial design? I don’t know. I think it was weird then and it is weird now.
To me, the design is smart — it makes the offbeat desirable. Many people (though not all) look at the Hermes 3000 and say, “That’s really weird looking, but I love it”. The Hermes 3000 has an oddball sophistication which may explain its popularity among collectors. It is the second most popular model at Typewriter Database behind the Royal Quiet De Luxe.
Cute As a Bug
It then struck me that the Hermes 3000 reminds me of a VW Beetle. Once I saw it, I couldn’t unsee it.
The Hermes 3000 even has little bug antennae.
I love those squat, plumpy curves.
Lastly (and serious collectors, don’t hate me for this) the Hermes 3000’s weird bulbosity brings to my feverish mind these things as well:
That’s enough of that. No more peyote for me.
And about that seafoam and mint green color combo: apparently they were very “happening” colors back in the day as seen in:
I think that the Hermes 3000 pulls off an impressive feat: it manages to make the seafoam and mint green combo tasteful and timeless.
The Umbrella that Wasn’t
What I thought was an umbrella printed on the back of the machine is actually a stylized crossbow, a symbol that was used as the Swiss “mark of origin” starting in 1931 (at least according to one source).
Pronouncing “Hermes” is problematic for me. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. I cannot bring myself to pronounce Hermes as “her-meez”. It’s way too close to “herpes”.
Old-timey Hermès machines (such as this 1923 Hermès 2 in Typewriter Database have decals that show an è in the name “Hermès” leading me to assume that it is pronounced “Air-mez”, like the luxury brand.
When did Hermes lose l’accent grave on the second e? Sometime after the Hermès 3 apparently.
Without the accent, I suppose that the pronunciation should be “Airm”. I will have to check that with my French-speaking Swiss friend Sophie and confirm. Maybe they do things differently in Switzerland. While I await confirmation, I will continue to call this an “Hermès Trois Mille (Air-mez Trwa Meel)” because I took French in high school.
So how does it type? I can’t touch-type (I must have been absent the day they taught typing at school). I hunt and peck very fast and really slam the keys, so the “mushy” feel of the Hermes 3000 that many people complain about makes no difference to me. My professional opinion: it’s a really good typewriter.
The Squatty Squatter: When Typewriters Won’t Go Home
After the clean-up, the Hermes 3000 took up residence in an unused back bedroom. The darn thing would not go home to Moe’s shop. The Hermes 3000 kept looking at me solemnly with its bulging minty-green eyes. “Good gravy, 3000! Go home to Moe’s”, I said. Oh my goodness, it WINKED at me.
So now I have a squatter in my home. I gave Moe a bunch of money and resigned myself to the fact that I have a new face in the house. It’s not the worst thing in the world.