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.
24 thoughts on “The Squatter: Hermes 3000”
Yes, please clear up the pronounciation. I’m still stuck with “her-meez” myself.
Hah! You thought you could get away with the catch-n-release without any of them sticking, eh? 😀
Somehow this Hermes burrowed into my cold heart. Never again.
Regarding pronunciation: nuh-uh – “her-meez” is too close to “her-peez” for me.
What’s so creepy about “her-peez”? It’s nothing more or less than the virus responsible for so-called cold sores!
“Never Again!” is what we swore the time before…
Love me some Depeche Mode – thank you.
Being German, I pronounce it pretty much like “hair” followed by “mess”.
Pronouncing the first part as “her” comes close, too, but “hair” sounds a good bit closer to my pronounciation.
The second part is short in German, so it’s “mess” instead of “meez”.
So for Germans it is more of a hair-mess instead of a her-peez.
But I do not know, how a person from the French-speaking part of Switzerland would pronounce it.
Thank you so much for the German pronunciation – “hair-mess” – which I like quite a lot.
He’d say Air-mess. A Jerseyman or Corsican would say Air-mezz. The proliferation of French accents in the world is second only to the proliferation of English accents, and I bet you my bottom pound that Mary’s pronunciation of “around and around the rugged rocks the ragged rascal rudely ran” differs HEAVILY from mine.
(and for anyone curious as to how Jerseymen talk, it’s essentially “cultured” English in the tradition of Hugh Grant)
This reminds me of the Let-air-a/Let err a with the stress on the second and first syllables respectively. I know Hermes is pronounced Air-mez but Hermes the messenger of the gods and who the typewriter must surely have been named is pronounced (in the UK at least) Hermeez – stress on the first syllable. And then there’s Adler’s Gabriele… 🙂
I’ll have to hunt down someone who worked for the New York Sixth Avenue Hermes distributor in the 1950s and 1960s and find out how they were instructed to say “Hermes”. Until I find that person, I will call this typewriter “The 3000” which seems to fit since it looks a little like a robot. 🙂
Hi Mary! You came by The Shop at Flywheel Press a couple months ago and expressed interest in tinkering and possibly helping revive a couple of our lovely typewriters at some point. Could you send us a quick email and let us know what you might “charge” for bringing new life into our little beauties? We love having them around and available for the kids and everyone who comes to The Shop, but they definitely take some wear and tear and need some TLC.
I would love to come by and bring new life to your beauties – no charge. Most of your typewriters just need a good cleaning and a new ribbon and they’ll be ready to get back to work. I will try to swing by in the next couple days and we can talk typewriters.
Ohhhhh… What a treat. I have one of these in very bad condition (haven’t figured it out yet) and I just got up the nerve over the weekend to try to get the bottom cover off to poke around. It was a bear! I didn’t get far. You’ve inspired me to try again, though. Thank you.
!! The above was me – I didn’t realize I was logged in under my other blog.
Love the Bug comparison!
So, to slide the bottom cover away from the space bar, is it a squeeze of the tabs or something else? I didn’t figure that out.
I’m sort of in the “hair-MEZ” pronunciation club. It’s likely entirely wrong. Most of the time I will fudge it and pronounce it like the god or the Futurama character, HER-meez.
The green is what got me – and that Kerouac had one at one point. I am glad this one stayed home with you!
So on my 3000, I removed the feet and was able to tip the machine forward (see the picture). The tricky part is this: There are metal tabs in the front of the bottom cover that catch near the space bar. I slid the machine to the side off the bottom cover to free the space bar and then the machine lifted free of the bottom cover. Hope that helps!
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Oh I am going to have to try that! I am on the fence about selling the 3000 for parts because it seems above my ability to fix at this moment, and one of the platen knobs is broken beyond repair. However, part of me keeps thinking I will learn enough with these other machines as I go along that I will finally be able to open and suss out the Hermes. I hope so! Thanks for the tip.
If another comment posted before this one it was a typo. These phone keys are just tiny!
(If you do give up and decide to part out your Hermès, I am interested in a set screw for the right platen knob mandrel, or, if both knobs are intact, both knobs on their mandrels.)
Oh, I’ll take this “hair-mess” if you insist. I received an email yesterday from a woman in the next town over asking if I’d be interested buying her Hermes. I played it cool…YES, YES, YES….oh, ok. Now I have my own 3K when I wasn’t officially looking at a price much, much lower than those on eBay. Another 1963 model with serial #32182212
Lucky you! My Hermes 3000 is one of my favorites to type on, and it always gives me a giggle when I look at it – ridiculously attractive to me.
“Air-mezz trwa meel” is the correct pronunciation—the accent was removed when Hermès went international.
That said, having an Hermès 3000 in the house is FAR from the worst thing in the world. I have a first-generation 3000 myself that I picked up in a VERY bad neighbourhood in London (Peckham) for cash (it was an eBay sale for local pick up, cost me £40). In excellent condition except for cosmetics (several dings and scratches on it, plus, as usual for Hermès machines, a missing platen knob).
I am convinced that the 3000 is THE best manual you can get, for any price. The keyboard is just delightful, as are the features, some of which you’ll only find on a top-of-the-line electric. I am a touch-typist and absolutely LOVE the buttery keys. They remind me of a computer keyboard, just with far more travel; since I’m a heavy-handed typist, I actually have to set the touch regulator to the top position because otherwise I puncture the paper.
Since you are now in the possession of two Hermès machines (as I recall, a broken boxy, late 1960’s script one as well as this curvy, early 1960’s delight), I must ask you—which one do you prefer cosmetically? I can not help but love my curvy one.
I do like my broken “boxy” 1970 Hermes 3000 and Joe Van Cleave’s mid-70s 3000 is a stunner, but I LURVE the curves of my 1963 Hermes 3000.
I am SHOCKED that your machine has both platen knobs intact. I had to cut off the other platen knob, then design a replacement in my own style (with deeper knurling and the name Hermès engraved into the centre) and 3d print two copies to put onto the platen knob mandrels. Cheap, but the time spent labouring in AutoCAD compensated for the low price.
My serial number is 3255077.
And I lied a little bit in my last post—as a Jersey French speaker, I say air-mezz with a trilled Italian-style “R”, but a Swissman would say air-mess with a back-of-the-throat French or German style “R”.
Actually there was an Hermès advert that said (translated from the French), “In 2000 B.C., Hermes, the hero deified by mythology, invents the alphabet; in 2000 A.D., Hermès is the perfect writing instrument.” Evidently predated the idea of the personal computer, but the advert actually got it right!
P.S. If you have a junker H3k (I assume so, since you haven’t fixed the boxy one), I’m missing one of the two set screws for the right-hand margin knob mandrel. Would you be interested in selling me a set screw?
I am going to try my level-best to repair my boxy 3000. It breaks my heart every time I look at it in its cattywumpus state. If I fail in my attempts to revive it, I promise you will be the first person to whom I will offer set screws or other parts.