I wasn't sold on the Hermes 3000 before I touched its unique rectangular keys with their stylishly rounded edges. In photos, I thought it was ugly. To consider purchasing a typewriter this color, requires commitment unless you're a hipster.
When you see it in person, you can almost smell Jack Kerouac chain-smoking camels and drinking whiskey while hovering over its mid-century modern design. But, when you get closer, you realize it's just a tad musty.
I don't know the full story of this unit, but it wrote at least one book this century, and that's pretty good for an old green beast like this.
Initially, I had searched local typewriters for sale on a whim. Fueled by nostalgia, I thought I might find a device for some photos to post in video shorts for Tiktok, one that worked and one I would use, too.
I've touched more antique printing presses than mechanical typewriters, but the typewriter has always inspired the logo for this blog. I've been writing for almost fifteen years. If writing is my journey, then blogging has been my Mt. Everest:
- I lost control of my website address in 2013
- I had to abandon my writer's group the same year because my Internet service overseas was ten years behind.
- I lost access to my content on Blogger, because I changed my password during an update and immediately forgot it in 2015.
- I stopped writing for five years after I realized my first book was terminally amateur.
- I was banned from Twitter in 2019 for using language only algorithms could flag.
I eventually overcame every obstacle. I got back on Twitter when the world's richest man bought it. I bought back my website after the person who snatched it from me got bored. Resilience is persistence. I'm like a weed whose root snaps off halfway and grows a new sprout the following week. And now, so is my typewriter. It's still clacking and dinging years after all the computers I grew up with have been layered in the ground.
A light opened in the heavens and shone on my Hermes 3000 as if I were the King Arthur of independent writers the first time I set my fingers on its keys. Birds sang. I'm sure I heard a few trumpets.
But, I didn't think I wanted this hulky green model. I had found a neat East German unit, which would be sitting on my desk now if the seller hadn't given me an opportunity to try three different devices. The Optima -late 1950s - ten out of ten for appearance, but the high and tight location of the keys wasn't as pleasant as the snot-colored Hermes. Then, the Hermes 2000 - 1930s device, likely owned by a Hollywood screenwriter during its golden era - even had a guild sticker to bolster its historic credibility. Memories of my grandfather's old machine flooded back as I moved over the 2000.
I recalled struggled with the "a" button while typing a business letter for him as a kid. My grandpa Lenton had an eye for quality and, as an engineer, an appreciation for simple, effective design. He had worked where they made oscilloscopes in Beaverton, Oregon, which in many ways resemble computers with CPUs, GPUs, and power supplies. He understood computer parts in ways few of us do, but still preferred the humble typewriter - top-of-the-line humility.
In the end, I choose the Hermes 3000. I am utterly thrilled with the tidy case and sleek metal. I love watching the letters appear as the keys fall. The sound transports me. I may never buy or use another mechanical typewriter, but I will call this one Excalibur. Someday, I'll pass it on to the next writer who uses it, cherishes it, and indulges their imagination on its funny green frame. I might try to get rid of the smell, or maybe not because this Cadillac of Typewriters is glorious just the way it is.