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20-12-2013 01:23:45  #1


My 'Big Three', but what's number four?

http://i.imgur.com/8eeOjcK.jpg
These three machines are my pick of the best post-war portables, but there is something missing; a comprable Smith-Corona. 

Which model from S-C should I stand along side these for a four-way test of the best?  I have little experience of S-C machines.  A Sterling? A Super SIlent?  Any opinions welcome.

Last edited by beak (20-12-2013 03:26:54)


Sincerely,
beak.
 
 

20-12-2013 03:27:08  #2


Re: My 'Big Three', but what's number four?

Post-war is a very large era in the history of typewriters. It spans five decades and covers a number of remarkable changes in design and the prominant materials used in their construction. 

Considering the machines you have chosen for your comparison are all from within a ten year period, I would look for a fourth that was made between 1955 and 1965. And to be fair it should be a machine that has similar features, which in this case would be a machine that includes a tabulator that can be set from the keyboard.

When looking at the five Smith-Corona Super-5 series models, there are really only two modes that fit the bill: the Super, or the Silent-Super. The Sterling and Silent models have fewer keys, and just like the Clipper, the tabulator uses tab stops that have to be manually set behind the carriage.


https://i.imgur.com/OZeuKtA.jpg
 

20-12-2013 06:51:27  #3


Re: My 'Big Three', but what's number four?

I like the Hermes 3000. I love the curves and style. 


"Not Yet Published" - My History Blog
"I just sit at a typewriter and curse a bit" - Sir Pelham Grenville "P.G." Wodehouse
"The biggest obstacle to professional writing is the necessity for changing a typewriter ribbon" - Robert Benchley
 

20-12-2013 08:13:26  #4


Re: My 'Big Three', but what's number four?

Uwe wrote:

Post-war is a very large era in the history of typewriters................

Yes, I guess that is a broad term, but to me the expression meant machines from the 50s and 60s simply because I've never seen any great machines built much later than this - but that could just be my lack of experience.

Out of interest, what machines would anyone consider 'great' from the 70s and 80s or even later; ones that would stand up to the three pictured?

Shangas - yes indeed, but you have to like green!


Sincerely,
beak.
 
     Thread Starter
 

23-12-2013 00:45:41  #5


Re: My 'Big Three', but what's number four?

Just for amusement, I wanted to know which of my three best portable typewriters (Hermes 3000 / Olympia SM4 / Alpina SK24.  There’s a picture of them at the top of this thread) is actually the best, and which I would chose if I could keep only one of them.  A hopeless task?  Perhaps - but some interesting points came out when testing them against each other, and I learned much about each machine in along the way.
 
All three of these machines offer a full range of features; keyboard tab setting, baseline zeroing and so on; everything you could wish for is there on all of them.  How easy they are to operate on each is not the same, however, and there are design differences throughout which make a comparison possible.  Though any such test must contain an element of personal preference, I hope that I have minimized any personal bias.  I’m not a typewriter mechanic, so cannot comment about the servicing ease or the internal engineering qualities of the machines; I’m just an ordinary typer.
 
Here are my conclusions, in précis.
There is just one thing that puts the otherwise wonderful Hermes 3000 into third place; the paper support!  That probably shows how close my results were.  Not only does the Hermes’ paper rest not cause the paper to stand up straight so that the whole page may be seen, it lacks the engraved marks showing the user exactly how many lines of typing remain available on the current sheet of (standard A4) paper.  I can find no other fault; apart from this, it is a wonderfully thought-out machine, with a brilliant margin-setting device, the best case of the three by a long chalk, and it is the quietest of the three.  The carriage controls are all excellent, and the machine is pleasant to look at too – provided that you are not averse to bright ‘mint’ green keys and accents.  If I could fit the paper support from the Olympia to it, the Hermes 3000 may even approach perfect, since I do like its soft, though solid-feeling action.
 
And now comes the major headache; do I place the Alpina SK24 at the top, or the Olympia SM4?  It is really difficult to decide.
 
I could choose the SM4 immediately on the single criterion that it has a smaller footprint than the Alpina, taking up less desk space.  Or I could chose against it just as readily based on its fiddly and uninformative line-spacing selector, and the somewhat awkwardly-placed left carriage release button, or the fact that the shell immediately in front of the space bar is quite thin, and it is easily bent inwards, so fouling the space bar and tab controls, though just as easily bent outwards again to cure the problem.  But if I were to choose the Alpina, there is the chance that the Olympia’s extraordinary typing action would be missed.  Oh – but if I chose the Olympia I would surely miss the fantastic carriage return lever and wonderful controls of the Alpina!  Help!
 
A choice between them just has to be made.
Given that the Alpina’s typing action is still in the ‘superb’ class, it is the Alpina that I choose as the best of these three machines, and that choice is finally dictated by the Alpina’s generous, comfortable, well-designed and solidly-built controls.  This machine is an absolute joy to use from start to finish, and one is never at a loss for an easy-to-use control, nor in doubt about where to find it.  It is extraordinarily well built; the Alpina is a tank.  If I pushed these machines off the back of my desk, letting them fall to the floor, my money would be on the Alpina to be the one that still worked.  Were I to try to improve it, I would swap the case and the margin-setting device for those of the Hermes 3000, and the typing action for that of the Olympia SM4, though this last would be a marginal improvement at best.
 
In my view, any of these three machines would be a great choice to be one’s only typewriter (portable OR standard), and would be a typing companion for life.  There are smaller & lighter portables available, if that would be a deciding factor for anyone, but none are full-featured, to my knowledge – correct me if I’m wrong, please.  I would like to hear about any other portables that are comparable to these three, and am happy to try to answer any questions if you are thinking of buying any of them.  Hope it was useful!

Last edited by beak (23-6-2014 01:36:25)


Sincerely,
beak.
 
     Thread Starter
 

23-12-2013 01:06:47  #6


Re: My 'Big Three', but what's number four?

I would PERSONALLY select the Hermes. It's a classic 1950s design. I've heard many good things about it, and if I had to own a postwar machine, that would be it. 

I've heard excellent things about Olympias, from a mechanical standpoint, but the styling doesn't appeal to me. I think they look too similar to the larger desktop models which the company makes. There's not enough to differentiate the portables from the desktops. 

The Alpina holds nothing for me. 

Based on that, I'd pick the Hermes. 


"Not Yet Published" - My History Blog
"I just sit at a typewriter and curse a bit" - Sir Pelham Grenville "P.G." Wodehouse
"The biggest obstacle to professional writing is the necessity for changing a typewriter ribbon" - Robert Benchley
 

23-12-2013 05:58:03  #7


Re: My 'Big Three', but what's number four?

Shangas wrote:

...........................
Based on that, I'd pick the Hermes. 

'You who choose not by the view
Chance as fair and chose as true
...'

Just relaized that I have never seen anything on post-war machines from you.  I wonder why:- a way of making the interest containable?  -  other?

Yes, I do like the Hermes too, and I'm glad that I do not really have to make the hyperthetical choice!
 

Last edited by beak (02-1-2014 10:16:38)


Sincerely,
beak.
 
     Thread Starter
 

23-12-2013 23:32:31  #8


Re: My 'Big Three', but what's number four?

The vast majority of postwar machines do not interest me. They have no craftsmanship or style that attracts me. The Hermes 3000 is one of the few that I like. 


"Not Yet Published" - My History Blog
"I just sit at a typewriter and curse a bit" - Sir Pelham Grenville "P.G." Wodehouse
"The biggest obstacle to professional writing is the necessity for changing a typewriter ribbon" - Robert Benchley
 

05-1-2014 10:44:18  #9


Re: My 'Big Three', but what's number four?

Ok, Shangas et al....what about a PRE-WAR typer.  Which are the top 3 or 4?    I'm looking to get one, and I think I've narrowed it down to a Royal Standard "O" Touch Control (if I have the name correct), or an Underwood Standard Champion.....but I don't like the action on the Underwood as much as on the Royal.

Thoughts?

 

05-1-2014 13:46:49  #10


Re: My 'Big Three', but what's number four?

Maybe the model you tried wasn't in good condition. The 1930s Champion and Universal models that I own type just as well as my Royals from the same era. Post-war Underwood portables however are defintely not as good.


https://i.imgur.com/OZeuKtA.jpg
 

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