Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Headless Typewriter Found in Bottomless Garage

(Optional subtitle: "Hello/Goodbye")

Hermes 3000, c. 1968

Fresh on the heels of what I thought was an awesome score this summer, the universe seemed to decide that it had enough of my griping about the relative rarity of the Hermes brand in this part of the world, and aligned in such a way that three Hermes 3000's showed up on Craigslist within a week of the arrival of my own, including one in my very own neighborhood. Fortunately for my ego, they were all priced the same as what I'd paid (including shipping) so I could breathe easy. And then, inexplicably, one showed up again just last week, one that I remembered from the summer. At a Drastic Discount.

You already know how this story is going to end.

So, I was out on a Craigslist meet-and-greet yesterday, spending a very satisfactory conversation with the previous owner of the above-pictured machine, a slightly earlier model than the one I'd grabbed over the summer, and more critically to me, in the desirable pica type size. I've gotten to the point where I'm trying to be more restrictive about the machines I keep around, and have realized that I just prefer pica to elite. My other 3000 is an elite, this one is pica. Checking Ted's excellent NOMDA scans, I see that this is the Epoca typeface, which is a very handsome san-serif typeface, which is an added bonus. Perhaps after cleaning and a new ribbon it might even be suitable for OCR work.

The seller was the former academic dean at the local community college and something of a collector: his garage is packed with what he jokingly called "the museum," which featured a broad assortment of just plain stuff: vintage toy cars and a barber's chair with attached ash tray, turntables, movie projectors, brass hose nozzles, mobile phones from the late 80s, and everything neatly labeled and shelved, with still more stuff in the shed. Stuff that started to take over his house, until his wife gently-yet-firmly suggested that he move it out of the living room and into the garage. (Visions of me in about 20 years here...)

His son wrote the book on our town's local history -- literally, it's for sale all over town -- so we also discussed writing, and free-writing, and I (of course) brought up NaNoWriMo and the Typewriter Brigade. He had a lovely old Royal Quiet De Luxe on display that belonged to his father, and featured Norwegian keys added on later. That one was a keeper, he said, and I agreed: it had a special story, and he's got kids to pass that along to. The Hermes was a yard-sale find from a neighbor down the street, and he had no such attachment to it, though he did admit to getting an email flame from someone in the Los Angeles area who was mad that he was letting this machine go for so little, presumably devaluing the LA seller's own machines. And the seller was not ignorant, either: he'd affixed a sticker showing a sample of eBay prices to the machine. He simply knew that he was done with it, and didn't need it, and that it was time for it to move on.

The only downside to the entire transaction -- and it is a very slight one -- is that I'm lacking the lid to the case. The seller never had one, and perhaps it was lost or broken by the previous owner: who knows. So, I've already pestered a few of you about the possibility of locating a new lid, and thrown out a request on the TYPESWAP group for the same. That's still in the works. At the moment, this machine is sitting beneath the dust cover from the other 3000, the 3000 that's now a surplus machine, and might be ready to move on. And while I'm thinking about it, perhaps it's time for Moses to mosey along too, he of the elite typeface and the persnickety space bar. I think it's time to take a little inventory around here and round up the machines that are ready for new homes before my darling wife moves me into the garage, too.


Ted said...

Ooh, Epoca is nice! I hope you find a hat for him. I'll have Bill keep an eye out, even if he doesn't have a lid in inventory.

May your winnowing of the herd be painless and spiritually rewarding (:

Bill M said...

Nice typewriter. I have a 3000 also -- Elite, prefer Pica. The Epoca typeface is much nicer than the plain typeface found on most machines. Nice find. Congratulations!

Cameron said...

So THAT'S what you were doing yesterday!

What a fantastic find, and a very interesting story.

Hermes 3000 is one of the few "yet-to-be's" in my collection. I would love to have one. And eat a pistachio ice cream cone while typing!

Adwoa said...

We have twin machines, then! Have you seen my late '60s Hermes 3000 with Epoca typeface? http://genevatypewriters.blogspot.com/2011/01/fixed-late-60s-hermes-3000-epoca.html

Art said...

If you consider winnowing the herd, please drop me an email--I would love to possible buy one from you, depending on the machine. :)