The Changing of the Guard
Post-Script: I like the slightly weathered look of this machine, especially around the corners of the front frame. I also need to put a coat of car wax on her (yes, she's a she, though I haven't yet named her; "Gina," perhaps?)
The single biggest difference in haptics between this and the Hermes Rocket is the feel of the carriage return lever. On the Rocket, the lever is much shorter and often won't ratchet the line feed mechanism until the carriage is already returned; you get the sense that you could just as easily push the carriage back with its side knob, then turn the line feed index by hand; while on Gina the lever is longer and has a better feel to it. Plus, you can't beat the elegant mechanical design of the Lettera's folding lever, which makes the Rocket's seem primitive in comparison.
I think this is a good example where you can't reliably stereotype technology by country of origin; despite the Swiss reputation for watchmaking, for instance, the Italians did something remarkable with the Letteras, even considering various countries of manufacture over the years.
I've yet to head over to Staples and replenish my supply of green engineer's paper, upon which I normally typecast. Perhaps this afternoon.
Photo via Lumix G5, typecast via Olivetti Lettera 22.