Sunday, November 01, 2020

Deeper into the Cult

1961 Hermes 3000
“Deeper Into the Cult”

Regarding the right-rear corner of the chassis being bent, I don't see a corresponding dent in the outer body shell itself. Which makes me wonder if perhaps it were dropped, or suffered a heavy blow, at sometime while being "serviced," while outside of the body shell. There were also several external screws that seemed to be in the wrong location, such as the two panhead screws that attach the rear panel to the carriage side panels, one screw was longer than the other. I've serviced consumer electronics long enough to take notice of these tell-tale signs of sloppy craftsmanship, suggesting that perhaps this machine had sat around as a broken, dropped typer, and someone finally decided to get it together in good enough shape to sell.

It's not really that important to me that I know its precise history, only that I was able to get it back into good runnning order -- minus the visible flying margin indicator ribbons, of course; I'm not going to attempt to piece those back together. But this machine does serve to remind me once again that each machine, like a person, has its own, unique history; which, in the case of inanimate objects, are unable to directly tell their tale. We can only deduce clues indirectly. This is one reason why I prefer, after having serviced a machine back to good working order, to leave it in as original condition as possible, so that whatever subtle reminders exist can serve as evidence of its history. I personally do not prefer the affectation of tarting up an old machine to look as if it were new, erasing all evidence of its history in the process.

I referred once again to the Cult of Hermes, a turn of phrase coined by my friend Kevin Kittle. Aside from the obvious humor of the phrase, there is some degree of truth in it. I've now owned four such machines. First up is our family electric typewriter, a Hermes 10, bought by my Dad in the early 1970s for us kids to use in school.


Then came the 1970s H3K that I purchased from Brown & Smith, that I still have.


Some years later I found a nearly identical machine, different color and typeface, from a local thrift store. Here's both machines side-by-side:


It was at the time when I was servicing this second Hermes 3000 that I noticed how much smaller in size the internal chassis was. This gave me immediate inspiration to turn it into the Nekkid-Riter ("nekkid" being the same as "naked," except you're up to no-good!)


A discussion of Hermes wouldn't be complete without mentioning my Hermes Rocket, seen here at the cigar lounge at Stag Tobacconist:

Hermes Rocket at Stag Tobacconist

This machine belonged to an Air Force officer who was involved in the development of the SR-71 reconnaissance plane, so it has a rather unique provenance. I had it serviced by Bill Wahl of Mesa Typewriter Exchange, and is perhaps my best ultra-portable machine.

Getting back to this newest-to-my-collection 1961 H3K, subsequent to typing this piece I added several plastic split-washers under the carriage return arm (from my assortment of legacy VCR parts), and this has made the carriage return arm more secure. There is evidence that the arm had been loose for a long time, as the ribbon cover is scratched from use. I suspect the machine was once improperly serviced and subsequently used extensively.

I never lusted after this era of Hermes 3000, yet here it is. It makes me wonder what else might drop into my lap from the Cult of Hermes. We shall see.

I owe my friend Bill Tefft a debt of gratitude for helping me acquire this machine.



Blogger Bill M said...

Nice looking H3k.
My first curvy H3k was also one which was dropped and needed the aluminum plates reformed. It is now one of my good typing Hermes collection. It took me a while to like the curvy cases, but I immediately took to the fine action of these machines. I find this series much nicer than the square body machines. I never typed on a newer plastic body one.

11:45 AM  
Blogger Ted said...

Delightful addition to your Corral! I use my own H3k sparingly - it is a totally luxe typing experience. :D

7:50 PM  
Blogger HBlaine said...

Congrats on the new H3K! I was lucky enough to acquire one locally at a town-wide yard sale about a year ago. I paid too much for it, but it was a grail machine, so... It had some odd mechanical issues which all went away when I re-seated the base plate. And the guy I got it from had installed the ribbon wrong, which caused snagging. But once I got all the minor issues sussed out, it became my go-to machine. It’s the machine I grab first, even more than my beloved ol’ Remie Noiseless No. 7. They are great machines.

9:37 PM  
Blogger DonN said...

Some say the price went up due to the publicity from Larry McMurty, but I wonder. I have heard tell that in Europe they are not expensive, so I think it has more to do with the relative scarcity of them here than anything else. Not that they aren't great - I have two of them and would never part with either!

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Gregory Short said...

I actually feel drawn to the chiseled 1970's H3k with their comically oversized tab and margin release buttons. Of course, the bubbly 60's era machines were comical in their own way. One does have to wonder what factors make the typewriter world see the Hermes as the Holy Grail of modern typers. Maybe if I ever have the chance to use one, I will know. The Hermes Rocket is near the top of my wish list, but now I find myself starting off on the hunt for a Hermes 10. Electric Hermes? Mind blown.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Zealflowertattoo said...

I have yet to see one of these in person. Maybe someday I'll understand what all the hype is about (besides the obviously powerful celebrity endorsement). But for now I am way more intrigued by the much smaller (yet still mighty) relative, the Hermes Rocket. I have two!

2:31 PM  
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