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A man of the cloth and the steel he wields


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  1. My travelling typewriter is going to be my Olympia Traveler DeLuxe. A much better machine than the SF or the Socialite, light, but with a ‘big machine’ feel unlike most ultra-portables. What do you think of them?

    The Empire Aristocrat takes a close second. They are lovely machines, and would definitely be my choice if I didn’t have the Traveler.

    1. I’ve not handled a Traveller DeLuxe before. I’ll have to be on the lookout for one, it’d be nice to find a travel Oly that I actually liked. (:

  2. Great review, Ted. Out take on the Olympia Splendid/Socialite is rather similar, it feels a bit to me like typing on a half-empty tin can. I don’t hate it though. I’ve always found the Swissa attractive, I test-typed Richard’s and liked the feel. I agree that Tower is much more easy on the eyes than Skyriter. But I would distinguish between the Letteras. I would not travel with an L35 because I don’t find it portable enough (although it is sturdy), L22 is another story but I don’t want to bore people with my Olivetti praising yet again. ( :

    1. I meant, “our take on the Olympia…”

  3. I’m going to have to agree with you on pretty much any of the smallest Brother portables being pretty much the best overall travel typewriter. When I used to have a Webster XL-500 that was my “outside typing” typewriter.

    What exactly is the definition of JP-1? Is it just what’s inside of all 3 of the Brothers you showed, and can have different body styles?

    1. A JP-1 is the same basic internal design that Brother used for the smaller manuals from 1963 up to the 80’s. I don’t believe it includes the later basket-shifted models, although I have owned one of those and found it satisfactory, but overly large and plastic-y. They put a variety of shells on the same basic guts for many years.

      The Brother Typewriter Story @ OzTypewriter
      BROTHER portable typewriters @ MoLG

      See also ETCetera #100 & 102

  4. Interesting write up. I have very few of these machines myself, so my comparisons would be quite different. That said, surely the Corona is as expensive to replaceas any of the European ones you don’t have?

    I like where these comparisons are going. I ,igot have to write up my own soon.

  5. Your logic is infallible. The restored machines shouldn’t be risked in less than perfect travel conditions. Decent and semi-disposable is a good combination.

    I’m in the okay with Olympia camp and actually like short throw. As noted in more than one location, I used a relatively uncommon Lettera 22 variant on my last family trip. I found it to be steady and reliable, but with a heavier touch than I would have guessed. It is a deliberate machine. Fortunately, an early ’90s thrift store laptop case fit this machine and kept it safe.

    I considered taking a first generation Royal portable. Gorgeous machine and it cost me all of $25. But it was a bit loud for use around the family.

    1. OOh, thrift store laptop case for the win! The one I bought along with the Brother Charger 11 above had the added free bonus of a USB wifi dongle and a bunch of assorted connecting cords for a laptop & ipod and such, that I only recently discovered when I went through the pockets.

  6. Very interesting points you make.

    One small defense of the li’l Olympia: you can adjust the heaviness of the shift by turning a couple of nuts under the hood that connect to springs.

  7. Thanks for that roundup. I’m a newb at portable typewriters. What would you say would keep you from considering a 50’s era Royalite? I’m trying to find more hands on experience with this machine.


    1. The touch and the sound of 50’s-era Royalites, Darts, Singer clones, etc. are quite tinny and cheap-feeling to me. I’ve not encountered any examples yet that I actually enjoy typing on. Obviously, I may not have encountered enough, but I have seen and typed on almost a dozen.

      1. Thanks. I’ll steer more towards the Rocket then if I can find one at a good price.


  8. Enjoyed the review tremendously. My current favorite is an Underwood Champion from the late 30s — I love the touch and it’s beautiful to look at too. I have a 30s Corona Standard as well but the touch strikes me as a little light.

    What in your view are the best portables judged by touch alone?

    Dan Gelernter

    1. It depends on your preference, really, but a 30’s Underwood portable is one I very much like the touch on as a snappy and solid typing experience. Olivetti 32s are very nice and have a “delicate” feel to them, Lettera 22’s are very hit and miss, some feel like you’re typing in sludge, others have a light, snappy touch that can’t be beat – in that case it depends on the specific machine and probably how it was maintained. I also think 1940’s Royal portables are wonderful to type on, as are Hermes 2000’s, although depending on your typing style, you may find those two can be “skippy”. An Olympia SM-9, Remington All-New, Triumph Perfekt or Hermes 3000 are luxurious-feeling and “pillowy”. Smith-Corona 5 and 6 series portables are snappy, fast and delightfully loose-feeling. I have had over 200+ machines under my fingers and I couldn’t say that any *one* of them is “the best”. For me, it’s the variety of flavors of touch that is interesting.

      1. Many thanks. I also have an Oly SM-5 but don’t much like the touch since the key travel varies with the tier of keys. Is the action different on the SM-9?

        Have a Royal portable from the 60s as well — was my grandparents’ and is the machine I learned to type on. Always found the action somewhat stiff however; how would you compare the 60s Royals to the earlier machines?

        1. Ahh, The SM9 is quite different from the SM3/5. complete redesign. Many consider the SM9 to be the best all-around typer ever made for basic typing.

          As for Royal Portables from the 60’s, I would consider the Futura 800 to be great, and the very portable Mercury and Mustang (actually made by Silver-Seiko in Japan) as great. I think the Sabre and Safari to be good but overly “boomy” because the body is large and hollowish. I don’t much like the 1950’s QDLs, but I love the 1940’s Royals. (:

  9. I just got my first portable. An Olympia SM3 from the 50s. I read the SM4 is easier on the fingers as it was updated with springs? Also read the 3 has springs. I like how it types and am now out for a Hermes 3000. Any advice on which might travel better? I can see how this will become addicting, but fun. Imagining all the words my typewriter has been called on to produce over the past 60 some years – lifetimes.

    1. Either the SM series or an H3000 will travel great. Very solid, dependable machines. Your arm will thank you for picking up a Hermes Rocket or Baby, though. The mid-sized machines will lengthen your arm carrying them around a lot :D

  10. I have two small typewritters one I belive is a Herms in a medal case very small maybe for a reporter on the go. I used it up until about 10 years ago. shut the top and left it in the trailer. it was in nice shape. and no I dont want to sell it. I might bring it out and write a book. had another like it a RECORD got hock 80 buck. miss that one too. got one in a leather case that needs a return spring work and cleaned up. A ROYALITE. IAM not a collector just like things in small cases that work. these are all nice toys for a person on the move. weight maybe 8 lbs. beat the hell out of thous table models my 1957 royal is portable that I would not like to take around the world. nice talking nice posts OH do you think its getting hard to find fresh Ribbens. I live on the border with mexico they dont have anything down here but trouble.

  11. I thought I had an Olympia Traveller Deluxe, but when buying a new ribbon, it has been identified as an Olivetti Tropical! I live in Spain, so perhaps that is why! Any ideas as to what is going on? Thanks!

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