Nick Charles, the 1956 Empire Aristocrat

Nick Charles, the 1956 Empire Aristocrat

"Nick Charles", the 1956 Empire Aristocrat

Picked up on Ebay for $19.60 plus shipping, “Nick Charles” was a bargain next to what Hermes Rockets are going for, and it’s pretty much the same machine. Produced by British Typewriters, Ltd. in Bromwich, England, the Aristocrat was made under a license from Hermes and seems to differ from the Rocket/Baby only in color: Hermes are a light mint green, and Aristocrats are a dark olive green that makes it look somewhat milspec-ish. It’s certainly a more manly color than the Hermes models.

Currently, the Aristocrat is one of my two favorite super-compact typewriters for Nanowrimo ’10. When I’m in the mood for the short-throw Hermes action, I pick Nick. If I feel like long-throw Smith Corona action, I go with the Skyriter (Boswell), and it’s been about 50/50 so far. I like them both for different reasons.

Only one complaint about the Aristocrat, and I’m sure it’s common to all Hermes Rockets/Babys that have the gull-wing ribbon covers. When you’re pounding away in the heat of a good paragraph, the ribbon covers will jostle loose and rattle around. It’s a minor annoyance, and oddly it becomes a pondering ritual. When I want to think about a line I’m about to type, I busy my fingers with re-snapping the ribbon covers and it feels calming and seems to help during the mind-composing state.

Type sample from 1956 Empire Aristocrat

Type sample from 1956 Empire Aristocrat

Empire Aristocrat with steel lid fits snugly in the soft case that comes with Skyriters

Well, despite Nick’s optimistic prediction, I’ve been trending about 50/50 in which of the toteables I use for Nano. Usually, I bring Nick along on write-ins because he’s got lots of paper storage and is better protected against travel damage because he’s double-cased. At home, though, I find myself gravitating to Boswell for quickly dashing off a page or two.

Updated: October 25, 2018 — 11:08 pm


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  1. Great machine. I bought one for a friend’s birthday, having lost his Remington Mod-5 years earlier. |Similar format to the Antares Parva I have.

  2. Mighty Reverend, may I use the photo of your excellent “Nick Charles” on my Hermes Baby page (

  3. yeah nice piece of kit,I have exactly the same model Empire Aristocrat although I think mine is a late 40’s model as it has the crouched lion logo too. As you same its the same thing as a Hermes Rocket but oddly without the same demand. So far the platen appears to be holding up and its a generally reliable machine to type on with just the occasional quirk. Still very handy for doing envelopes and the occasional short letter. I tend to use a slightly better weighted paper in A5.

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