It was designed and built in Switzerland and I was delighted to find it. I wasn’t looking for anything special just meandering through my local bookstore when I discovered a whole host of old manual typewriters for sale on the floor and picked the finest of them all, the Hermes Baby. I qualify these typewriters as “manual” because technology had not entered the equation yet. It was late 1950s and there were no cords, no plugs, and your fingers did all the work.
It was a time when fingers needed dexterity, strength and your digits had to pound out words page after page often times without concern for spelling mistakes because you didn’t make them. There was no autocorrect, no liquid paper and no room for error. And if you were a newspaper man in the 1950s that’s exactly what you did on the Hermes Baby.
This old typewriter is what you would consider the Mac Book Air of it’s day, it’s tiny, portable and it’s simply a piece of art. The Hermes Baby was reproduced for over a decade from the mid 1950s to 1960s because it was so popular for a writer on the move. It folded up nicely in it’s little case that snaps into the base. And fits comfortably in a regular old backpack.
The big surprise came when I opened the carry-case and discovered in the back pocket all the original documentation and sales paraphernalia. It came with it’s original Guarantee, owners manual, typing chart, a business card from the clerk who sold it. It was as if I was going back in time when things were made with purpose and craftsmanship.
The font on the Hermes baby is quite unique compared with others of it’s vintage with rounded serifs. It’s important when looking at vintage typewriters for sale to inspect the letters as you type, you will be surprised to discover a whole other aspect of what makes vintage typewriters so appealing to own, their history of their fonts.
I’m not sure what I will do with the Hermes Baby, I just continue to stare longingly at it’s Swiss craftsmanship like a statue in my home. The thought of returning to a manual typewriter as a hobby though is thrilling. I’m so accustomed to the light touch of my Mac keyboard that I may need to get my fingers back in shape to tackle it and it might be time for a change. It takes effort and a purposefulness when typing on a machine like this otherwise the letters become faint and are hard to read.
I’ve had a couple of invitations to write letters back and forth with friends abroad and there is a certain quality about receiving a letter in the mail that is missing today. From the moment you finish the last sentence to yanking the page out of the machine, the envelope, the stamp, the stroll to the corner mailbox to send it. It’s all an act that is rewarding. Not to mention the excitement that builds in between, and the surprise of getting one in response.
Heck, I might just write a little note right now for someone and pretend it’s 1959 all over again.
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