Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Typeface Wars - Hermes edition

Hermes typewriters font styles

This is a document from approximately 1968, that we found with a pristine Hermes Media 3 that also came with the original brochure stamped with the name of the distributor in Geneva where it was originally purchased. I love typewriter ephemera, and papers like this have been conspicuously absent on most of our finds, so this made me very happy indeed. It shows the font styles available for Hermes machines of the 1958 iteration - this includes the curvy mint green Hermes 3000 we all know and love, as well as the Media 3 and green Baby featured on this site.

Font preference, I have found, is a very personal thing. Most of us cannot choose these days, of course, and all the Hermes machines I have taken in have been because they were available, with the typeface an afterthought. Many of them have been some variant on pica or elite, with the odd "Hermes special" extra-wide spacing thrown in. Script machines are particularly desirable on eBay US and I would love to find a script Hermes too, but no luck so far. (No, I am not at all bitter that here in Hermes-land, where I must have come across twenty of the suckers this summer alone, I have not yet found a single one in script). According to the chart below, script font was available for the Baby, Media 3, and 3000 portable machines only, while the bigger standard typewriters were given variations on pica, elite, and techno.

Hermes typewriters font options

While the first document will have given you a sample of all the font styles, here are the blog posts of a few type-casters who have blogged with some of the different typefaces on Hermes typewriters:

Script: In June 2008, Strikethru described her elation at receiving a script Hermes 3000.

Elite: In September 2008, Little Flower Petals wrote about her attachment to her elite Hermes 3000.

Pica: In May 2008, Olivander composed a free-association poem on a Hermes Rocket (pica?).

Director Elite: This has the spacing of elite, but with more elongated characters. I know Richard would explain it more elegantly!

I had a Hermes Media 3 with this typeface, but I always thought it was much too small. It took so long to fill a page! In June, I wrote about a motorcycle accident I witnessed.

Epoca: The young Line Writer composes his posts on a '70s epoca Hermes 3000.

Techno Pica: In June, I ranted about a Bern museum's glaring lack of typewriters on display using my techno pica Hermes Media 3.

I must be missing many others. Do let me know if you've typecasted on a Hermes typewriter and would like the link to be added to this list!


  1. Wow. Valuable documents!

    Those "A" typefaces are lovely. I didn't know that Hermes made proportional-spacing typewriters. Do you know more about those?

    And I didn't know that "techno" was the official name of that typeface, I thought we just called it that for fun ....

  2. Glad I could bring you something new, Richard! I'll keep an eye out for more of these, they are rather interesting.

    According to the chart, the "A" typefaces were made for an electric typewriter, specifically the "Hermes Electric Varia". I have not come across this one, but I have admittedly not been looking. The person who I am sure would know would be Jacques Perrier, who has a typewriter museum in Lausanne (and wears a Hermes-branded coat while showing visitors around!). We visited in June and I took a photo ( which shows an array of Hermes Electrics on the second shelf... perhaps one was the Varia, but we did not really go into it.

    Perrier told us that the only mechanical machine with proportional-spacing was the Olivetti Graphika, which I'm sure you must have come across.

  3. I'd give a lot for a Graphika, but they are very rare. According to an article in a recent Historische Bürowelt, they did not sell well because the proportional-spacing mechanism required too much force and made correction difficult.

    Back in the 19th century there were a few other mechanical proportional typewriters, such as the Automatic and the Maskelyne. Both of those are almost impossible to find today, of course.

    The IBM Executive was another modern electric proportional typewriter.

  4. Just found this page after googling "Hermes Typefaces." Should have just checked here first!

    In other Hermes news my mother saw that old Swiss ad from oz.Typewriter a few weeks ago with the red Hermes Baby, and she's on a quest now. If I tell her that it was available with script type I don't know what she'd do.

  5. Strokeandbore - Don't show her this listing from Etsy:

    That inspired a bout of intense typewriter envy that still simmers - sure, now I have a script Hermes Baby, but it's white. Which is a great color, but no orange. I'm not complaining... not too much... :-)

  6. As often as I visit and read your blog; how did I miss this post????!!!
    Of course, I have typed on a Hermes.

  7. Very useful. Was hoping there was such a thing as an Epoca Baby but I guess not!


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