Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Typewriters in Paris I: The ones we sought out

This poster looks promising... or so you would think. Number of typewriters seen = 0.

The first typewriter we spotted at Vanves: a Cyrillic-keyboard Hermes Baby.

This was followed by an AZERTY Olympia SF; ordinary pica typeface.

Finally, a French machine in France: this Japy Reporter is of a rather recent '70s vintage, though, hence the plastic. The seller swore vehemently that it worked perfectly, and I nodded politely, not bothering to point out the twisted ribbon and the crooked ribbon cover.

We moved on to a street garage sale, which seemed more promising - and delivered rather nicely, too. A pretty, mint green, mid-'50s Hermes Baby, even with an extra ribbon. That dratted azerty...

Hermes Babys seemed popular that day - here, a '30s Featherweight.

That was about it for the interesting (and seemingly functional) manual typewriters. The rest were either electric, like this one...

... or so poorly kept there was no way on God's green earth they had typed a word in decades...

... or toys like this Petite Super International typewriter, but still presumably functional, unlike...

... this Japy ceramic typewriter ashtray, which, while it tied in nicely with the Reporter we spotted earlier, was definitely not about to be used for typecasting anytime soon. And even this had an azerty keyboard - remarkably consistent!


  1. Did you get the ashtray???? It's fabulous!!! :D

    (and would likely sell well on eBay, assuming you don't smoke or store paper clips)

  2. Thanks for the trek through Paris. Your traveling companion must be remarkably tolerant of the typewriter obsession! And I'd never have imagined there was a videgrenier.org listing site. I'm under a little pressure to acquire a Cyrillic typewriter as my son just thinks I invented the odd Russian phrase I know just to amuse him. The odd one crops up on UK eBay along with the very occasional Hebrew typer.

  3. I feel sorry for the Remington. The neglect is bad enough; the cigarette butts just add insult to injury.

    Odd keyboards aside, it must be nice to spot a Hermes here and there. The shopping tips are appreciated.

  4. Sacré bleu! That's my Underwood no. 5, the one I'm looking at right now on my shelf, that appears on that Parisian poster! Sorry to learn that it was used to mislead you.

  5. By the way, I believe that Hermes Baby has a Bulgarian keyboard.

  6. @Ted: No, sadly I did not get the ashtray even thought it seemed in great shape (the seller obviously had a collection going on, so I don't think he'd used any of them). I don't smoke and the paper clips idea didn't occur to me. Anyway, I have seen these pop up from time to time on eBay France.

    @Rob: J has learned to be tolerant, indeed. More than that, even - he pointed out some of these to me when I nearly passed by without seeing them. (After looking at so much stuff, my eyes just started to glaze over!) eBay UK is a good source for foreign keyboards at good prices; I once pointed out an Arabic Olympia SM-9 to a fellow who'd been looking for one and he won it for the opening bid of £9.99.

    @Dwayne: That poor Remington was on the sidewalk, far removed from all the other goods elevated on tables. I didn't see it till I just about tripped on it, and it made me sad :(

    @Richard: Your Underwood, is it? That is hilarious - I knew that picture looked familiar. I suppose eBay sellers aren't the only ones pinching your pictures, then :-) Thanks for the clarification about the Bulgarian keyboard; I would never have guessed!

  7. This collection of typewriters in Paris doesn't seem to differ much from the ones in Switzerland on ricardo... Even the ashtrays appear from time to time, a Hermes one too.

  8. What's the serial numbers for the Hermes? I would have bought the Remington, to give it a nice cleaning and restore it to shape.

  9. @maschinengeschrieben: You're right, but for me the fun part was tracking down typewriters for sale in Paris. We already know there are lots of them in Switzerland :) Anyway, it was a surprise to me to find so many Hermeses as well; I thought Japy and other French makers would be much better represented.

    @shordzi: Funny you should ask... :) Sorry; I didn't want the sellers to think I'd be interested, so I only lingered long enough to take one discreet shot. No serial numbers to share...

    The Remington is quite a challenge (although perhaps not as impossible as it seems; after all the parts are pretty much intact); I wouldn't even know where to start! Maybe with that big bucket of evapo-Rust that Richard keeps in his garage; but I don't have any of the stuff myself.


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