|Two varieties of the much-ballyhooed HERMES portables exist; first are the small, flat travelling machines, variously known as the Hermes Baby, Hermes Baby Featherweight, Hermes Featherweight, and Hermes Rocket. My early Hermes Baby is seen at left. This line was added in 1935, to supplement the Hermes brand standard and desk-model portables being manufactured by Paillard, S.A. of Yverdon, Switzerland. This small line was truly revolutionary, and spawned a whole host of imitators -- and, in effect, predicted what the truly modern portable typewriter would finally be.|
|Jim Dax has sent us this shot of his Baby Featherweight, which is lighter than the original model, and has no ribbon spool covers.|
|This is the later "square" design of the Hermes 3000. Note that the control layout remains the same. This body would later be built not only in Switzerland, but also in France after Paillard bought out Japy in 1971, and later still in Hungary.|
|One rather odd feature of these machines is the style of the margin set devices. Each has a spring-loaded pair of small levers, that must be squeezed together in order to allow the margin sets to be moved. This design absolutely cannot be set "loose" so that it will move, or not engage in the margin set rack.|
|On the right, we see one unique feature of this line, which is the style of the carriage rail or support, and its bearings. The carriage is actually suspended from a shaft, whose end you can see here, which runs across the frame. Ball bearings ensure very easy carriage movement in a patented design used on both portable and standard machines. These also have both a set of pre-set tab stops that can be brought in or out, and separate user-adjustable keyset tab stops.|
|As I said earlier, the P2 is hard to find and the 1620 not well made; neither is easy to find in the US. Of course, at the time, Facit was trying to move away from typewriters and into calculating machines, which seriously hurt the company's cash flow, reputation and distribution network. Electrolux took over and tried to reverse the damage, but by the time it did, the manual portable market here was saturated with Japanese made machines, as well as a number of others, so that Facit would not re-enter seriously.|
|The other "line" was a larger, heavier style of portable typewriter. Two distinct varieties of this design were made.
The HERMES 2000 (at left) was introduced right after the end of the Second World War, and was a quite conventional, carriage-shifted machine. Originally these were a dark color but later they became all-green as seen here. These machines are solid and workable, but for today's collector they're a second choice as far as the Hermes machines are concerned. The Hermes 3000, introduced in 1958, is the first choice.
|At right, the first style of HERMES 3000. This machine was totally redesigned, inside and out. It was segment shifted, and had a very smooth action. New picto-graph control buttons were employed, labeled with emblems for functions (backspace, margin release, tab set and clear) which were both above the keyboard and shaped differently. Further, the carriage controls were totally redesigned, and the paper bail incorporated a feature wherein the margin stop positions (using Royal-style "Magic Margins") could be ascertained by a red line, visible inside the paper bail and which moved to correspond to margin stop location.|
|At right we see a later, light blue-gray Hermes 3000 with white keytops. This machine was built in France, at the former JAPY plant which Paillard converted to the production of this design after terminating the old indigenous JAPY designs. The function keys have proper legends - that is to say, the functions are spelled out and the confusing pictographs are gone. These French-made machines have been criticized in some quarters as inferior, and while there might have been a tiny drop in quality this is still a fine typewriter.|
|FACIT, located in Sweden (and its predecessor HALDA) produced a number of portable typewriters over the years, all of which were essentially "upright" -- that is to say, the company produced no flat machines. These are fairly well covered on the European Typewriter Site, and we'll leave it to that site to cover the details of history since these machines are fairly difficult to find in the USA.
At left, the FACIT P2. This machine was first introduced in 1964, and was an improvement on the P1 which had appeared in 1958. The P1 had been the first portable to incorporate the advanced tube-bearing carriage support developed several years prior for the standard machines.
|At right, the tubular carriage support, which incorporates several races of ball bearings.|
|Rear view, and the S-Sweden emblem.|
|At left, an internal view. Note the segment for the intermediate links just below the type bar rest, and note the slotted segment used to mount the end of the three-quarter length key levers. On the right, we see the Facit P2 and note the perforated speakerboard that covers the bottom, with an opening to allow motion of the escapement trip.|
|This Facit P2 was only very slightly used, and provided an impressive typing experience. It was so good in fact that we compared it against the Smith-Corona Silent Super, the Hermes 3000 and a few others. The P2 has a number of advanced design features (one-piece, die-cast aluminum body casting) but also has almost no welds or solders - everything is fastener-connected. This is an excellent typewriter, probably very expensive to construct and one that would be very prone to misalignment or misadjustment were any inexperienced disassembly attempted due to the number of parts and adjustments. That notwithstanding, we really like it.|
|The following Facit 1620, which appeared in 1969 is not as good; it's often found broken in the field, and isn't as well made - incorporating less expensive parts and materials.|
|by WILL DAVIS|