Hermes 2000

When someone says, it’s new and improved, my first instinct is to ditch the old and get the new. Suddenly what I have seems inferior. I hate this feeling! What is it about the urge to upgrade? The lure of new features, tweaks to make the user experience smoother, glitches resolved, a rounded corner, a catchier return, in all a better machine, right? Sometimes the march of progress brings a clearly superior product. But often the perceived need for new is just that.

If we resisted the tossing of the old and made do with what we had, where would the incentive be to keep the factories open? As Steinbeck warned us, the monster must be fed. If it does not grow, it dies. Something like that. OK, this is supposed to be a typewriter review, not Commie propaganda, and the product in question hails from Switzerland, the bastion of neutrality. The Hermes 2000.

First, I’d like to meet the marketing madman who came up with this numbering scheme. How’d they skip from 1 to 2000? If there were a Hermes 1000, that might make sense, but as far as I can tell, no such machine exists. The Hermes 2000 was introduced in the 1930s, so perhaps 2000 made it sound like a machine that was decades ahead of its time. And if you just go on the looks of a Hermes 3000, the revamped design suggests a leap of a 1,000 years. This reasoning makes more sense when you consider their ultra-portable was dubbed, The Rocket. Combine the far-out numbering with the crazy-cool color, and yeah, this is Futurama. It’s a machine DeLorean or Disney would use.

What seemed to launch it all was the 2000. While it was still boxy like many of its competitors, by the 1950s its trademark green keys stood out. And this is what makes a Hermes typewriter such a special breed. The keys feel unlike any other typewriter. They’re cupped, soft and the action is supple, quiet and assured. It just feels good to rest your fingers on the keys. Plus, the cool green soothes and draws you in. It’s refreshing like a mint sprig.

OK, it’s a great machine. But how does it compare to the new and improved 3000? Besides the obvious design leap from pretty good to far-out, the 2000 feels snappier and the carriage lighter. While I like the Hermes touch, the 3000 always felt like a heavy machine. The 2000 still has the soft touch, but lighter and quicker. What’s not as light in the 2000 is the carriage shift. While it’s not bad, I’m more of a basket shifted fan. The soundproofing in the 3000 is super-stealth, compared to the lesser padded 2000. If disturbing the neighbors is your concern, the 3000 is one of the quietest ones around. Perhaps due to the entire frame wrapped from top to bottom. It’s mute. The 2000 is still a bit loud. But nothing a solid felt pad can’t resolve.

Bottom line: if you’re after that elusive Hermes touch, but are not enchanted by the 3000 design and want a traditional look with some design flair, get the 2000. You’ll probably save some bucks, as well.

15 comments

  1. Hi–i’m brand new to the site and signing up for posts etc.–and i’m so glad! I’m enjoying Daniel’s writing and arty opinions–in addition to his, what seems like, bottomless knowledge on the machines–

    that said; at one point in this new post/review of the 2000, i feel like he’s blurring 3 seperate Hermes models, and was left a bit confused–no big deal; still immensly entertaining and information packed!

    i love this new world i’ve stumbled into and want to thank Daniel for his hard work–
    (i, at first, felt a bit ashamed of my current–non manual–Coronamatic from the mid 70′, until, that is, yesterday when i saw the photo of Capote’s last machine, which he wrote his final 3 books on–a Smith Corona 110 portable electric–had one of them at one time also–and felt immediately vindicated, and yes, a bit proud….if it was good enough for Truman–hey—and it’s amazing how ‘almost identical’ the 110 is to my Coronet Cartridge 12, right down to the pastel 2-tone blues (i hate to think of the machine as being from the 70s–it’s so 60s based; i simply think of it as a 60s classic)–but i will say; the cartridge is a winner–works like a charm, fantastically simple in and out, and keeps the nylon ribbon from drying out (bought 3 brand new in blister packs–yes, they’re still manufactured)
    LOVE Typewriter Review, and Daniel–thank you again!
    can’t wait for those future posts…
    Richard, Ithaca, NY

    • Hey amigo, welcome aboard! Thanks for the good words. Been a spell since I kicked out a review. I’ve always wanted to try a Hermes 2000, but they’re often hard to get! Electric, huh? Maybe I’ll need to take one for a spin. Never used one.

      • Thank you, Daniel–I happen to love the feel of the Smith Coronas from the mid-late 60s etc.–dense. heavy little machines with a very self-assured strike of the platen–however; i’ve never used a real machine like a Hermes, which now have me very intrigued (Swiss designed and manufactured–i’ve got to have one!)
        The electrics are fast, no doubt, and take very little effort–
        but then there’s a whole ‘nother world, and that’s the IBM Selectrics–I’ve had a few, and it’s a huge topic in and of itself (worth exploring online) and definately worth experiencing!–in short, i’ll just say that the Selectric is possibly the most amazing and advanved ‘machine’ ever invented and put into vast mass circulation–they are a true marvel which boggles the mind—i don’t feel that this is hyperpoly–and they sort of changed America–the workplace for sure…

    • sorry for my rushed reply with all the typos–especially “hyperbole”–one would think i wrote that post on a manual machine (or even electric)–
      regarding Mark’s post; here’s a question from a neophyte: what is “basket” shifted, as opposed to carriage?

      • Carriage shift means the entire carriage is lifted in order to type the shifted (uppercase) characters. The carriage is the big rubber roller plus the mechanism that holds it all together. The basket refers to the collection of typebars. So when you shift you’re just lifting them to type the uppers. Much lighter.

      • thank you for the explanation of ‘basket’ vs. ‘carriage’–of course, just as the names imply….i’ve only ever used the basket shift…
        also: your description of the 3000 in this new post (on the 2000) is so intriguing; i searched and found your review from 2013 of the Hermes 3000, which included that stunning photo–
        my only complaint of that review is that i wanted it to go on for another 5 pages!–it’s a gem–
        and yes; no question; the Hermes 3000 is the machine i want–i can already feel those soft minty keys under my fingertips…

  2. Hey Daniel, thanks for the excellent post. I love the little Hermes, may add it to my small collection one day. Though I haven’t given myself time to comment, I read your posts faithfully.
    Jorge Zamora

  3. I had a 2000 much like the one posted, and I liked it all right, but seldom used it. I recently got one from the previous generation, grey with round black keys, and it is amazing! Comparing them side by side marked subtle differences, but I got rid of the newer one and the older one is now in my top 5 (out of 170 or so at the moment).

  4. I believe my favorite machine of my little collection is the Hermes 2000. I was lucky to find a 1938 model that is all shiny black with the great Crossbow logo on it. It types like a dream, with only the pesky margin release sometimes skipping a space causing me to backspace to complete my word. I have a Rocket, I have a 3000 too, a very nice machine…but the 2000 is my go to machine.

  5. Robert Messenger swears by the 2000, claims the 3000 doesn’t even compare. What do you think about that, Daniel?

    Glad to see you’re posting again! But what happened to your Etsy shop?

    • The 3000 is a great machine! The cupped keys are comforting. The soft, quiet feel is an easy going experience. I’d give a nod to the 2000, but not by much.

      Etsy shop has been lean these days. I’ve got this awesome Erika up there with a QWERTY keyboard! If I were a collector, I’d keep her. But since I don’t use her, hope some other worthy scribe will whisk her away!

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