Here’s ten typewriters that will be sure to please.
But before you get into them, I encourage you to read what has been posted on One Typed Page. It’s a site I created where you can submit a typed page. Each day we get pages from around the world. And I post them for everyone to read. Perhaps a page will help during these difficult times. If you have a typewriter, consider sending a page! Thanks for visiting.
The list is numbered, but don’t let the numbering sway you. Any of these will do the job. Most are from the 1950s or later. They’re not collectible. They’re not antiques. They’re for working writers.
You should be able to nab one for under $200 that probably just needs a new ribbon. They’re all portables, because they’re easier to ship and are more readily available. A quick search on eBay or Etsy will yield several results. Most are plentiful, while some may exist in fewer quantities. But wait a week or two and you’ll likely find a good one.
Have I overlooked any that should be on the list?
Nominate your worthy ones in the comments section!
Remember: this is the typewriter you’d recommend to your writer friend as their first typewriter. They’re relying on you to come through!
That’s why this list may appear conservative. I usually recommend a regular portable, not the ultra-portable and not a standard desktop.
Get started on a portable, then once you’re in the habit, decide if a different size or style might better suit your needs.
10. Royal Quiet Deluxe 1950s.
Post-war boomer style and function at its peak. The key action is light. It’s basket shifted. Plus it comes in a variety of colors! If you can’t match the right palate, the standard machine will fit with any style. The only issue I’ve found with these machines is the button that pops the lid can come pop open if you’re typing too hard. Just slap a little duct tape on it and you’re good to go! You’re a writer, improvise! This is a fun typewriter!
9. Hermes Rocket
My ultra-portable exception! Hey, it’s made in Switzerland! These babies were popular with the journalist set for a reason. Get a 1960s vintage or later. It’s only weakness: the stubby carriage return lever is not that great. The last version of the Rocket finally had a longer lever. Nice! Every Rocket I’ve owned had a rock hard platen. Maybe they came that way! If you plan on setting on your desk, unscrew the bottom plate and scrape off the hardened rubber feet and super glue some new ones on. I get the clear rubber kind from Ace Hardware (Part No. 5182381). Otherwise, it’d also work great on your lap reclining in a barcalounger.
8. Underwood Champion
Muscular and solid. When you punch a key it feels like you’re getting in the ring. Rock ‘em sock ‘em! You can go all twelve rounds with the Champ. The gloss black one is to die for. But hard to find and can get pricey! But the regular model is just as good. The keys tops are big for you big handed writers. Even if you have delicate digits, this handsome guy is not hard to wrangle. It’s only weakness: the heavier carriage shift.
7. Olympia SM 3&4
The key action is perfection. Each is spring loaded with solid Bakelite tops. These are writing machines. The lines and colors inspire. The chrome sparkles. The carriage glide is steel on glass. Quiet. Smooth. On track. An engineering marvel. That’s the great, what’s the dirt? Rock hard platens. If you get one on the cheap, you’ll probably be able to bounce a penny off the platen. I’ve had many and they’ve all had this issue, and when you type it makes an annoying smacking sound. It also has the heavy carriage shift. But the key action and carriage glide may outweigh any heaviness to you.
6. Olympia SM7
By the 1960s, Olympia ditched style in favor of a more utilitarian machine. The keys are light and the carriage glide is smooth and easy. You can usually find these for under a $100. Plus, sometimes you can find one with a blue front panel. Cool! It nudges the SM3 because the platen will most likely be in better condition. However, it still has the carriage shift. But it feels lighter than the SM3. When searching for these, sellers often don’t know about the SM7 and lump them with the SM9s, or don’t label it all. Do a search for Olympia typewriter and you’ll get everything. The front panel on the SM7 is what gives it away.
5. Smith-Corona Sterling (pre-1960s) / Silent / Super Silent
An American speedster. The floating shift is what sets this machine apart. Where Olympia over-engineered, Smith-Corona went for simplicity. They don’t feel as tight, but they can fly! It’s a smaller portable and feels very personal. My only complaint is the ratcheting sound when you return the carriage. The 1950s colors are not the most inspiring! The platens are usually rocks, but somehow this doesn’t affect the sound or the imprint. I’m lumping the 1950s with the 1940s models, because the internals feel the same, just the 1940s style is way cooler! Plus, those glass top keys! The 1950s models are plentiful, but there’s also plenty of junky ones. They must’ve made these by the millions. You’re buying a solid typewriter lineage. A good one will not disappoint.
4. Olivetti Studio 44
An under-appreciated performer. You can usually snag a good one on the cheap. They’re a bit big for a portable, but that’s a good thing. It feels solid. It’s heavy. It has a big paddle on the carriage return lever. The carriage return is quiet and smooth. I’ve always found them to have good, soft platens. The typing is muted. The curves and color speak to the artist. It’s called the Studio for a reason. What’s not to like? The keys feel a bit stiff. Just slightly. Not a biggie. Really.
3. Hermes 3000
Fleet footed for sure. The keys feel soft, yet strike confidently. They’re cupped just right to fit the tips of your fingers. The insulated body mutes the sound. Many typewriters have an exposed undercarriage, not so on the Hermes. The bottom is covered, helping keep out dust and other nasties. The carriage glide is butter. Not super quick, but oh, so smooth. This is a class act. It has a matching snap-on shell to keep her covered, yet maintain her good looks. I’ve always found them with good, rubbery platens. However, the feet have usually hardened. I’d say scrape them off, but unfortunately, they’re oblong shaped and hard to find something that would fit in their place. Get a typewriter pad and your problem is solved! Otherwise, this typewriter will slip on your desk.
2. Olivetti Lettera 32
Slim. Quick. Light. It’s an Italian Ferrari, but without the iconic red. Who can write on a red typewriter? (There is the Olivetti Valentine, but that’s another story!) Olivetti picked the right color for the Lettera. The Lettera 32 occupies a unique position between portable and ultra-portable. It’s the laptop of typewriters. Plus, it has the easy going basket shift. The return lever is small and the space bar thin, but not so much that it affects usability, unless you’re in the brute squad. The key tops are flat, but have a slight indentation so you feel grounded on the keyboard. The platens are usually in great shape, pliant and soft. You could go with the Lettera 22 if it’s in great shape. They feel similar. But the 32 is newer. Newer is better. Here’s what Cormac McCarthy had to say of his Lettera 32:
It has never been serviced or cleaned other than blowing out the dust with a service station hose. I have typed on this typewriter every book I have written including three not published. Including all drafts and correspondence, I would put this at about 5 million words over a period of 50 years.
1. Olympia SM 9
The pinnacle of manual typewriter technology. Solid. Dependable. You can’t go wrong with one of these. Olympia finally went with the basket shift. Light and easy. The platens are usually in great condition. The carriage glide is smooth and quiet. The keys are light and responsive. There’s nothing wrong with an SM9. Nothing. It’s perfect. It’s plain vanilla, but hey, this is a writing machine and you’re a writer. It’s a job. The SM9 is up to the task.
I know, I know, Olympia, Hermes and Olivetti dominate the top 10! They were popular in the day and they remain that way.
Have another to nominate? Toss it in the comments and write a review!
What would any fellow writers recommend, I’d like an easy to use, nice looking one….
An ibm selectric if you can get one for a decent price reconditioned I’ve got one that I love I love it’s hum when I turn it on. Br Didacus tor francican
I prefer to do battle with the ultra-portable Olympia Traveller De Luxe. It is the opposite of everything smooth (for that you’d want a Hermes 3000), it bangs and clatters as its carriage moves up and down for capitals.
The only louder typewriter I have is a Smith-Corona Galaxie 12. With either of these, everyone will know you’re typing.
The Traveller is not for producing final copy, it’s for straight from brain to words on paper. And in a second you can scoop it up (the top clicks on to make a case, just like the pricier Hermes 3000). At around 11 pounds, it’s easily moved.
Oh, you’d asked for easy to use? Sorry: Hermes 3000!
I would agree with the ones on this list and add The Rheinmetall (or later SuperMetall) and my personal favorite now (and weirdly available) 1949 Royal Glass Top QDL (Quiet DeLuxe)
Just realized that the Royal is listed, but from the 50’s – the 40’s one is great, too, I even love the later Futura, although much more plastic there. Also – the Olympia Traveller (for a super-portable) – I have the one with the goofy color scheme – but it works like a charm.
Love the list. Also agree with Ricky on the Rheinmetall. Great machines. My go to typewriters have been Olivetti 22, Olympia SM7, Rheinmetall, and an Erika 5 (not very easy to find but you can type like you are angry).
I agree with the list. I have one of each. For a hard platen I use two backup sheets for the one I am typing on; works good. I would add the Sears Tower typewriter, which was really made by Smith Corona with little differences in style. Also it is hard to beat a Remington, solid, reliable, simple; they have a distinctive action that I like.
What happened to the post about uploading typed material to word?
I’m torn between an Olivetti Lettera 32 and a Hermès 3000. Which would you choose? Thank you!
I will say this – unless it is local, be SUPER careful about purchasing Hermes. They are delicate beasts. I have bought three online and had to return two (cracked this and that) and the third needed repairs but was salvageable.
That being said, these two are COMPLETELY different typewriters in almost all respects and other than the fragility, I love them both. If I were to buy one Olivetti, though, I would probably go for the Studio 44, which is a delight, and sturdier, if you are looking for a lot of saddle time (is it called that?) with a typewriter. I also have the Studio 42, which I like very much.
The first distinction I would draw (and this is my personal taste, others might disagree) is the feel of the key stroke. The Hermes feels molded and custom fitted to the finger and deep, whereas the Olivetti has a less pronounced scallop but also, quite nice. Some people don’t like the very thin space bar on the Olivetti – you might consider that.
Can’t go wrong with either. Unless, as I mentioned, one arrives broken!
MMmmm…I like the Olivetti Studio 44’s..they “print” well..nice and even….the key action is ok.(the carriage rolls on a large steel bar.)I own lots of Olympias..but the SM3 is overrated..and the shift is heavy. The sm 9 is a good machine but so ugly and lacking any soul..it should be in a dentists office. Hermes 3000…well…yes they are well made but again I find them weird and soulless…the key action is just OK…..The later Royal QDL’s work ok but the fit and finish is junky. (I do like the 30’s and 40’s ones..and they type fine.).. I agree about Rheinmetalls..excellent machines(and some US keyboards are around) and Erikas-absolutely! The 10,11,12’s are superb typers. ( 9’s also…crisp and delightful. but are rare in english keyboards. )The 5’s and M’s are superb..but again harder to find with english keyboards…No Olympia SM-3 will ever type as sweetly as an Erika M. or 5 or 9-12’s.(the shift is reasonably light too). Some later Erikas and Rheinmetalls were imported here under the brand name Aztec..500’s and 600’s…excellent typers The Smith Coronas are superb typers..40’s look nicer if you get one…50’s work great (and the Towers also) ..I’d prefer one for lot’s of writing to an SM-3. Remington made some excellent 50’s portables ..extremely well made..w nice basket shift..true writers machines. The earlier Hermes babies and Rockets..steer clear…they are small..but not great typers. BTW if you want a good medium small portable Consul made some very nice ones(Czech-Zbrojovka works..no they are not like a larger portable ..but work fine ..and the cupped keys are tilted slightly back..cool. Vell that’s my 3 centavos…but do try an Erika…the design of the key linkage is different from all the others…and crisp and snappy… Enjoy writing that novel!
Also add on the Torpedo 18 or 20 – and for even more old timey, the Smith Corona Clipper & The Erika 5.
I’m surprised Remington Quiet-riters didn’t make the cut.
Inexpensive, solid, reliable, great feel.
And the platens are usually soft.
Quite right on the Quiet-riter! Perhaps I’m biased towards sleeker designs. But in terms of function, my review of this wonderful machine is glowing!
hello! I’ve really been enjoying your reviews as I’ve been searching for my first typewriter. i jave found a beautiful and inexpensive Olivetti 44…alternately, there is a similar nice looking Olivetti Lettura 31…i would live to hear your thoughts on what the 31 is like. otherwise I’m confident i will love the 44! thanks!
I have a frowny face Voss ST-24 that I consider my finest typewriter. There isn’t one thing I’d change about it including the double Gothic font. It has a crisp and snappy action, types effortlessly, and looks utterly amazing in cream and cerulean blue with cream keys and plenty of chrome. Mine has a QWERTY keyboard with $ and @ which I find essential.
I also have an Erika 10, two Olympia SM9 (pica and Congress elite) and a Remington QuietRiter. I use the two Olympia’s as my daily machines but when I feel inspired I always turn to the Voss!
Great list. I have three of these machines: an SM3, SM9 and a Lettera 22. I got lucky on the Olympia’s, as they were my grandfather’s. Free is nice. I bought the 22 for $45 and servicing was an extra $80. All are nice machines, but my fave is the SM9 for the reasons noted. Mine is super solid, barely used and clean. I also just picked up a Remington-Rand Quiet-Riter for $5 at an estate sale, in very good, serviceable condition. Solid machine and should be on your list. The Quiet-Riters are plentiful and well made. That said, the SM9 is what dits on my typing table…
Quick question. My father’s 60th birthday is coming up and i’m looking to purchase him a vintage typewriter from the year 1959. He is an author and an avid writer. Which is the best one you could recommend? It will not be used for actual writing just a decorative piece for his writing room.
Thanks in advance for anyone’s assistance.
Well, you could get him the number one pick, and my favorite, the Olympia SM9, but mine is from 1969, not 1959. My Olympia SM3 is from 1957, the year I was born, but it has a carriage shift, which is harder to use than basket shift.
One machine that’s overlooked for 1959 is the Royal Futura 800. Nice machines that have everything a writer could want. President Eisenhower has one.
One of the Olivetti Studio machines would be good, like a Studio 44. Go to typewriter database “google search” and look at Olivetti, Remington, Olympia and other machines for 1959. Or do a search for that model year.
Inspired by the documentary “The Typewriter in the 21st Century” and later the movie “California Typewriter” I searched for the best manual typewriters and came across this! What a great list of Top 10, thank you. I relied on this list of top 10 and the actor Tom Hanks in making my selections (Tom should you read this, thank you).
In less than one month’s time I have bought my first typewriter and then bought four more! In the order of purchase: a 1948 Royal Quiet DeLuxe (“QDL”), 1962 Smith-Corona Skyriter, 1964 Olympia SM7, 1947 Smith-Corona Silent and most recently an early 1960s Underwood-Olivetti Lettera 22. I gave my daughter the blue made in England Skyriter as soon as I cleaned it up (hoping to inspire her to write) so I can’t review it fairly relative to the 4 machines I have presently. I recall the touch of the Skyriter was on the heavy side and the type font nice, but the printed letters wobbled a bit. It was a carriage shift, but that was a non-issue for me.
The 1948 Royal QDL takes top honors. I just love the ergonomics of that typewriter. I make fewer mistakes with it for some reason (must have to do with the key spacing and shape). Being an earlier machine than the one mentioned on the top 10 list, the lid is different (no button, it snaps down firmly) such that there are no issues of it popping up (no tape required); I also prefer the styling of it to the ’50s Royal QDLs (my 1948 is true to the no nonsense, no frills, functional design of Henry Dreyfuss) and the type font is clear and crisp and I think very attractive/classy. The paper loads easily and true to its name, it is the quietest. The carriage return arm falls readily to hand without a second thought, although not quite as nicely as does the Smith-Corona Silent’s.
A close second is the Lettera 22; the machine is lovely to look at, and it types very well, I like the font as much as the Royal QDL’s but the keys require a bit more pressure and the touch is somewhat spongy when compared to the Royal QDL and Smith-Corona Silent. The carriage return arm is stylish and smallish and not particularly user friendly compared to the others…but one gets used to it. I noticed several machines for sale on eBay with this arm broken off (and nearly bought one, but noticed it just in time).
The 1947 Smith-Corona Silent is a beast- a lot of fun to type with because the action is snappy and direct, it absolutely slams the letters into (not just on) the page and I could see how this could easily be my favorite. The carriage return arm has a well placed finger hook and falls into my hand almost magically. Perhaps due to the force of the key strike it appears to be typing in bold all the time (compared to the other typewriters)- such that the letters are not as fine/crisp. The hard platen makes it the loudest of the typewriters and even with two sheets of paper I need to use the paper release to get paper into the typewriter- the platen is too smooth. Once the paper in and locked down, however, it works just fine and I really do enjoy typing with it; just not as much as the Royal QDL or the Olivetti Lettera 22.
The Olympia SM7 is a great typewriter, very well made, the most modern key assortment and it is incredibly precise. It is the least prone to scoot thanks to its weight and the large rubber feet. My example has the script font, so it is hard to compare with the other machines. It is an attractive font, but not quite as crisp as the Royal QDL and Olivetti Lettera 22. For some reason, however, I don’t care for the key touch or the key spacing of the Olympia SM7 as much as the other typewriters and that’s why this typewriter lags behind them in my estimation. The touch of the Olympia SM7 is the polar opposite of the Smith-Corona Silent the Olympia SM7’s feel is less mechanical, less direct. The Olympia SM7’s touch is almost pneumatic. The Olympia SM7 has the carriage shift, but that is an non-issue for me.
You’ve stocked a great stable of thoroughbreds! Now it’s time to hit the trail and start your journey. Enjoy the ride.
I just purchased an Olympia SM9 in very good condition (a steal with case at $50), based on your recommendation. As a novelist, journalist, college writing professor and all around lover of the written word, I can’t wait to pound away on this beauty. Thanks for this list and your other posts. Great stuff.
Well done! Happy to have provided the nudge. That’s why I love the SM9, lots of ’em, and at prices that won’t bust the piggy bank and cause undue strain on family relations. Anything under a hundred can usually fly under the radar. The real steal is the quality. Others might offer a slicker package, but the SM9 won’t let you down.
Desktops? Any that stand out?
This post covers some of this:
Though not mentioned here, my advice is to look local for the standard machines. Shipping these larger machines requires extra care in packing. That’s probably the biggest reason I haven’t reviewed. Lack of local supply.
Also, this post discusses the plight of the standards:
Located a standard at a antique store, it cleaned up well, and after a going over for service and function at Cambridge Typewriter,( see article on his site), a photo shows him in a sea of standard machines, and photo bombing the shot off his left elbow, sits “my” tan Underwood Golden touch! It is a SX-150 model with some sort of key feel thing going on where it “feels” buttery. I have used this heavyweight tabletop model for all of two years straight without a hickup, and it is still a fine machine. Not exactly quiet, but I just replaced the rock hard platen with J.J. Short . This had a noticeable effect on the decibel level. I took a $20-purchase and for a ribbon,clean and adjust, and a new platen, I am very pleased and journal about my cancer battle everyday, as well as my lifes other interests, and my growing collection of “rescue” projects.
Thanks for the great review! I’ve used this – and the comments – to put together a small collection which includes an SM-9 and an Erika M. I love them both, though, honestly, the fact the Erika was made in Nazi Germany creeps me out. Question: where do you get your ribbons for the SM-9? The one I purchased on Amazon is stingy with the ink, leaving an unsatisfying faint type.
I’ve had good luck with these.
I purchased the Olivetti letter 32 for my 12 year old daughter . The arrangement of letters are quite different from the way the current keyboards are set up. We were hoping she would learn to type on a type writer rather than on electric computer. Do you know of any non electric type writers which could be used to learn to type with a basic typing program and that match today’s keyboard arrangement?
I just found a vintage Noiseless 77 type writer nearby for sale. Are you familiar with this type of typewriter? Any thoughts and reviews about this typewrite would be greatly appreciated.
If you’re looking for a daily typewriter, not a big fan of this vintage unless it has been restored. Anything before the mid-1940s can be troublesome if it hasn’t been cared for. But if you can bring it up to snuff, new platen, cleaned and adjusted, looks like a fine typewriter!
Hi! I tried to comment earlier but did it wrong. Do you have any information on the Olivetti Lettera 31? Most reviews talk about the 32. I am trying to pick between a beautiful white 31 and a beautiful blue Olivetti 44 for my first typewriter. Both look in great condition and will be sent by mail… I could technically afford to get both– but space is not on my side so i must choose. thanks for your helpful reviews.
The Lettera 31 is small, snappy and has the same guts as the 32 — a proven winner. I really love this size for a typewriter. And these Letteras are minimalist perfection. It feels like less stuff between you and the page. But, I also love the Studio 44! It’s a big typewriter. Has a more solid feel than a Lettera. If you’re like me and you grew up on the light touch of a laptop, I’d go with the Lettera 31. Then get a new cotton ribbon from this guy — I just did and it’s fabulous.
Any thoughts on a Smith-Corona Corsair Deluxe? I’m looking for my first writer’s typewriter.
While I’ve not used this model, other 1960s Smith-Coronas have not always felt that solid. You might be able to get one on the cheap, but it may also just feel cheap. Which might put you off to writing with a typewriter. If you found one at a thrift store for under $50, then I might give it a go, just to see what this typewriter stuff is all about. Otherwise, those top 2 on the top 10 list are tops for first timers. Olympia SM9s can usually be found inexpensively, yet they really are tops. But if the style is not your thing, look at the Olivettis. Or, as one reader just posted to me, the Underwood 315, which is a 1970s model of the Lettera 32, might also be another great choice. Whatever you choose, I’m excited for you to get on a typewriter!
I agree with Daniel. And were I to get a Smith Corona (again!) I would probably go for the Silent or Silent Super, possibly the Clipper, which is so beautiful with its glass keys and sleek black finish (although slightly less type-friendly, but still, friendly enough.) I have a bunch of typewriters now – and if I had to narrow it down (which would pang me) I probably would go with the Silent, the Olympia SM7 or SM9, Olivetti Studio 42 or 44, many of the Triumphs (like the Perfekt or Gabriele 1), or Royal Quiet Deluxe (the most fallible, but one of the most invitingly writeables.) I know that doesn’t narrow it down TOO much – but if I had to narrow it down to one, would probably go with the Olympia SM7 – not as sexy as some (the Rheinmetall scores big this way, and is also great) but I notice I type for the longest time on it (it took me a while to realize this.)
Thanks! I decided not to go with the Smith-Corona. I’m looking into a Studio 44 which I think will be a good fit for me. It’s in excellent shape, about $50, from a reputable seller. If that falls through, I have my eyes on a local Olympia SG3 (1967) for under $50. It looks quite hefty, but I think it’s close to the SM9 (?) and it’s in apparently good working order. It would definitely be nice to get something more classic looking, but as a writer, my top goal is really durability and performance. I’m hoping for the Studio 44. Thanks for the feedback!
YES – that SG3 one is big! But incredibly great if you can house it somewhere – probably best as a second typewriter but an experience like no other – it’s like typing on a typer for giants! I have both Studio 44 & SG3 and love both (even have 2 Studio 44s because I couldn’t resist one that typed in telegraph-like all-caps.) Fun Fact: the SG3 is the typewriter that you see in the beginning of the movie PSYCHO.
I brought home my Olympia SG3 this morning! I call him Hans. I’m already in love. 😀 I spent all day cleaning him up, dusting the heck out of him and doing a little scrub work. He still needs some TLC but is fully functioning and runs like a workhorse. I’m telling you, this thing is an experience! I can’t wait to sit down and do some writing. Thanks for talking me into the endeavour with this great article of yours.
One of the things I love best about the SG3 is the paper release (I think of it as the ‘ejector seat’) on the right hand side. I suppose it’s made for times when you have a whoppin’ long piece of paper in there. Also – you can adjust the space between the letters – look into that a bit – it’s kind of fun. And again – the typewriter from Psycho!
You found Hans just in time to get it all out on paper. I don’t know about Hans or whether you’ve had much of a conversation yet, but I do know muses can be shy creatures. So shy, you might wonder if he’s in there at all. It’s a bit loud and messy, but the only way to coax him out are regular bouts on the typewriter. Don’t be discouraged if he’s not responding to your calls. Keep at it. Muses are fiercely loyal, but they need to know you’re committed to the cause. Once you’ve won him over, you’ve got a friend for life! Enjoy.
Wondering if there is any difference between the SM9 with dark keys and dark molded case and the one with light/white keys and the light colored tweed case (other than cosmetics)?
Yeah the light keys and light colored case are overall a little higher quality with some nicer finishing touches, and more stable typing and carriage return mechanism. Light colored case is nicer as well.
I expect to receive in the next few days a reconditioned Olympia SM 9, black keyboard and black case, from one of the top sellers / reconditioners of antique and vintage typewriters and he steered me to a black keyboard / case version. It may be due to the particular black keyboard SM 9 he’s sending to me is in such great condition. I’ve purchased from him before and I value and trust his advice. Are the black keyboard SM 9s a little newer than the white keyboard model?
Have the Hermes Rocket – great portable anywhere machine and also the Olivetti Studio, but rather use my Underwood Noiseless Portable. It’s old, but it’s reliable and smooth and a time machine. Orson Welles used it. Maybe I just have to tune up the Studio a bit. Thanks for the post.
I have an Olivetti Studio 45 purchased new in 1972 (it was a gift to me) and throughout college and grad school, I put a lot of “miles” on it. It doesn’t get much use now but it’s always ready to go and is an excellent typewriter. i never see anything about the Studio 45 model. I have never compared the 45 to the 44 — have to believe the guts of both models are very similar. I’ve replaced the internal sound-proofing foam rubber and it still works like new. Very durable machine.
Your supposed to be a “writer” yet you used a common cliche phrase in your concluding paragraph that I, a fellow practitioner of the art, absolutely HATE!!! “….back in the day…”.
To me? This is one of the STUPIDEST expressions ever to have infiltrated our great English language and personally I make an effort to totally avoid it like “the plague”! What does it mean anyway? Since we all originate on different “days” how can it possibly be applied universally to each of us?
It’s TRULY silly and if I was given the power to do so I’d BAISH it from our lexicon forever!
Wow! You clearly have strong feelings about this. I would be so bold as to say there are stupider expressions than ‘back in the day’ – let’s start with ‘foodie’ or ‘vacay’. Not only that, I think ‘back in the day’ is kind of cute, and I have no problem with it, regardless of its lack of specificity – although frankly I am a ‘In the days of yesteryear’ sort of fellow. Since you are a writer and I am not, please tell me what the meaning of the word ‘baish’ is – I don’t know it, I like it, I am wondering if it is Gaelic.
NOT CURRENT. Duh? Works for the rest of us.
Prozac works, “try bygone era” fan that smoke between your ears. That’s for all the little people on parade.
‘You’re supposed to be a writer.’ Not ‘Your supposed to.’ Before we bash anyone’s literary choices, let’s all focus on our own words, at least to the point of being able to say what we meant to say. That’s what writing is after all.
I would include the Olympia SG 1. I worked as a service technician, and later, service manager at an Olympia dealership. I have probably serviced, and used every possible typewriter around including some very old early models I serviced as collectables. The SG 1 is my personal favorite. A beautiful machine; built well in the German tradition. Superb craftsmanship, the best materials, and is a dream to type on. Expensive when new, but you got your money’s worth. I know a number of professional writers who would not part with these. Rugged, and reliable, built to last, and an almost art deco look, these were wonderful machines especially from an engineering, and design standpoint. This would be number one on my list. The SM 3 Deluxe being my choice for a portable.
Question: (And I’ve not found it on the web, so ask here) — I have two Olympia typewriters, one I know to be a SM9, the other is identical to it – except it does not have DeLuxe at that base of the keybars. Not an SM9? Thoughts?
From previous comment on the SM9 post from Richard Knoppow:
What’s the difference between SM9 and SM9 De Luxe?
The De Luxe (the way Olympia spells it) has a carriage release key on both sides, the standard model on one side only. There may be other minor differences. The SM-9 De Luxe is about as close to a good office machine as a portable gets.
As far as style, its fine but not distracting.
These machines do not have the spring cushioned keys that the early portables and office machines have. Does not seem to make much difference and I think was expensive.
I love many of my portables (yeah, some I just like), and I have a few nice ones, but if I were literally writing a novel I wouldn’t want to use any of them for long. I would use one of my Remington Rand 17’s. Very smooth carriage, pleasant low-energy type action and light basket shift. I would just decide between pica or elite. Otherwise I would choose another of my standard models. I actually like my old Continentals for lengthy typing sessions.
I bought my first typewriter just a few months ago from an antique store. Of the numerous models on offer, I selected an Olympia SM9. While many typewriter fans seemingly prefer the look of the older machines, I was initially drawn to the Olympia (along with a few other typewriters from this era) for of its design. I actually like the design of many different products from this era — not just typewriters. In fact, the styling of this SM9 reminds me very much of my pool table, the iconic Brunswick Gold Crown introduced in the early 1960’s. But I didn’t buy the Olympia just because of it’s looks. I had the chance to compare multiple SM9’s against other typewriters from the likes of Royal, Underwood, Smith-Corona, Remington, Adler, and Brother before making my purchasing decision. Not that there was anything wrong with the performance of the other machines, I simply preferred the way the Olympias felt in use.
I have a bunch, including the Olympias SM7, SM9, SG3 and SM2, and yes – the SM7 (and SM9) are probably the ‘fleetest of foot’ – the most effortless to write with, particularly for long periods. Another which I love and is slightly cranky but pure fun to use is the ’49 (or so) Royal Quiet Deluxe – great response and ergonomics, but again, a little cranky (will jam upon occasion, and skip, here and there, but not terribly bad or in an annoying way.) Two others that are seamless operationally speaking are the Triumph Perfekt (1958) and the Rheinmetalls.
I’ve tried both a Royal Quiet Deluxe and a Triumph (although it might have been a Gabrielle(?) model. Both nice, but me personally neither felt as good as the SM9’s to me.
What do you think about the Olympia Traveller Deluxe, Working Typewriter, Vintage 1970? I am shopping for a portable typewriter for my daughter that’s a writer.
It’s very decent, but really for traveling. If it stays semi-put, I prefer a larger Olympia – SM7 or SM9 would be my recommendations – steadier machines in place
One additional note in response to a comment made by Ricky Garni above on March 17, 2020 (there was no Reply link available for that particular post). I purchased a fully-loaded Olympia SG3 last month that also came with the Owners Manual. The feature that you were referring to is called the “Paper Injector” according to the manual. While this can be used to eject the paper as you’ve noted, the intended purpose of the Paper Injector is to pre-feed the paper directly to the start point where you wish to begin typing. There is an adjustment dial located next to the lever that determines just how much paper is fed with a single pull of the lever. It’s really a slick feature and a testament to just how well designed and solidly built the SG3 is as the paper is loaded perfectly every time, without any additional adjustment required after loading (in my experience anyway).
The other interesting thing about the SG3 was its configurability. For example, in addition to the Paper Injector mentioned above, some models offered a Margin Release key that also served to disentangle jammed keys. There was also an optional double-spaced feature that placed a space between every character typed when this key was engaged. Olympia offered 5 different interchangeable carriages for this model in lengths of 13″, 15″, 18″, 24″, and 35″. The 13″ carriage appears to be what came with the standard configuration as that is what I see pictured by far the most often with these machines. The 24″ and 35″ carriages required the use of stabilizers that attached to the SG3.
I have an Olivetti linea 98 from the mid seventies that I use and I find it an excellent typewriter. It is an heavier model used by office workers all day long and performs very well. I don’t move it around very much so I like the size and feel of a full sized model. Perhaps a review of this style of typewriter could be done for fun as well😁
Thank you for the knowledgeable reviews from the webpage author and comments from readers. What are reputable brands / suppliers of lubricating oil for these vintage machines?
I have an Olivetti Lettera 31 on the way and appreciate essential maintenance recommendations!
Old post but I want to weigh in myself…
For portables, the writer on the go may I also humbly suggest the Alpina/AMC/Avona SK24? I have owned the AMC and currently the Avona and it is just *chefkissingfingers* … a fantastic experience.
Also the Torpedo/Blue Bird 18b which has the most substantial feeling while typing.
For ultra portable, the SC Skyriter, the Groma Kolibri, and the Olympia Traveller DeLuxe.
What are your thoughts on an Olivetti Lettera 32 made in Mexico? I’ve read that more of the parts are made with plastic? Does this make if any less appealing?
Hecho en Mexico! First I heard of a Mexican Lettera. Perhaps someone else knows more. I’ve had ones from Spain that seemed identical to the Italian made ones.
Ive recently purchased a lettera 32 made in Spain. Prior and after purchasing I’ve done a fair amount of research. The general consensus is the the Italian and Spanish factories were of a better quality. After a certain period manufacture began in Mexico and Yugoslavia and are considered of a lesser quality in material and workmanship. No firsthand knowledge here excepting my ownership of my 2nd owner Spanish made Olivetti “Ophelia” named this morning, which I have just begun to become familiar and enjoy.
I understand that it is difficult to make a selection of ten. I have not tested all the machines manufactured. But I want to say that I would include my favorite: ERIKA 10, because of beauty, solidity, typping nice, reliability, excellent platen, etc. The high quality details of it. A artwork.
Absolutely agree with your opinion: https://typewriterreview.com/2014/12/17/erika-10/
My second best for the same qualities: VOSS ST24.
What a great list!! I have several of them, all in great condition. I have 2 Hermes Rockets, the 1960’s version which I use all the time and has traveled the world with me. Never q single problem. I have an Oluvetti Studio 44 that I am about to sell. It isn’t my personal preference. I like more snap. I also have Letteras 22 and 32. The 32 is nice, but I really like the 22. Feel of the keys and a faster action. My workhorse when I’m at home is a 1961 Torpedo. A little loud, but the absolute most precise machine, and I can type extremely fast with never a jam. It is similar, but I prefer it to the Olympia SM 4. Another nice typewriter I don’t have now but have used is a Tippa.
It is such an individual thing, the machine that fits one best. And not necessarily the one you think it ought to be. My Hermes Rocket is one I’ve gone back to for 25 years. I write a lot. Have several books.
Thanks for these posts. They are great!
My in-laws just gave me their Underwood 21 manual typewriter and I love it! It’s in great working condition, I just ordered and installed a new universal ribbon cartridge, which was a snap to replace. This beauty has a green/grey body, blue top and dark grey keys with a slight finger curve. This is my first manual typewriter post my HS days (‘77-‘81). It was made in Barcelona, Spain by Olivetti, my research indicates Underwood bought Olivetti in 1959. I believe my Underwood 21 was made in 1962, as the first two digits of the serial number is 62 — making it one year older than me. Happy typing!
Let’s face it, writing such a list is a subjective endeavor. I have six typewriters. Two IBM executives(Model B & D) a Remington Quiet Riter(1955), a Voss Model 24SK(1959), an Erika 10 (American keyboard)(1958)and an Olympia SM9 DeLuxe(1970). I would have to agree that the SM9 is a workhorse. It’s precise, effortless to use and the print quality is superb. It’s design is utilitarian but attractive. The Erika and the Voss are amazing machines. The snap when striking a key is unique and extremely enjoyable. The Erika is a metallic green while the Voss is an ivory and blue one with ivory keys. From a design standpoint the Voss wins every prize. To further its visual appeal, it’s loaded with chrome! The Remington is a great machine too but not visually exciting and the length of strike is a bit longer than any of the German machines. I find it less precise as a result. The two executives produce lovely documents but that proportional spacing makes for a very odd typing experience.
These days, with typewriter prices going up and a lot of people looking at them as collectables instead of work horse machines, I’ve been recommending the Smith Corona Galaxie 12’s. They can still be found for very cheap as they don’t quite have that classic “antique” look that people want yet they are very capable and comfortable to type on.
You’re right! In fact, the Galaxie 12 was my first typewriter find on Craigslist. 25 USD$. But, like many others, I got lathered up about the older machines and their looks and forgot about how well that Galaxie 12 worked.
Is there such a thing as an Elite typeface that comes in 10 CPI? I ask because I just bought an SM9 online from a reputable seller, and it had this description.
Must’ve had it wrong. Here’s the list of Olympia typefaces. https://munk.org/typecast/2011/04/23/1964-nomda-blue-book-olympia-font-styles/
Yes, I had also reviewed that same document, which is from 1964. The typewriter is a 1970 model, so I was wondering if there was a new size typeface for Elite.
If Olympia called 10 CPI “elite,” they’d be going against decades of nomenclature. I’d say it’s not elite.
The seller, who refurbishes and sells lots of manual typewriters, has since measured the typeface at landing between 10 and 11. And it’s Elite, not Pica. It has the closed “4”, the capital “M” with the middle that doesn’t reach the floor, etc.
As for the name of the typeface? No idea. The seller, not Olympia, called it “Elite 10 CPI” for the reasons outlined above. I understand that there may (or may not) be a marking on the hammers themselves that identifies the typeface. Are you aware of such a marking? At any rate, I will check it out when I receive the machine in a couple days.
Incidentally, my only other typewriter, a Remington Standard, has a huge custom typeface, installed by Tytell in NYC many years ago. Judging from the Olympia doc referenced above, it’s a large, bold version of “Congress Pica.” Customized for the Philadelphia Symphony, which wanted something very readable.
Note the document listing Imperial typeface in this page, which references Elite as ranging from “10 or 12 to one inch.”
Evidently there are some unusual typefaces out there.
Further research indicates that correct name for the typeface is “Modern Pica”, which looks somewhat similar to Elite (with just a few differences) , but is 10 CPI. This typeface is commonly found on Olympia SM9 models from around 1969 and 1970, thereabouts. It’s a more modern looking, streamlined font compared to the older Elite and Pica typefaces.
So…the seller was not correct in calling the typeface “Elite.”
Great find. Looks like a terrific typeface.
I have an SM9 of this vintage with Modern ELITE. It’s my favorite all purpose font. It produces a very crisp product and it’s very easily read too. I would say it is a slightly bolder and more squared off font than regular elite. I have not experienced any fill in the a, e, o, p etc. even when using new ribbons.
That is also my impression of the “Modern” Elite and Pica typefaces. They’re very sharp looking.
I am partial to the Gossen Tippa. If you get a good one of those, it is by far the most portable and usable. The metal can type needs a surface to sit on, but the wooden box type are the ultimate “lap top.”
Thanks for typewriter tip(pa)! Never had my fingers on one.
Facit TP1 is I think possibly the all-round best portable (as a combination of quality, touch, basket shift and so on) unless you want something more stylish or highly portable (eg Empire Aristocrat/Hermes Rocket/Groma Kolibri) or with an enclosed base. Part of the issue with evaluating these things is that they are all old, and a well maintained X will beat a poorly maintained Y even if Y is notionally ‘better’ than X. So reputation is only mildly useful. Except I would not touch a Remington made after the 1950s…
There’s a glowing review of the Facit 1620 here on TR, and not sure why it didn’t make the list. In fact, it rated above the SM9 and the Hermes 3000. Looking back I was reluctant to include in the Top 10 because they weren’t highly available at the time. (This was 10 years ago!) But now a quick search on eBay nets a few good ones at bargain prices. Perhaps it’s time to revise the list!
Does anyone have experience with the Everest K2? I’m considering one that looks to be in great condition. But I’m new to these manual typewriters and need your input. Thanks!
New to me! Sounds like they have the two highest summits covered. Must be the tops. Send a link to one and we’ll check it out.
If I want to purchase a totally refurbished Olympia or one of the others you recommended, where would I buy one? I found this site, but it seems pretty pricey? https://www.classictypewriter.com/typewriter-shop
I have purchased two Olympia SM-9 locally from Craigslist. Both are great machines and based on the condition of their platens seldom used. The mechanisms were clean and because they were kept in their cases, there was little to no dust on the type baskets or anywhere. I paid $95 for the Pica machine and $140 for the one with Modern Elite. Both needed new ribbons but included cases w/keys , manuals, cleaning kits w/cloths and one even had a plastic cover! I use both often and they’re fabulous machines. I don’t think you need to go looking for a totally refurbished machine. Just find a really clean one, try it out and if it seems like a good fit, buy it and enjoy it. These machines seem to hold up very well and require only a minimum of maintenance. I would only buy locally where you don’t have to have it shipped.
Thank you so much! It is good to know I might be able to afford to do this! I live out in the Wilds of Arizona, so most things need to be shipped, but I will check on Craigslist. I had not thought of that possibility. 🙂
One of the reasons the Olympia SM-9 is numero uno, is you can usually find one for a good price that doesn’t need any refurbishing. Ebay is fine for this. Find a seller who says it’s in “working condition”. Ask them to ship in a good box with lots of stuffing. When you get it and find it’s not working, you get a refund, including shipping both ways. If you’re after an SM-3, I’d recommend getting one that’s refurbished. They’re a bit more fickle than the SM-9. Good luck and enjoy!
Thank you Daniel, so very much! I have just found out about Touch control. Sounds very much like something I would want to have, so I am doing more research! 🙂 But I sure hope to buy something soon. I am excited about being able to type for hours, with no need for electricity. 🙂