1958 Hermes Rocket

Hermes Rocket

I would consider the 1958 Hermes Rocket to be the finest typewriter in my collection. True, the Groma Model N is a dream of a machine to write on, and others may have more history, but the Rocket is quite simply the finest typewriter ever made. At least as far as I’ve been able to determine. Fifty eight years old and it’s still types like a dream. Incredibly smooth action and so light it’s startling. This was my first major “ebay” purchase and I had to stay on top of the bidding right up until the last second. When it arrived and I lifted the box from the porch, I was shocked by how light it was, and for a brief moment thought I had been duped.

To give you a little background, courtesy of a page on vintage typewriter jewlery: “The company that originally designed and manufactured the Hermes typewriter was E. Paillard & Company, a family firm founded by Moise Paillard in 1814. In the early beginnings, E. Paillard & Co. designed and manufactured some of the world’s finest watch movements and music box mechanisms. The amazing thing was that all of this was produced in a small workshop located on the ground floor of the family home in Sainte-Croix, Switzerland. E. Paillard & Co. perfected an invention in 1862 which allowed cylinders in musical boxes to be removed and play different melodies. A great mechanical engineering achievement for it’s time. The company later began to design and manufacture cylinder musical boxes, watches, and record players for clients all over the world. At this time in history, the musical box industry represents about 10% of Switzerland’s export. To this day, the name of Paillard is known around the world as manufacturer of some of the finest musical boxes ever made.”

In 1913, Paillard opened an additional factory in Yverdon, Switzerland and decided to design and construct typewriters. The Rocket, 3000, and Baby, are three models that are still widely used today, and loved by many. Over 160,000 Hermes typewriters were produced between the years 1923 and 1953 carrying the Hermes brand name. Between the years of 1923 and 1963, Hermes was the standard for typewriters in the world. Even today, some writers still prefer the feel of a Hermes manual typewriter. Simpson’s creator Matt Groening, Lonesome Dove author Larry McMurtry, and John Steinbeck all preferred to use a Hermes typewriter. There is just something about a manual typewriter that speaks to the creative muse in writers. In 1963, E. Paillard & Company merged with the German-based Thoren Group in a corporate marriage that would only last three years. E. Paillard & Company was incorporated into the Olivetti corporation in 1981 and ceased operations.