Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The Typewriter Collection No 9: Olympia SM2 (Circa 1951) & No 10: Olympia SM3 (Circa 1954)

Man, oh man, I love this brand! When I started getting more seriously interested in typewriters, I decided that I was going to aim for definitive models from the decades of the 1930s through to the '60s. When it came to getting something from the Fifties, I narrowed my choices down to Remington, Royal and Olympia. This was only after I had done a little research on Alan Seaver's  http://www.machinesoflovinggrace.com/ , and The Classic Typewriter Page ( http://site.xavier.edu/polt/typewriters/index.html ) by Richard Polt, as well as poring through almost every page of Robert Messenger's book, "The Magnificent 5". These three sources of info were enough to tell me which machines were worth going for.

The more I looked at Olympia SM series machines, the more I liked them. I've already written about these two typewriters...




...so I'll try not to be too repetitive.

The scan came out slightly cropped. For those of you interested, what I'd written was; "Man, I hope it turns out better than that!"

The 'De Luxe' engraving originally looked like this;

A couple of runs with some gold acrylic and...

That's better.

Here's how it looked when I first got it.

And once Tom worked his usual magic, it turned out like this;

When I got it, the drawband wasn't where it should have been;

I got a coat-hanger. Then I got my Leatherman Wave.

Then I got lucky.

The case fell apart when I removed the bubble-wrapping;

But some wood glue and some tacks took care of that, although I'm toying with the idea of making a new carry-case for this machine. Even though the furthest that I'll carry it will be from the lounge room to the study. Once I clear my desk.

I've noticed some slight design variations between these two typewriters. Specifically, the carriage return levers.
Here's the circa 1951 SM2's;

Works extremely well. Very intuitive to use. Beats the iPod's user-friendliness by about 55 years. And here's the return lever on the SM3;

Impossible to miss this one, no matter how drunk you get...not that I've tried, mind you.

Either way, these '50s Olympias are a joy to use.

If you're out there taking a stroll through the typosphere and have never tried out one of these, I suggest you get your hands on one. Damn, I thought I wiped that table down!

Thanks for reading, all!


  1. Nice post. The completist in me suggests I should try and get an SM2. My SMs 3 and 4. But I could say the same about coloured Corona 4s (and 3s for that matter). So good to have a plan, then to abandon it on a whim. This family of Olympias crops up pretty regularly on UK eBay and if there's no rust and the case is OK-looking, I'm sure they'd all scrub up well and make great typing machines. Even for (especially for..) people who may only have a single typewriter.

  2. The pleasure can also be in owning such a precision instrument for the express pleasure of handling the controls, feeling its silky smoothness, and knowing it'll outlast us with a little care. I love Olympias also. The amazing part is thinking this is the same country that started two World Wars! Enjoy your beautiful machines, they're like a classic Chanel suit. Richard K/TX

  3. It's amazing what a good service seems to do to a typewriter. Just amazing! And I think the gold fits the DeLuxe better than red...

  4. Nice post. Very nice machines. They both have a wonderful clear typeface.

  5. I love the side shot with the two apples.

  6. Thanks for the great writeup. I enjoy our SM3 machines, but I agree the keys are just a bit heavier than some of the alternatives. I'd like to try an SM2 and see how it compares to the feel of the Torpedo 18.

    I have two 1930s vintage Olympia machines still in a partial state of repair. The Simplex has a pretty clear mechanical design lineage with the later SM3 models. The touch is really light, but it doesn't have the same "snap". The dinky plastic key tops are a bit trickier to navigate as well.

    I empathize with your hand sketching issues. I can't draw worth a darn, so I take photos instead.

  7. I am intending to buy and SM2, its being cleaned up at the moment. i think it might be earlier to the one you have here. It seems to look like the purple sm3 model but it's supposed to be model 2.

    It has a Continental Elite typeface, I haven't seen a typed page of it so i don't know what it looks like, i hope it is clear to read. I'll come back here and post some before and after shots. I think it would be great to have a catalogue on here to see the differences.

  8. I have an SM2 in perfect condition with hard shell case that is in good condition. If interested, contact me at al_chirico@hotmail.com or at 949-636-3214

    1. Aww, and I thought I'd gone to the trouble of starting this blog so that I could write about all of my stuff and here you are, using it to peddle yours. There's a little place on the Internet called eBay. You could perhaps try selling the SM2 there. If it's in as good a condition as you say, you might just get a pretty good price for it.
      Do you mind?

  9. The carriage of my Olympia SM2 does not move right or left.
    The carriage release and carriage lock levers have no effect.
    Can anybody help?