Sunday 15 September 2013

"Better To Travel Hopefully Than To Arrive"- My Folly With An Olympia SF.

I thought I'd borrow that line for the post title from "You Only Live Twice"* because it nicely sums up the 'reality not meeting expectation' that we've probably all experienced at least once in our lives, and it perfectly sums up this recent typewriter experience of mine.
So you may have read of my missing out on a thrift store Olympia a few weeks ago. It looked a lot like this one, but it had no Splendid badging on it;

picture courtesy of (hope you don't mind, Nat!)

Okay, so I decided that I wanted an Olympia SF after seeing this picture of Ian Fleming using one at his home, Goldeneye, in Jamaica in the early '60s;

And that's just like the one that I got off eBay.

Looked great, especially after I took it apart and cleaned it. Wedged some sound-proofing into the sides of the case too.

And then, as a comparison, I sat down with my Splendid 99 and typed a little on that;

And noticed more than a little difference.

*I really hate relying on Google searches all the time because I'd like to think that I can sometimes find information via other means or within the recesses of my memory, but I read "You Only Live Twice" so long ago (1983?) that I felt it best to check the source of that quote. Turns out it was Robert Louis Stevenson who wrote it in "Virginibus Puerisque" in 1881.


  1. I agree with you on how the later SFs feel and sound. I'm not too fond of mine, and I'll be selling mine sooner or later and buy an earlier model with the proceeds.

  2. I've been interested in trying one of those later SFs myself. Now even more so. But as much as I find Olympia machines fascinating, I've been reluctant to pick up one of those Splendid machines.

    But, those red keys do look cool.

    1. It was a cool looking machine, Scott, but next time, if I see a machine that's like one I already have, I'll have a tap on my own one before I try out the other one. Just to make sure I remember how good (or bad) my one is. T'was a long, strange trip and I wound up with a typewriter that doesn't really thrill me. So off to eBay it goes, where somebody who's not as fussy as I will get some joy out of it.

  3. I think I just committed a similar sin. Winging its way to me is the Olivetti Studio 44 I passed on back in June. There was one closer so I could pick up, even though it looked in worse condition and cost more... Now it runs very nicely but I was on the 'bay the other day and saw the pristine-looking 44 from June still on sale. What the heck, I bought it. Whether they'll both be keepers or not is another matter. Past form tells me the new one will be neither better nor worse, just sufficiently 'different' to want to keep it. And therein lies my problem. A pleasant hobby becomes an obsessive and acquisitive search for nuance. Is there any help out there for lost souls?

  4. A pity the later Olympia didn't pan out. As we all know, though, looks can be deceiving. Some of my favorite machines to use could be taken as downright ugly. -Will Davis

  5. This is why I'm so cheap, and reluctant to spend on postage. Disappointment stings less that way. I hope you get a good price for it.

  6. I was thinking of getting a SF as well but now I'm not so sure :) I have Splendid 33 just like the one in the first picture and typing feels much tighter than on my Splendid 66.
    What material do you use for soundproofing?

  7. I have the exact same sentiments about SF vs Splendid! The Splendid is probably my favourite unltra portable :) The only reason I keep my SF is the history bits that came with it... lol.
    No worries Mr. T, I don't mind the picture at all ;)

  8. I've encountered machines that were unpleasant to use and so they sit. Better to send them on their merry way.

  9. @ ZetiX, I used some spongy foam purchased from an Art/Craft supplier. Used a Stanley knife (Exacto blade) to cut it to size.

    @ Nat, thanks again, Miss! Yep, the Splendid is very nice to use. I like the look of the SF, but it just didn't have the same feel.