Olympia SM9 Typewriter - Thrift Store Find

Sunday, January 05, 2020

You might ask why anyone would need a typewriter in 2020. And that would be a very good question.

There is something appealing about using pre-digital technologies that can't be explained. As a computer "nerd" by day, it is a relief to find something that is reliable, simple and just "gets it done" with no fuss, upgrades required, bugs or constant distractions.

Enter the Olympia SM-9 De Luxe. I confess I have had this typewriter sitting on my desk for a few months but haven't taken the opportunity to write about it. This is the 2nd typewriter in my collection, after my original Adler Tippa from 1971 (given to me around 1980 by my aunt). I had been thinking of getting another when I encountered this one at a local thrift store. When I saw it the paper-bail (the bar that holds the paper down) was loose and floppy, and I thought broken. The rest of the typewriter was functional as I tested it at the store. I took my chances and bought it anyway. 

The Olympia SM-9 is the Cadillac of portable typewrite writers. It has automatic tab features, key pressure adjustment, and even a "1" key - something some other typewriters don't have. The wide carriage is designed for landscape paper or, more likely, large envelopes.

It is a very popular typewriter model and commonly recommended to people seeking a typewriter, and I feel lucky to have found it locally because you wouldn't want to ship it as it is soooo heavy. It is considered a portable typewriter (with a carry case), heavy because of it's German-engineered metal construction. You wouldn't want to be hauling this thing around like a laptop but it can be moved easily enough if you wanted to relocate it. 

As it turned out, the paper bail problem was nothing but a loose screw which was fixed easily and now everything is in great shape. I was curious about what font it used as Olympia used quite a few different fonts as documented here by  T. Munk. A quick comparison of the letter "y" above  to the Munk samples, shows that my typewriter has a serif font, which limits it to the "Modern" typeface and by measuring how many letters per inch, I know that it is a Pica (10 pitch) - so Modern Pica No. 67. 

I have yet to find the serial number anywhere, but the shape of the typewriter suggests it's from 1966 (making it older than me, ha ha!). Anyway, if I'm not online, it could be that I'm jotting my thoughts down on this beautiful old thing.

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