What are the Best typewriters for writers & novelists
After reading a lot of disappointing and inaccurate articles online about the best typewriters for writers & later watching some totally inaccurate & irrelevant videos about what are the top typewriters for a effortless typing experience, I finally decided to build a solid list of the top performing typewriters that novelists, writers and any typewriter enthusiast can rely on for a lot and lot of typing.
This is not a random list of typewriters I found in my local area but its was created based on my experience as typewriter restoration expert, repairman, and user and after typing on more than 300 different typewriter models in our workshop and after rescuing not less than 4000 typewriters in the last 8 years.
The typewriter models I will be sharing with you should be genuinely restored and properly serviced to top standards to relate to the article as you should not expect a locally picked up typewriter or randomly bought typewriter from resellers on Etsy and eBay to flawlessly type as typewriters need a lot of detailed work to perform they are expected to.
Most importantly, this list will not include large desk typewriters and will only include portable and semi portable typewriters.
Starting off our list is the Adler Tippa S. We know this may be a surprise, but trust us, this typewriter is a hidden gem. While it may have a plastic frame that’s less durable, it's such a smooth machine to type on when properly restored.
Personally, I'm not a fan of the plastic frame, but it does give them an advantage in terms of weight when compared to other reliable portable typewriters.
In our workshop, we've prepared over a hundred portable Adlers, and we often recommend them to young writers and individuals who prefer a lighter touch on the keys for a clean print. The Adler Tippa will get the job done effortlessly, thanks to its smooth and snappy performance.
You might also come across Adler typewriters under the name of Triumph.
Remember Stanley Kubrick, the acclaimed director of the suspenseful horror film, "The Shining"? Well, he was once caught on camera using the original yellow-coloured Adler Tippa behind the scenes. It's no surprise he made such a smart choice, as this light and portable typewriter can be easily used anywhere on set.
The next typewriters on our list are the Olympia Traveller Deluxe S and Olympia Splendid models.
Let me tell you, we've had extensive experience with these typewriters, having meticulously restored and sold over 150 of them in the past two years only! And let me assure you, every single one of them performed flawlessly once properly cleaned and freed from any dust or dirt. These typewriters are like tiny workhorses that just keep going.
One notable feature of these Olympia typewriters is their considerable lightness, making them truly portable. While the Olympia Traveller does have a small plastic component in its frame, it still maintains its sturdiness and compactness. On the other hand, the Olympia Splendid model is flatter, firm, and exceptionally well-built, capable of withstanding hours of typing without any issues.
I cannot emphasize enough just how reliable and well-made these Olympia typewriters are. In fact, I confidently recommend them even over the popular Hermes Baby typewriter when someone is looking for a small and portable option. Their performance surpasses that of the Hermes Baby, especially when it comes to my personal preference of hammering the keys with powerful strikes. The Olympia portables can handle it all.
I want to add a note here specifically about the Olympia Traveller model. It's important to look for the Olympia Traveller Deluxe S that was made in Germany and is a preferred choice.
Because Later models made in East European countries saw a decline in the quality of materials used and the overall build structure was weaker. So, when it comes to the Olympia Travellers, opt for the German made Deluxe S version for the best quality and performance.
Brother Deluxe typewriters, especially this Deluxe model in blue, have always been one of the most successful typewriters in our shop as they are reliable, smooth, elegant, nicely designed and most importantly, they look amazing with lots of charm.
I would list this brother typewriter in the top 5 if it wasn’t more modern than other models and had slightly larger keys.
My recommendation also applies to the models Brother100, Brother Deluxe 220, Brother Deluxe 210 with metal frame but does not apply to later plastic models that had the speed spacer & have been badly designed and manufactured of cheap material.
Although it is Surprisingly smooth, the sound of typing on it is slightly louder than other portables but we usually solve the minor problem by adding some padding on the inside of its frame to reduce the noise.
What an awesome machine that reminds us of the 1st typewriters we worked on & we even asked Jerry Seinfeld to autograph our brother Deluxe after preparing two typewriters for his upcoming movie, “Unfrosted” on Netflix.
- Olivetti Lettera 22
The next typewriter on our list is the Olivetti Lettera 22, and let me tell you, it's a must-have addition. This portable typewriter is known for its immense success and regarded as one of the best in its category.
When it was first designed and manufactured in 1949, the Olivetti Lettera 22 brought about a revolution in typewriter technology. Its slick design and portability quickly caught the attention of the market, leading to its dominance in the 1950s. Not only is it visually appealing, but it also boasts unlimited reliability.
One noteworthy feature of the Olivetti Lettera 22 is its innovative key basket shifting mechanism.
This mechanism is much lighter on the fingers compared to the carriage shifting commonly found in pre-World War 2 typewriters. This design choice enhances the typing experience, allowing for comfortable and effortless typing for hours on end.
In addition, the Olivetti Lettera 22 offers the ability to adjust the tension of the typing touch. This additional feature ensures that each user can find their preferred typing feel.
& For those who appreciate a touch of nostalgia, the older versions of the Olivetti Lettera 22 feature soft-surfaced black round keys, adding to the overall tactile experience.
Over time, the Olivetti Lettera 22 received upgrades and enhancements. It even made appearances in different colours such as Salmon Pink and Pistachio Green, which were considered out of this world and hip during their time.
It's worth noting that even renowned songwriter Leonard Cohen was known to be a regular user of the Olivetti Lettera 22, often preferring to keep the lid off while typing.
All in all, the Olivetti Lettera 22 is a true gem in the world of typewriters, combining revolutionary design, impeccable reliability, and an impressive typing experience.
- Smith Corona Super Silent Typewriter (5th Series) & Smith Corona Standard Typewriter or Silent (Flat Topped)
When it comes to Smith Corona typewriters, I must say that I don't generally favour their portable models. While typing on them, I often feel an echoing emptiness that doesn't appeal to me.
However, I am fortunate to have come across certain models that were beyond wonderful, particularly the Super and Silent-Super from the Series 5. These typewriters are incredibly reliable, well-designed, compact, sturdy, and provide a smooth typing experience. In fact, I personally own a Silent Super that's always ready for my occasional typing needs.
For me, the Smith Corona models under the name Clipper, and the later models like the Galaxie, proved to be less sturdy and disappointingly hollow. Additionally, some models had fragile levers that were prone to breaking and the common problem of misalignment between letters.
That being said, my favourite Smith Corona typewriters are the Silent, Silent Super, and the 1st series Sterling models. They outperform all other Smith Corona models that I have worked on.
These typewriters offer exceptional efficiency, resilience to common issues, and the ability to withstand extended hours of typing. Another model that I recommend is the pre-war flat-topped Standard & Silent Smith Corona that I have used in the past, and it performed exceptionally well.
However, any Smith Corona typewriter produced after the 1960s is a no-go for me as the frequent use of plastic parts and frames in their designs significantly lowered their overall quality and performance.
The Imperial Good Companion Model 1 Typewriter is a fantastic choice for anyone who appreciates the intersection of beauty and functionality. This British-made typewriter stands out among its peers with its unique King George coat of arms emblem and elegant line spacing lever. The key strikes at a tilted 180-degree angle from the keys bed to the platen, which is laid low at the back of the typewriter. Additionally, the carriage shifting mechanism is smartly and efficiently designed, making the shifting process soft and precise.
One of the most impressive features of the Imperial Good Companion is the significant dinging bell.
Despite being a 1930s model, this typewriter looks and performs impressively well.
Fully restored, it will not disappoint in terms of both performance and aesthetic appeal. In fact, Joujou has successfully restored and sold hundreds of these typewriters, with four of them even appearing in the award-winning Netflix production "Mank" in 2020.
Overall, the Imperial Good Companion Model 1 Typewriter is an excellent choice as a thoughtful gift or as a source of inspiration for any writer.
The Olympia SM3 Typewriter, along with its successor the Olympia SM4, is undeniably one of the most successful typewriters ever built. It has earned its reputation as a workhorse, capable of handling long hours of typing without a hint of trouble.
Hailing from Germany, Olympia typewriters have always been regarded in our Workshop as the epitome of longevity and reliability. These typewriters are engineered to outperform their competitors in terms of durability and performance, regardless of their make, class, or model.
In fact, renowned filmmaker Woody Allen himself attests to the exceptional quality of the Olympia SM3, describing it as a tank that has served him faithfully since he purchased it at the age of 16. He relied on this typewriter to meticulously type all of his scripts throughout his career.
To help our viewers understand the subtle differences between the SM2, SM3, and SM4 typewriters, we have even created a dedicated YouTube video. While these models are quite similar, the SM3 and SM4 offer minor design and option upgrades that further enhance their functionality.
Without a doubt, the Olympia SM3 and SM4 are robust and sturdy typewriters that can handle extensive typing tasks with ease. They consistently produce clear prints, accurate line spacing, smooth carriage returns, advanced tension control, and even feature a notable dinging bell at the end of each line.
The Olivetti Lettera 32 Typewriter is a standout option that checks off almost all the boxes for a perfect, reliable typewriter suitable for extended typing sessions, travel, and general ease of use.
It offers a smooth typing experience, ample options availability, and convenient basket shifting. One noteworthy feature is its flat-topped square keys, which provide a comfortable and responsive typing experience.
Claiming the top spot in our portable typewriter category, the Olivetti Lettera 32 faces no competition due to its rich history as one of the most widely used and produced typewriters throughout time. It is recognised for its ability to consistently deliver efficient and timely results, no matter the time or place.
Personally, I am a fan of the Italian-made versions of the Olivetti Lettera 32, as they tend to be slightly sturdier compared to the earlier Spanish versions, albeit with minor differences.
The Lettera 32 originally comes with a stylish leather-like carrying case that securely holds the typewriter, offering both protection and convenience.
Notably, esteemed American writer Cormac McCarthy used a battered Olivetti Lettera 32 that sold at a Christie's auction for over $250,000 back in 2009.
This typewriter faithfully accompanied him as he typed all of his novels, including those that went on to win Pulitzer Prizes and National Book Awards.
With over 400 Olivetti Lettera 32 typewriters sold by our workshop, we highly recommend this model and its counterparts, such as the Olivetti Lettera DL.
The Lettera DL gained recognition for being used by Francis Ford Coppola to type the screenplay for the critically acclaimed "The Godfather" film series. Even to this day, we consider it the ultimate portable typewriter ever made.
However, it's important to note that later models manufactured in Mexico, Brazil, and other countries under the Olivetti brand may not meet our expectations in terms of quality and durability. These mass-produced versions often feature lower-quality materials, fragile plastic components, and less robust frames.
For peace of mind and the ability to carry your typewriter wherever you go, I wholeheartedly recommend the Olivetti Lettera 32 or the Lettera DL.
When it comes to reliability and affordability, the Olympia SM9 Typewriter (including its older versions, the SM8 and Monica) is a strong contender that would have easily taken the top spot if our #1 choice wasn't already perfect.
Out of all the Olympia typewriters ever made, the SM9 stands out as one of the smoothest typewriters to type on. Its keys are easy to press, making for an effortless typing experience. The pre-1970s models, in particular, showcase brilliant design and craftsmanship, making them the best versions of any Olympia typewriter.
A significant upgrade from the previously designed and manufactured SM models, the SM9 has enjoyed widespread success.
Not only do they offer a seamless typing experience, but they also feature one of the lightest basket-shifting mechanisms ever designed on semi portable typewriters. The team at Olympia typewriter company truly perfected this design.
The Olympia SM9 will always hold a place in my top 3 typewriters to type on. In fact, I would dare to say that the early SM8 performs just as well as the SM9 without any issues. The main difference lies in the tab setting mechanism – the SM9 has them located on the front near the space bar, while for the SM8, the tabs are manually set from the back of the carriage.
While it is partially true that the best-made Olympia SM9s are the early models with green shift keys and knobs, it's important to note that all SM9s are great performers. However, as time went on and later models made post-1970s were introduced, slight corners were cut in terms of materials, particularly with plastic main springs. Despite this, they remain top performers.
The Hermes 3000 Typewriter is widely regarded as the pinnacle of typewriter perfection. With its impeccable mechanics, unmatched smoothness and responsiveness of the keys, and a light and comfortable carriage return, it surpasses all competition.
Designed and manufactured in Switzerland, the Hermes 3000 operates flawlessly, similar to a precision Swiss watch. Its soft shifting ensures perfect prints without any strain on the fingers, allowing for long hours of effortless typing. When using this remarkable typewriter, your only concern will be deciding what to put down on paper.
The key to its exceptional design lies in the short inner links connected to the key arms. This feature reduces the effort required to press the keys and enables the gentlest strikes possible, resulting in beautifully printed text.
The Hermes 3000 offers an extensive range of options, including tension control, tabs, colour selection, and magic margins. Whatever your typewriter needs may be, the Hermes 3000 caters to them all.
While my recommendation is primarily based on the pre-1965 curved models, the later square-topped models are still a viable choice, although slightly less durable. Their frames, however, cannot match the sturdiness of the early models.
On the other hand, I cannot endorse the later plastic frames. Despite having a similar mechanism, these frames are easily damaged and lack durability. A single broken piece can render the typewriter useless.
For those who do not require the tabulation option, I highly recommend considering the pre-1965 Hermes Media. Although it offers fewer options, it boasts the same exceptional mechanism as its counterparts.
In conclusion, the Hermes 3000 is a dream typewriter that will faithfully serve you as long as you take good care of it.
Finally, i would like to remind every one reading this typewriter article that my review is based on genuinely restored typewriters like the ones we rejuvenate in our workshop and this top 10 list is a personal review that i have created from typewriter repair experience.
Mr & Mrs Vintage typewriters.
- Underwood 3 Bank Typewriter
- Royal P Typewriter - personally like the later winged covered Royal P
- Olivetti Lettera 22
- Hermes 2000