A late '60s Hermes Ambassador standard typewriter - raised frontal view.

Up at the pinnacle of manual typewriter design, or very near it, was the Hermes Ambassador: a very large, very heavy, and very capable machine. Mine is a 1967 model, with a 15" carriage produced near the end of the period where Hermes used their distinctive ‘sea-foam green’ colour-scheme for the keys, platen knobs, etc. Never at any stage of its evolution a particularly attractive unit, the Ambassador reveals its many charms in use: it has as smooth and solid-feeling a typing action as one could wish for.

A late '60s Hermes Ambassador standard typewriter - side view.

I bought it relatively cheaply (about £25) via ebay five years ago, driving to suburban Cardiff to collect it from the seller. The typewriter had belonged to his late father, apparently a successful restauranteur. It’s one of the Ambassadors with a dual ribbon system: that is, it has the usual pair of spools for a standard cloth ribbon but also an additional, larger pair for a film or carbon ribbon. The latter ribbons are now all-but unobtainable, but this machine still had one installed, so I’ve been able to see the wonderfully crisp & clean type it can produce. Moreover, an original dust-cover was also included.