Large Spools of Hermes--Mystery Solved!

Several fellow typospherians replied to my previous "Hermes Question" post, for which I'd like to say "thank you".

Now the mystery is solved: the two large vertical spools at the front are for carbon ribbon. Indicated on the spool in green is the feed-take mechanism and ribbon path. The Hermes Ambassador has two sets of ribbon vibrator: one for the regular nylon ribbon, the other one carbon. Correspondingly its color switcher has four positions, carbon, black, read and stencil.

In 2014, renowned Australian typewriter collector Mr. Robert Messenger posted a video on his blogspot, demonstrating how this sophisticated two-ribbon mechanism works. It's very interesting to see.

I've attached the video in this post. Though in the first part of it, Mr. Messenger introduces the de-jam feature of Ambassador, which, to me, is not a novel idea as all Chinese Flying Fish desktops come with a de-jam key and I've seen a lot. Just in case you are curious about how Chinese typewriters look like,please refer to my previous post of which a link is provided.


You may fast-forward Mr.Messenger's video to the latter part if you are more interested in its carbon ribbon mechanism.

Now an obvious question,why bother to have two sets of vibrator? Is carbon ribbon superior to regular ones? Is it to compete with the electronic typewriters already popular when the Ambassador was launched in 1970s?

Sorry for being so inquisitive.


  1. Oh, jeez. The carbon ribbons give a much clearer, crisper impression, so they look better for professional correspondence or for producing camera-ready images for reproduction.

    On the other hand, cloth ribbons are much cheaper to buy and can be run through the typewriter several times before the ink runs out, but they give a rougher impression so they are used for everyday projects that do not have to look great.

    This arrangement that you have here is able to use both systems and switch between them in an instant.

    == Michael Höhne

    1. Michael: thank you for a very clear explanation of the dual ribbon system and the benefits of each type of ribbon.

    2. Thank you Michael for enlightening me on this subject.