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Olympia SG3

Olympia Standard Typewriter

Note: So I’m camping at Sanborn Skyline Park in Saratoga, California, working on my Nano novel. I can’t say for sure that I will meet the goal of 50,000 words by the end of November, but I’m sure enjoying the process. I began the novel, Beings Without Selves, on my recently acquired Olympia typewriter (pictured above), but right now I’m using smaller portables: my Royal Sprite and my Remington 666. Being that I’m consumed with this Nano project, my post on the Olympia machine is a bit abbreviated.

Here is a posting I began a two weeks ago —

At $12.99 at a local thrift store, I could not pass up this Olympia typewriter. It needed basic cleaning — some of the keys stuck — but otherwise it was in fair shape. Typewriters, when in supply, generally sell for $25 at this shop, so this one represented a real deal. Given its size — it’s a behemoth — I can see why it was offered at a discount. It’s hard to find space for a machine like this.

That it should turn out to be such a fine typer is the real reward. The text is crisp and the alignment is straight. The typing, though a bit ponderous, is strong. I feel like I’m sitting at the head of a great star cruiser when I type on it.

Cleaning proved quite easy. The top casing snaps in place, so one need only pull and it is removed. The carriage is held in place by two clamps, so that it too can be removed by simply lifting the component. Ingeniously, the mainspring (the element which draws the carriage) is built into the carriage assembly. Judging from advertisements I’ve seen for this typewriter, the carriage was designed to be interchangeable with others of varying length. (Is this really so?)

My machine is mostly whole, lacking only paper table extension. Mine came with the dust cover, which is nice, as I’m using this typewriter as a regular machine. I want to keep it in top form, i.e. protected from dust.

Aesthetically, I’d say this typewriter is a pleasing machine. Its sloping lines are graceful and modern; its design is quite ingenious. This is the sort of machine one might use in a newsroom, or at home to write a novel. For whatever reason, this typewriter inspires creativity.

Olympia Typewriter

One last note, does anyone know the model?

© 2013, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Michael Höhne November 10, 2013, 10:54 pm

    Sure. It’s an SG3, the last of the big Olympia office machines. Highly regarded. I have one too, and like it a lot. Great design, great execution.

  • Ken Coghlan III November 10, 2013, 10:56 pm

    A great find! This is an Olympia SG3. I happen to consider the Olympia SG1 to be the greatest typewriter ever manufactured, followed very closely by the SG3. Then again, if I had found my SG3 first, I may see it the other way round.

    A fantastic deal on a fantastic typewriter. Good luck with Nano.

  • Scott K November 11, 2013, 10:51 am

    Sweet ride. If it is in good condition, this guy will be amazing to write on.

  • Richard P November 11, 2013, 10:33 pm

    What a bargain!!

  • Mark Adams November 12, 2013, 4:13 pm

    I thought it was an SG3. It is actually in very good shape, though not perfect (some minor adjustments are needed). It types very nicely, and I plan to post a typecast soon with this machine.

    P.S. A $12.99 find is certainly lucky, especially given what I’ve paid for other typewriters.

  • Claire Cartoon Bagby November 6, 2014, 12:19 am

    Wow, my dad wrote on this machine throughout his advertising copywriting career from the late fifties to the early eighties. When he left the company he’d been with for thirty plus years, in the late eighties, amazingly they insisted he leave his Olympia behind as “company property”! Nice.

    Anyway he loved that oly so much he went out to probably baltimores last typewriter sales and repair shop, then on north avenue in baltimore city, and told the guy what he was looking for. (Remember this is way pre Internet. I was maybe in my late teens at the time.) they guy kept an eye out and within a couple months, dad had a mint machine even better than the one he’d lost.

    But like all analog machines and mechanical things, which acquire their users imprint over time, this Olympia just wasn’t the same as his old one. Typewriters are like pets, you can’t just replace them and expect the same individual and experience you had before. So he did actually move on to a soulless IBM selectric then a very early MS word. (Not that he understood that at all, and kept writing over the same documents…)

    When he died a few years later, maybe twenty or so years ago, I inherited the “new” oly. I’m sad to say that I haven’t really used it except a few months after I got it during which, in my grief, I wrote long poems in it, now thankfully lost!

    I’m now working on an art project thing and need to make a tiny tiny version of a typewriter. I plan to use this as my model and your site is absolutely perfect inspiration, thank you.

  • Joshua Beta (JoshBeta1) July 21, 2016, 2:33 pm

    The Olympia SG 3 is the best typewriter ever. Its futuristic design reminds oneself of a machine from a sci-fi movie, a spaceship or such a kind of things. xD

    In Mexico, that model is still the mainstream standard office machine you still can find at almost any Mexican office. xD

  • Missy September 5, 2016, 2:40 pm

    I found an sg3 at a garage sale…..all seemed to be working well on it until it stopped moving forward whenever a key or space bar was pressed…..my son was typing on it when this happened…..could a key have been pressed?

  • Tony November 23, 2018, 11:13 pm

    how to release carriage on typewriter olympia sg3
    70’s model it is all the way to one side I don’t know how to release it to get it back to start typing position

  • Donald Starr June 11, 2021, 2:18 am

    Is that a Mill typewriter?

  • HazKhan August 16, 2022, 1:40 pm

    I got a Olympia typewriter as a very young man from my uncle. so lived very well on it. i learned a lot on it. So when the time came to go to my computer lesions, my trainer asked me how come i can type well on the keyboard without ever been on a pc before. I told him i have a typewriter and learned a lot on it. He said he almost forgotten about those typewriters 😀

  • Nick D August 17, 2023, 7:07 pm

    Just picked one of these up at thrift for $5!

    It’s a 1968 model, so the keys are the later dark gray color, but it still has the old nameplate. It’s a little worn and needs a bit of servicing (the keys are sticky with gunk) but even in its compromised form I can tell that it’s a hell of a typer. The paint is in good shape, it has the wide carriage shift with paper injector, and the only thing that’s not working (aside from the sticky keys) is the right margin stop seems to be slightly intermittent.

    I always told myself I was never going to buy one of these. It’s too big. My SM3 is honestly enough machine for the typing that I do. That the SG3 may be the best ever made, but the SM3 still very good and why would I need the best typewriter ever to do occasional journaling? That I’d worked so hard to pare down my collection to just one machine, and buying even one more was just tempting me to reopen Pandora’s Box.

    But come on. $5 is $5. Nobody reading this blog post, let alone the comment’s section, would’ve passed that by.

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