Demeter, Typewriter of the Olympians

I recently purchased a beautiful, vintage Green Goddess–the 1960 Olympia SM4 portable typewriter in this very picture. Demeter needs a small amount of restoration and repairs, which I think I can handle. i have no idea what i’m doing. I’m a little obsessed, am on *every* typewriter message board and blog, and am performing the surgical procedures a little at a time. The chrome clasps on her adorable travel case have some rust, and I’m tackling that too. Guys, I’m psyched about her new ribbon: black on top and purple on the bottom. Her 1960 ribbon had no words.

Olympia SM4 Portable Typewriter

1960 Olympia SM4 Portable Typewriter

You may notice her set key, next to the space bar, sits lower than it should. The man I bought rescued Demeter from forgot to lock the keys when he shipped her. Bad things happened to that key in transit, and I’m working on figuring it out. A spring or whatnot has likely come loose in the linkage, and I’ve found a picture of the bottom of an Olympia SM4 with a working set key. I’ll use that pic to help me trace the bar back, step-by-step, inspect all the things, and hopefully manage to find and repair whatever has gone wrong. oh my gods, guys, do not let me take her apart to see how she works. i’m not Sylar, ffs. Regardless, she is perfectly serviceable for my needs, even if I can’t get the set key working. Tabbing over the hard way worked for Woolf, and it’ll work for me.

Demeter mainly needs a good cleaning, which is pretty frackin’ involved after sitting in someone’s [grandmother’s/great uncle’s/stranger’s-estate-sale] attic or basement for umpteen years several decades. I know more than previously seemed necessary or reasonable about degreasing without de-painting and about removing rust and gunk™ without melting some important rubber bit or other. These days, terms such as “platen,” “type-bar,” and “ball race holding screw” float through my mind, unbidden.

My next task is entering Demeter’s serial number and pinup pictures into The Typewriter Database. I thought I’d try typing my creative writing on Demeter this semester. Whenever I turn my MacBook Pro on, I feel obligated to work on my MFA critical thesis. I’d also love to attend a type-in, which I will probably need to organize with one of the typewriter-friendly bars here in Portland, ME. The lovely Demeter will accompany me for that outing. In the meantime, I will try to post a scan of some fancy, purple prose and progress pix. Soonish. Don’t lie: You know you wanna see her case all polished and glowing like a Firefly.


tl;dr: I got a typewriter, named her Demeter, and am super excited about restoring her to her former glory.


  1. I just love it. You know in my country now it is a herculean task to find a typewriter to buy. I love the name. Demeter. The goddess. I wish you all the best.



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