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Olympia Typewriters: Legacy Of German Engineering In The Typewriter World

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  • image September 8, 2023
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  • image 6 min read


People like Olympia typewriters because they are durable and attractive at the same time. The products manufactured by Olympia, which were once referred to as the “Mercedes-Benz” of typewriters, have endured for decades and are now favored by many well-known authors and scriptwriters over other methods of writing used in modern times. 

Think about the best that Olympia offers when you’re starting to think about which vintage typewriter is best for you, and learn how a German industrial company made one of the best typewriters during the middle of the 20th century by reading about how Olympia did it.

1. Olympia Typewriter Origins

Starting in Berlin in 1903, a general electric company (AEG) that was already well-known wanted to take advantage of the growing market for typewriters. So, they started making their typewriters. 

Their first one, the Mignon, wasn’t very good. Unfortunately for the company, they couldn’t compete with other profitable companies until 1921, when they released their Model 3 typewriter. 

Yet, World War II greatly affected their production, as it did on many European companies The only thing that saved the newly named Olympia from the Soviet occupation of East Berlin was that former employees smuggled their secrets out of the city and set up a new branch in West Germany. Between the 1950s and 1970s, Olympia was at its best. However, the company did not change to meet the technological needs of its customers, so it shut down in 1992.

2. Olympia Typewriter Models

If you want to buy an Olympia typewriter, you’ll find most of them from the 1950s and 1960s. This is because this company was the best at making typewriters at the time, making millions of them.

In the same way, book publishers in new york city are the best typewriters they’ve ever made, so if you want a typewriter for more than just decoration, you should buy one of these mid-century models. But if you’re not interested in one of these models from the 1950s or 1960s, you can look through the Typewriter Database to see all of the machines Olympia made during its time in business.

SM Series

The SM series of typewriters began in 1949 and is the best Olympia offers. There were nine different types of typewriters, numbered from SM-1 to SM-9. The first ones were black, green, dark red, and cream. But by the 1960s, they were selling SM models in bright colors like orange, pink, and Robin’s egg blue. The SM series was a portable typewriter that was a good size for both work and personal use. Many authors today swear by their SM-2s and SM-3s.

SF Series

The SF series from Olympia came out in 1956 as a very portable machine. These small typewriters make the mid-size SMs look huge and have the chunky block letters that all early computer users are familiar with. One interesting thing about these typewriters is that you can use the margin release key to return the typebars where they were.

Olympiette Series

These Olympia typewriters from the 1970s don’t have the classic rounded shapes and matte finishes the company is known for. The Olympiette series, with its earthy colors that stand out, is much boxier than Olympia’s other models. Since Olympiette models aren’t as popular as SM models, they’re worth much less. However, you can get one for just a few hundred dollars.

3. How to Evaluate Olympia Typewriters

If you happen to have an Olympia typewriter in your possession, there are a pair of various matters you can do to get an early estimate on its capacity price. These steps encompass:

  • Check for functionality

Most importantly, look at the typewriter to see if it works. Are all the keys working, or do just a few now not reply when stuck? Typewriter maintenance may be steeply priced, so it is first-class to look at which the system is at before sending it in to be worked on.

  • Look for the original case and commands.

Any typewriter that includes bits and portions from its original sale, like instances, ribbon spools, training manuals, and so on, can increase a gadget’s real worth.

  • Assess the layout capabilities. 

Check for cracks inside the paint, missing keys, and faint or missing trademarks, as these things can depreciate a typewriter’s fee.

4. Olympia Typewriter Values

Now, if you want to buy one of these great old machines, you’ll find that their prices range from $300 to $900, depending on how much work it took to get it running again. Also, Olympia SM typewriters and Olympia typewriters from the 1920s through the 1930s will be the most expensive. The first ones because they are the most popular and reliable, and the second ones because they are rare and have an art deco design. 

For example, this working Olympia SM2 is for sale for around $550, while this 1958 SM3 is for sale for $800 from another seller. Ask around at antique shops or typewriter repair shops in your area to see what they have, and if that doesn’t work, look for items from private sellers online.

A Secret 

Danielle Steel, who has written many books, said in a blog post in 2011 that she had written all of them on a 1946 Olympia typewriter that she had bought and used at the start of her career. Steel shows that a typewriter can make you more productive, not less productive. So, if you want to try a new way to write, try an Olympia typewriter and see what happens.

Vital Aspects Unraveled

Feature Details Notable Models/Events
History & Origin Founded in Berlin, 1903 by AEG. Transitioned from Mignon to Model 3 in 1921. Model 3, Post-WWII Revival
Design Philosophy Renowned for durability and attractiveness, likened to the “Mercedes-Benz” of typewriters. SM Series, SF Series, Olympiette Series
Production Era Best period between 1950s-1970s. Decline in 1992 due to technological shifts. 1950s and 1960s models
Model Variations SM Series (1949) in various colors; SF Series (1956) for portability; Olympiette Series (1970s). SM-1 to SM-9, SF Series, Olympiette
Functionality Check Assess for working keys, original case, instruction manuals, and layout features.
Market Value Prices range from $300 to $900. SM models and 1920s-1930s models are more valuable. Olympia SM2, 1958 SM3
Cultural Impact Used by renowned authors; Danielle Steel wrote her books on a 1946 Olympia typewriter. Danielle Steel’s 1946 Olympia Typewriter


A testament to German craftsmanship, Olympia typewriters stand timeless against digital tides. Beyond mere tools, they are storytellers’ cherished companions, fusing history and design seamlessly. Their mechanical rhythms, contrasting with silent modern keyboards, evoke nostalgia and warmth. Olympia typewriters remain a poignant reminder of an era when each keystroke was a tangible dance of thoughts onto paper.

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