19 Mar 2014

100 typewriter typefaces compared

It just happened that I currently have 100 type specimens scanned at 200dpi, which is a perfect number for an analysis of typewriter typefaces. These have all been taken from typewriters either in my collection, formerly in my collection, or other opportunities I have taken.

Depending on how your browser renders png images and how fast your connection is, it might be best to wait a few seconds for the page to load before scrolling down.

elite and smaller typefaces

pica and larger typefaces

Measuring width only, the Adler Contessa's Pica is the largest pica in my collection, and my Hermes 3000's Director Pica is the smallest. The Olympia SM9's Congress Elite is the largest elite and the Hermes 3000's Director Elite is the smallest. For these comparisons, I am not including the Piclite typeface used on many Brother machines because it really is neither pica nor elite. The difference between the largest elite and smallest pica is actually smaller than the difference found among elite typefaces.

The typefaces you see do not represent the complete range of sizes that were available. I only have 14cpi to 6cpi typefaces, but 21cpi, 17cpi, and 5cpi typewriters were produced, as well as 9cpi and 8cpi typefaces which I have none of.

German typewriters tend to have the largest type, Italian typewriters also have large type, American typewriters have smaller type, but the smallest is found on Hermes typewriters. Japanese typewriters are not represented well enough here to make a conclusion for them.

I have solved the grey cast problem—I am now saving my typecasts as 256 color png files.

Sent from 100 typewriters.


  1. Wow! That is fantastic work. I still refer to one of your old pages quite often for typeface information.

    I really like the typeface of that Corona Mill. I never saw a C like that one.

    1. Thanks! I've got a bit of a sore hand from it (holding down the shift key with one finger and using the touchpad with the same hand isn't very good for you) but it was well worth it.

      Ahhh no that old page needs to be taken down. Problem is, I've lost the password so I can't do anything about it. XD

      It is a fantastic C indeed.

  2. Oh my goodness. Good job on collecting all those type samples!
    Very jealous of your Olympia, waiting for one to pass my way that is for me :)
    Thanks for sharing this Nick :D

  3. A very useful collection. It's interesting to see the wide range of "picas" and "elites."

  4. Wow! Just... wow! I still haven't figured out the typefaces yet. When is it called what and why? I guess I just look at what I like or not. This is really cool to watch.

  5. thank you so much for posting this!

  6. Another appreciation post: this is truly useful. It suggests a useful enhancement for typewriterdatabase.com: when listing "galleries" (typewriters), it would be interesting to have the option of displaying the typeface specimen, when present, from each gallery, either scaled to fit or a cropped portion.

    Question: the blue vertical lines at 0" and 1" are very useful: great idea! I can't seem to figure out the purpose of the other blue verticals. Do their positions correspond to some type of average within each of the typeface classifications?

    1. This is pretty close to what you're thinking of: http://typewriterdatabase.com/typefaces.php

      The other blue lines show the widest and narrowest typefaces in each group.

  7. Thank you for posting this. It is great to see the differences laid out so clearly. I have an Olympia SG3 with 17 cpi (and loads of issues). This is the first time I've seen that size mentioned. Do you have any idea what such need such small typeface was produced to fill?

  8. I see you didn't have your Erikas at this time. I often want to buy an Olivetti Lettera 22 just for its font...