The typewriter in this review is a well used example made in Japan in 1971. It was purchased from a local charity shop and was in a pretty grubby condition. It has cleaned up nicely and with a new two colour ribbon it now types just the same as my 1977 Silverette which was as new when I bought it. Having used it now for over three years I thought I might write a short review of it. This same machine was produced under many different names and model numbers for both retail chains and other typewriter manufacturers over the years. The plastic looking casing is actually all metal as were all Silver Reed machines at this time. The only plastic was the cover which formed to make the carry case, these have sometimes been damaged and it is common to see these machines for sale minus the cover.
All the lightweight Silver Reed typewriters were made by Silver Seiko in Japan but some were assembled in the United Kingdom to get around the anti dumping legislation. There were many different versions but all had the same basic mechanics from the base Silverette to the top of the range models. The 200 was near the top end of the range lacking only the fixed tabulator which had a very limited application. It has a nice full top line set of keys which included the 1 and 0 numbers. The keyboard also boasts a decimal key, one of the few manufacturers to ever include this. The ribbon control has settings for red, black and stencils. It also has a touch control so often missing on portable machines and more often found on office and top of the line portable machines. There is provision for line drawing too. There is a graduated scale where the margins are adjusted and another on the paper bale which makes it a lot easier to adjust the paper. Line settings are for 0 (platen freewheels for line drawing) then one, two and three lines. It also sports a page support, again omitted on so many portables. So, all in all a pretty full set of specifications.
The early Silver Reed imports like the 200 did not fare too well in reviews of the day and yet in later years although the typewriters were exactly the same they were regarded much more highly often being recommended as best value for money. All the controls were in the usual places and the 200 loaded a top copy and two carbon copies without any problems. I rather doubt if anybody much uses carbon copies now, just the usual second sheet of paper as a backing sheet. Office machines were expected to handle up to six carbon copies and although this was really only a lightweight portable it would nevertheless handle the more usual top copy, one copy for office files and one for central filing which was more the norm when I worked in offices. The keyboards on all the Silver Reed machines are basically the same differing only on the number of keys on the top bank. They are pretty near the standard British Standards Institute standard for typewriter keyboards being quite flat and I found it very comfortable to touch type with for long periods without getting tired. I rather liked the light, crisp feel of the keys and the fairly short stroke found me naturally typing faster then I usually do with many other machines. I was not too enamoured with noise the typewriter makes, this is one loud machine and it needs the loud bell at the end of the line. This is something that it shares with the other models, they are all on the loud side. They all also have the same grating sound when returning the carriage which seems to be very common on other cheap machines like the Smith Corona Calypso. If you can put up with the racket fine but these are not typewriters to use late at night without keeping the family awake.
The 200 like other Silver Reed typewriters have stood the test of time and proved to be reliable workhorses that are truly portable. Considering they are of all metal construction they are still very lightweight and I have taken this typewriter on my travels on quite a few occasions. The only failings are the noise and the plastic carry case, neither of which are any worse than some other typewriters. These machines in various style and models were made for some twenty years. They were among the cheapest to buy when new at around £40 to £50 according to specification and there are an awful lot of them about. Currently all the Silver Reed models are starting to fetch rather a lot of money on auction sites like Ebay, around £40 to an eye watering £80 mainly those in bright colours like yellow and orange at weekends. With a little patience you should be able to pick one up for £5 or less at a car boot sale and I really wouldn’t pay more than £10 even on a mid week Ebay auction. I paid £4.50 at a charity shop, a Silverette for £3 at a car boot sale and recently £2.10 on Ebay! You probably would not want more than one though. There are far better lightweight portables about but this gets the job done just the same.