I was lucky at a German bay auction and got a Japy 50 portable. It came in its original case, quite used, a few things to clean an polish. Mechanically, it is sound, and alignment is still perfect, despite obvious heavy use in the past. The platen is rock hard, but hey, we can't have it call, can we.
What wasn't my surprise to see its serial number 20525. Why was I surprised? The Japy 50 is the same built as the Etoile. Both were Japy brands, but the typewriters were made in Switzerland by Paillard, and only sold by Japy in France. This was around 1934/35. Don't quote me on this, as research is ongoing. So what we have here are Swiss typewriter, traded in France. I will include them in my book on Swiss typewriters, of course.
Still, why was I surprised? The Japy / Etoile registered so far have serial numbers in the 50'000s and 51'000s. As this doesn't fit the Hermes 2000 numbering, it is safe to say that Japy got their own separate numbers. From the samples known so far we might deduce that "Japy" / "Japy 50" correspond to the 50'000s, followed by "Etoile" in the 51'000s. This would mean consecutive names.
Now, this new Japy specimen is number 20525. This would be a very early Hermes 2000 number - they started with 20'001 in 1933. I placed this next to a very early Hermes 2000 #22970 (built in 1934). And indeed: a perfect match.
So what we have here is an Japy with the original Hermes 2000 numbering. The very low number doesn't necessary mean Japys were sold as early as 1933. Rumour has it that Paillard used older stock for sale in France (for example, with the Hermes Baby S, sold ca. 1939, but with a much earlier construction). This might very well be the case here. It's fascinating to find a machine with a number so close to the production start, though.
The Japy / Etoile only differ in the round ribbon cover, the slightly raised top cover, a slightly differently shaped return lever, and the cover above the platen (including the metal paper support). The lids are identical with the ones used on the Hermes standard machines of the period. They are missing on my Japy, but I found a Hermes 3 to replace them (or at least borrow them for the photo shooting).