Sunday, May 20th, 2012

I’m on the hunt for a typewriter just like Dad’s. It was almost certainly the first typewriter I ever used. I don’t know how young I was when he let me hunt and peck on it, but I remember the day he told he me didn’t want me to do that any more. He wanted me to learn how to touch-type before I used his or any other typewriter. I asked him what that meant, so he sat down at the typewriter, locked eyes with me and started typing without looking at the keys! I couldn’t wait to learn how to touch-type.

image of the wrong Royal Quiet De LuxeDad’s typewriter was a Royal Quiet De Luxe that dated from the 1950s. I ran across a photo of it a long time ago while I was looking for an image of another Royal typewriter, and an exclamation point appeared over my head. “Hey! That’s Dad’s typewriter!” Squinting at the tiny thumbnail image, I could make out “Quiet De Luxe” across the back where the paper went in. A quick google search for “royal quiet de luxe” got a whole rank and file of photos to pop up of typewriters that looked just like Dad’s.

Only they weren’t. There was something wrong with just about all of them. For a start, quite a lot of them had green keys. I was pretty sure Dad’s didn’t have green keys. I remembered gray keys with with white letters. And I was positive that the ribbon selector levers on Dad’s machine were surrounded by chrome doodads with little wings sticking out either side. Most of the Royals in the images were wingless.

I cross-checked my memory with my brother’s. He probably spent as much time as I did batting away at that little Royal, so I figured he might remember some of the same details, even if the last time we saw them was almost thirty years ago. He did the same thing I did: googled some images, and sent me the one that looked like the Royal he remembered.

image of a Royal Quiet De Luxe 1950sThis isn’t the image he sent me, but it looks like the Quiet De Luxe we both remember. I’m using this image because the machine’s matte gray finish in this photo looks a lot more like my memory of Dad’s typewriter. Also, I couldn’t help geeking out over the key tension gauge in the left corner under the cover that I completely forgot about until I saw it again here.

Once I was pretty sure what Dad’s typewriter looked like, I started winnowing through the items for sale on e-bay and, wouldn’t you know it, Dad’s typewriter is one of the most sought-after Royal portables by typewriter collectors. Either that, or it’s the most hugely overvalued ever. Bidding starts at fifty bucks and shoots up from there. I’m looking for one that starts at something like ninety-nine cents and maxes out around ten bucks. Free shipping would be nice, too. I haven’t found either yet. Of course, I’ve only been looking for a week, and maybe it was the week that people were going nuts over Royal portables. Next week one might go for ninety-nine cents. That’s e-bay, sometimes.

image of a Royal Quiet De Luxe 1940sA previous incarnation of the Quiet De Luxe made in the 1940s had what are sometimes referred to as “glass keys” because they’re covered with mica and rimmed with chrome. These are very cool and I’ll probably end up getting one of these some day, too.

But I mention the keys because this older version and the one Dad used had a common design feature: their keys aren’t round. They have flat bottoms, and in my search of blogs for more information about this particular typewriter, I ran across the term “tombstone keys” to describe these. That seals the deal right there: I have to own at least one typewriter with tombstone keys!

Dad’s typewriter | 9:38 am CDT
Category: entertainment, hobby, play, typewriters
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