Ahh, the Royal Quiet De Luxe, AKA the “QDL” or the “Model A”. It’s the most popular typewriter among the TWDB’s Typewriter Hunter members by the number of galleries entered (100+ so far). The TWDB’s Royal Serial Number page is also the most popular page on the site by a long shot, among those users who float in via search engines, if you don’t count the home page. “Royal Quiet De Luxe” is the second most popular search term that drives traffic to the site, except the term “Typewriter database” itself. So, one could say the Royal Quiet De Luxe is the most popular typewriter in the world at the moment.
But what do we really know about it? I’ve spent parts of the past week analyzing the gallery entries for Royal Portables and comparing them to our serial number lists, and I was surprised to find out that well over half of the Royal portables were misfiled or misdated, despite the fact that we had a good age list for all but the last 17 years of portable production. Today, I pretty much spent all day here at my desk fixing every one of them, over 200 galleries in all. In the process, I learned quite a bit about the production history of the Royal portables – enough to put together with a few MTE inventory records and a fresh look at the 1962 Herstallungdaten and come up with a more unified age list that clarifies the evolution of the Portable, from the first Model P in 1926 all the way to the very final incarnation of the true Royal Portable, the Sabre of 1969.
So, before we get to the QDL (tomorrow, prolly), we will start with the first of the ancestors of the QDL: the Royal Model P.
As we see above, the Model P is popular with collectors, so we have a nice selection, that when arranged properly, gives a nice overview of the variations of the “P”. No big surprises, though – the first of those comes in the transition between the “P” and “O” models.
Below are the “O” models. One of the things I see now as I put this blog post together is that someone has entered the same serial numbered machine with two vastly different photos for 1932. I think we can disregard the second one.
At first, the “O” model really doesn’t look all that different than an older “P” model. I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference without looking at the serial number prefix. But in 1935, the shell is redesigned and streamlined. Things pretty much stay the same until 1938, when the Model “O” runs concurrently with the new Models “A” and “B”. The “A” model, is of course the prototype of the QDL: the “De Luxe”. We’ll get to that in a moment. Next let’s take a look at the “A” Model’s sister, the “B” Model. Here’s another surprise: the 1938 “proto-Aristocrat” looks very much like a Model “O”. It’s only in 1939 that the Model “B” gets a facelift and a real name…By 1939, the Aristocrat is pretty much identical to the newly-launched QDL, other than nameplate and a bit less soundproofing. The Model “B” then represents the “Standard Portable” replacement of the Model “O” in the Royal line, while the Model “A” represents a new luxury offering, starting in late 1935 with the “De Luxe”:The “De Luxe” Model “A” remains in the Royal lineup until 1938, when it is joined in the Royal lineup by the “Quiet” Model “A”, for one brief year. So, in 1938, Royal was offering the Model “O”, the Model “B” (which was basically the Model “O”), and two versions of the Model “A”.Then, in 1939, the two “A” Models are combined into the “Quiet De Luxe” and the “B” Model becomes a slightly stripped version of the new re-designed “A” Model. But, we’ll get to that tomorrow in Part 2…