The T-Bone Speaks and I listen: 1941 Royal Companion

Edit: I’ve been looking for Royal ads from 1933 to see if I can get some kind of visual confirmation that the “Companion” model with stripes was available then. I found this 1933 ad that shows the “Portable” and “Signet” lines, but not the Companion. anyone have what I need?

Turns out Ryan Adney may be right, and all our serial number lists are wonk. He’s found this ad from a 1941 LIFE magazine that matches my Companion perfectly, suggesting a manufacture date somewhere in the early 40’s:

Edit Again: Yup, it looks like I was dyslexic or something and the 1933 is a misdate. When I’m not dyslexic, this machine dates on the NOMDA list as 1941, and Ryan’s find of a Royal Companion ad from a 1941 LIFE magazine locks it down.

Updated: September 18, 2020 — 1:10 pm


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  1. I was half expecting pics of a steak dinner. Duh.

    Nice find. A nailed platen? How curious is that.

  2. Good job, T-Bone. It’s like dowsing for “typerwriters.”

  3. My recent Royal purchase – which is an older machine than this, has a Nailed platen too. And yes, it has a wooden core. Richard Polt explained to me recently that this was actually how they were made.

    1. yep, on closer examination, there are 3 nails holding the platen rubber to the core, equidistant from each other around 1/4″ away from the right side of the platen – so clearly a wooden core. I’d just never seen it before on any of my other machines. I wonder if it was a cost-cutting move for depression-era machines.

      Luckily, the platen has no cracks or splits, and the rubber, while hardened, is not chipped or overly worn.

  4. Congratulations! The typewriter is a very nice typewriter. I have one of similar age with a split platen. Yes, the core is wood.

  5. Great find! It’s reassuring to know that some thrift stores still charge reasonable prices for typewriters. I would definitely pay $30 for a machine like your “new” Royal.

    Thrift store pricing seems so capricious and unpredictable, depending whether or not the staff is internet-savvy. The outrageously high prices one can see may be the result of researching sold items on eBay.

    There seems to be a glut of SCM electric machines in the thrift stores lately. I paid $5, $10 & $15 for typewriters of this ilk last year at this time, and recently I am seeing them priced at LEAST $10-15 higher.

    1. The patterns of what’s available in thrift stores over the last 2 years is kind of fascinating – last year at this time, I was seeing (and buying) lots of 1960’s-era SCM’s for $5-$15, but this year all those SCMs have vanished. They’ve been replaced by either nothing at all or great old machines like that Corona 4 or this Royal Companion. The prices have risen, but the selection I’m getting has thinned out and is much more interesting.

      Luckily, this suits my present collecting phase. When I walked into that store yesterday, I was saying to myself: “I’m not getting any machine I won’t love – I’m not getting a machine I won’t lo…” and there was the Royal. :D

  6. Ted, I couldn’t help but be happy and a little jealous of your find. I went to our local goodwil last weekend and I did find four typewriters, but they were not anything very special. I found a: Wheelwriter 3, SCM Portable Electric(Model 250?), Smith-Corona daisywheel, and a Brother word processor with 1.44MB floppy drive. At $7 the SCM was a good buy, but I have more than a few electrics and I only want desktop electrics.

    The Companion looks really good, but I wonder if NOMDA is off about the dates. I recall companions like this being from the late 30s and early 40s. I think I read on Robert’s blog that they portables were Dreyfuss designs. I wanted to make sure so I checked an old copy of life from 1940, and there was the Companion.

    They might have been produced that far back, but if you look at early 30s Royals they tend to have that more wedge shape. I, of course, might be completely wrong.It’s still a great typewriter.

    1. hmmn, looks like the 1940 life magazine ad for Royals show models with the same body design but no stripes. As I mentioned, TW-DB has no CD prefix serials or dates, and NOMDA lists the “Companion” model under two different serial number series, with different prefixes:

      The RF and F prefix Companions date against the first column of serials, and the CD prefix dates against the second column. Since there is reasonable doubt, I checked the Remington line list of Royal serial numbers (obtained from Richard Polt) which has a single list of dated serials for Royal Portables that suggests #226351 was made in late 1930. This agrees with the first column of the NOMDA list, but makes no mention of prefixes, so I discount it somewhat in that I’m pretty sure (from 2 sources) that this particular serial number list (first column of NOMDA, the Remington Line List and the “corrected” TW-DB) applies only to the O, OT, C, B and A prefix models.

      Digging further and checking Beeching, his numbers roughly correlate the other sources for Royal portables with those prefixes, but completely omit the CD prefix machines. Bliven’s book would have been real handy if he’d included a table of serial numbers supplied by royal in 1954, but that didn’t happen.

      That’s about all the sources for Royal serials I know about, and the NOMDA list is the only one that includes data for the CD prefix model. If we go by any of these lists, it dates to 1930 with the exception of the second-column NOMDA list which suggests 1933. I think if we find more magazine ads of different vintage, we could nail it down for sure. Note that the NOMDA list does show the CD-prefix Companion model being manufactured up till 1942, so it could be that the LIFE magazine ad shows a 1940 Companion (minus the stripes of the earlier model).

      We may never know for sure, but it is quite fun digging up info to try to narrow down the actual manufacturing dates for these machines. I’m absolutely open to new data that could clarify the situation as well. (:

      1. So, I found this one:

        Down near the bottom, there are the stripes. That’s all I could find with Life. Have you thought any more about the visual typewriter database? I love this investigation part of typewriter collecting.

        1. yeah, this is fun! Looks like you found a perfect match, but I dunno what it means in terms of our serial number lists – this suggests they may be off by as much as a decade for some models. :P

          Also, yes – I have a plan for this winter that includes helping Bill organize his shop and cataloging some of his machines so he knows what he has laying around, and also working more on the Visual Database. My personal living situation has just stabilized somewhat more than it has been all these past 2 years. Look for fun updates to that site either in Nov (if I ignore nanowrimo) or jan/feb of ’13.

  7. oh, you know what? The NOMDA list is exactly right, but I was reading my machines serial number as 5 digits instead of 6 digits. #226351 is 1941 exactly. (DOH!) :P

    1. Just bought one for $25 exactly like yours. Found out through an article it may be a 1929 Royal Companion. Pictures are exactly what I have. Hope this may be helpful

    1. yeah, they’re pretty tiny machines in real life. My space bar seems to be fine on mine, at least for my style of typing. I’ve had no problems with it.

  8. Ted, I’ve submitted like 5 comments now and none seems to show up here – any chance they all got stuck in the spam filter? If they did, just “free” the very first one and kill the others.

    1. yep, it was in spam, prolly because of the big link over most of the text. I’ve approved it now. (:

      1. Thanks.
        I see, I somehow misunderstood the proper use of the “a href”-Tag which I found in the description.

  9. Does that put mine in 1929 or 1930? CD 155731.

  10. looks like 1940 for CD-155731

    1. I thought that ’29 or ’30 was way too early. I always thought mine was an early 40s machine. I did not see the second column of 6 digit serial numbers starting with 1……


      BTW this will be a machine that will be getting a JJ Short platen after the holiday season. (promised Ms. a big screen TV)

  11. Nice catch! My last hunch was a dead end. I’m glad your instincts are serving you well.

    I checked my Signet and verified that there is a nail holding the rubber in place. The 1932 vogue machine has no visible nails.

    The thrift shops in my area have been slim pickings. There are a few daisy wheel machines and a couple ’70s SCMs with the silly ribbon cartridges. I did score a functional electric SCM 12 with the script typeface for $8 last week. That made me happy. A local antique mall has a 1958 Remington Quiet Riter in time capsule condition with a soft platen for $45. It isn’t sexy, but it is tempting for something that doesn’t need a platen relining.

    1. Ahh, a Quiet-Riter. $45 seems a bit steep, but then a new platen alone would cost you more than that. If it would make you happy, I could see it being worth it. (:

  12. Connie Galvin Smith

    Hi…wondering if this is still a working website. I have a vintage Royal Companion with stripes. I’m wondering if anyone might be interested in it. It works great. The ribbon needs to be replaced. Where might I find a new one? Thanks!!

    1. Still works. (:
      ribbon can be found anywhere: ebay, etsy, amazon, staples, whatever. it’s just a standard typewriter spool ribbon. Just keep your original spools, though – especially if they’re metal, and spool the new ribbon onto those. Ribbons come on cheap plastic reels now. Also, don’t by black/white correction ribbon. That makes a nasty mess in your machine.

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