Royal Quiet de Luxe (1950s)
1950 - 1957
Royal Typewriter Co., Inc.
Hartford, CT, US
In 1950 Royal introduced a redesigned Quiet de Luxe model (QDL) for the second time in just five years after WWII. The first version, patented in 1945, was developed by industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss (1904 - 1972) and was part of Royal's Gray Magic line. The second version, the one on this page, expanded on that Dreyfuss model but with modernity inspired softer, rounder corners meant to rejuvenate Royal's stalwart portable typewriter.
Classic 1950s Americana, that's what these typewriters have come to represent. Ads often included stylish modern women, dependable dads, sock-hop teens and studious students happily plucking away on their QDLs. Today these images seem to pull at a particular thread of our nostalgia, which has in turn has propelled these typewriters, especially the brightly colored examples, to icon status.
Royal began producing these in 1950 in a gray matte finish at first. It is also worth mentioning that Royal produced models such as the Aristocrat, Arrow, Companion and Speed King with a similar body style but with various mechanical options. These other models were alternatives for the budget conscious consumer as long as that consumer was willing to sacrifice a feature or two features that would have been standard on the top-tier QDLs.
Some of the drabbest typewriters ever produced were made during those first few years of the 1950s and Royal wasn't the only company guilty of this. All the US brands, like Smith-Corona, Underwood and Remington, were producing typewriters with similar rough-textured and muted gray or brown tones. That's not to say these typewriters weren't phenomenal writing machines, on the contrary. Royals and Smith-Coronas in particular were some of the best typewriters ever built for daily use. They were just boring. Eventually Royal would begin offering QDLs in vibrant colors.
The colors: charcoal, gray, yellow, blue, green and pink. These were the (mostly) vibrant colors first offered in 1955. Of these, the gray was the only finished in matte while the others were glossy, but a glossy gray was finally added when red and white were also added to the lineup. Gold plated QDLs were available either by custom order or if you were lucky enough to win one (more on gold QDLs here...). The suggested retail price for the brightly colored models was the same as the gray, $142.83, though I suspect dealers didn't discount them as much. Gold plated models sold for $175. These QDLs were massively successful and ensured Royal's position as the global leader of portable typewriters after WWII.
Royal's new Hartford-based factory was completed in the winter of 1907 to which production began transitioning immediately from Brooklyn, NY. Almost exactly fifty years later, in December of 1957 and in the era when these QDLs were produced, Connecticut's Governor Abraham A. Ribicoff publicly congratulated Royal on producing its ten-millionth typewriter. Sadly, the QDL would be the last line of portables to come from that Hartford factory. Production was again transitioning to a newly renovated, state-of-the-art factory in Springfield, Missouri even as Ribicoff was making his statement. The Springfield facility was designed specifically for the manufacture of Royal's new portable, the Futura.
A former employee of the Harford facility told me that the transfer of the portable typewriters production "...was the writing on the wall." He was right. The portables move shut down the entire fourth floor of the factory in Hartford, and, by 1972, all of the work was transitioned elsewhere. The factory stood mostly vacant for almost two decades until it burned to the ground in 1992. The area where the factory once stood is now a supermarket center named The Royal Plaza.