1950s Royal Quiet de Luxe
1950 - 1957
Royal Typewriter Company, Inc.
Hartford, Connecticut, 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. Advertisements 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 the very thread of our collective nostalgia, which has in turn propelled these typewriters, especially the brightly colored examples, to icon status.
Royal began producing these in 1950 with 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.
As stated, the QDLs of the early 1950s were originally finished only in gray with a rough texture. 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. Smith-Corona, Underwood and Remington (oddly, just the US made brands) were all manufacturing 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. Eventually Royal would begin offering the QDLs in vibrant colors.
The colors: charcoal, gray, yellow, blue, green and pink. These were the vibrant (mostly) colors finally offered in 1955. Of these, the gray finish was always finished with rough texture while the others were glossy and smooth. Soon after, gray was added with a smooth finishes along with red and white. Gold plated QDLs were also available either by custom order or if you were lucky enough to win one (more on gold QDLs here...). Interestingly, 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.
It was during the winter of 1907 when the first wing of Royal's new Hartford, Connecticut factory was completed and production had begun transitioning to there from Brooklyn. Almost exactly fifty years later, during December of 1957 and in the era when these QDLs were produced, Connecticut's Governor Abraham A. Ribicoff publicly congratulated Royal-McBee (Royal had merged with McBee in 1954) on producing its ten-millionth typewriter. Sadly, the Quiet de Luxe would be the last line of portables to be made in that factory or in The State of Connecticut. Production had already begun transitioning once again. This time to a newly renovated, state-of-the-art facility in Springfield, Missouri designed specifically for the manufacture of Royal's portables.
A former employee of the Harford facility told me that the move "...was the writing on the wall." He was right. The portables move shut down the entire fourth floor of the factory in Hartford. Eventually, 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. It is now a supermarket center named The Royal Plaza.
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