Gold Royal Quiet de Luxe
1950 - 1957
Royal Typewriter Co. Inc.
Hartford, CT, US
These early 1950s Royal typewriters were the second design change to the company's portables line since emerging from WWII. They are a slightly rounder version of the Gray Magic portables first patented in 1945 by industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss (1904 - 1972). In 1947 Royal began plating some of the Gray Magic models in gold but this option was only available for custom, made-to-order typewriters. With the new 1950s models, yes, some were custom ordered with gold plating, too, but there is evidence that others were also produced in series.
Sir Ian Lancaster Fleming (1908 - 1964), author of all those fantastic James Bond spy novels and enthusiast of all things gold, famously owned one of these 1950s gold plated Royal Quiet de Luxe (QDL) typewriters. Fleming custom ordered his in 1952. The cost was $174 at the time and decades later, at a 1995 Christie's auction, Fleming's very own typewriter sold for $89,144, a record price at the time. That's one heck of a mark up! Custom QDLs came with an optional engraved tag of the owner's name in place of the regular insignia found on their paper tables - instant provenance.
Royal also offered these gold versions as contest prizes to high-schoolers. Students had to write and submit a short essay titled "What I think about my home town." The contest was actually just a marketing ploy to drive customers into Royal's shops because all essays had to be signed by an authorized dealer. Surely, when the eager teenagers dragged their parents to the dealerships to submit their essays, the dealer would begin pitching a sale to those parents. This marketing campaign leads me to believe that Royal, having predetermined how many they would give away, most likely made some in series but without the custom engraved name plate.
For those of us without $89K to spare, gold QDLs in excellent condition are much more affordable than Fleming's record-setter. If condition isn't a factor (like rubbed off gold plating) then these have been known to sell for as little as $125. It's also fair to note that the gold tends to rub off easily because Royal opted for cheap plating.
(see what inspired these gold QDL's here...)