Gray Magic


 1945 - 1950

Royal Typewriter Co. Inc.

Hartford, Connecticut, US


After WWII, Royal had to convert its factory back to producing typewriters and rather than military item for the war. The "Gray Magic" line of portable and standard typewriters would be the first new models produced after the transition. Gray Magic was a general designation that referenced the typewriters' gray aesthetic as well as Royal's patented "Magic Margin" feature. As stated, standards and portables, like the Quiet de Luxe (QDL) and Arrow on this page, all fell under the Gray Magic umbrella.

Of the portable models, two were offered: a fully-loaded QDL and a stripped down Arrow. Several color combinations were available over the few years that these two were produced... as long as the combinations were variations of gray and black. The bright colors once available with the 1920s & '30s typewriters wouldn't be available again until the 1950s portables were produced. Gold plated models, however, were available as early as 1947. Today, gold variants pop up for sale from time to time and are worth a few bucks more than the gray.

Credited for the new look of Royal's portables line was famed industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss (1904 - 1972). Dreyfuss had already developed products for such recognizable brands as Western Electric, Hoover and John Deere. Now he was tapped to design a typewriter that could "add grace to any room." In 1945, Dreyfuss filed a design patent for Royal's new portable (patent no.D144,164).

Of his style, it has has often been written that Dreyfuss concentrated more on the design's practical effectiveness and less on infusion of style. The fact is, as anthropometric and ergonomic as Dreyfuss' designs may have been, they were still highly stylized and screamed of Streamline Moderne influence. Just look towards the NYCRR Mercury locomotive and the John Deere tractors that he designed for proof. In fact, these Gray Magic typewriters seems to teeter between a Streamline Moderne aesthetic and a Frank Lloyd Wright-esque Mid Century Modern style.

So what of the typewriter? Does it work well? In my opinion, it's a great typer! It has a nice touch and it's quite stable. The typebars respond swiftly to the Finger-Flow Keys of the keyboard. The Magic Margin feature is easy to use once you master it, but be careful because those spring loaded margins can be easily tripped. The QDL and Arrow were built tough for decades of worry free use.

Need a User's Manual for your Gray Magic portable typewriter. Get it here... 

Questions? Comments? Maybe you have a gold plated QDL for sale? Please email me at