Royal Models O, A & de Luxe
1935 - 1939
Royal Typewriter Company, Inc.
Hartford, Connecticut, US
In 1927 Royal was late to the party with its first market-ready portable typewriter. However, Royal's tardiness wasn't a reflection on the quality of its work. The portable typewriters the company produced quickly gained substantial market share which was further bolstered in 1935 with the introduction of the models on this page; the Royal Standard portables (a.k.a the Model O and Model A) and the Royal de Luxe. The progression of the 1935 design from an overly produced Art Deco concept to the more streamlined production model is most interesting to me.
The company produced its first portable about seven years after Underwood, thirteen years after Remington and almost twenty years after Corona had. The first few models were very friendly and aesthetically pleasing, but overall very boxy. Then, in 1935, a new design was introduced. It was the Royal Standard portable; a curvier, sexier departure available in a variety of beautiful finishes. Just one year later, in 1936, a de Luxe version with distinctive chrome bands was added to the line. The new designs helped the company outsell most of its competition, solidify its market standing and eventually lead to the total dominance over all of its competition through the 1950s.
Inventors Bernard Joseph Dowd (1873 - 1946) and Henry Joseph Hart (1898 - 19??) were issued a patent in 1934 (patent no.1,985,155) for a new design to Royal's portables. Most noticeably it called for three ornamental, corrugated, chrome bands that screamed of Art Deco influence, but it wouldn't be the final design. In April of 1934 three more patents were filed for the typewriter's casing by designers Clarence H. Bills and John J. Kittle. Each design was less stylized than the previous, and still not to be the final iteration. Then a fourth patent was filed in May of 1934 by original designer-inventors Dowd and Hart for a much less ornamental casing without the chrome bands. Finally, Dowd's and Hart's latest effort would be produced. One can only wonder if there's a prototype of a rejected design tucked away in an attic somewhere.
As stated, Royal began selling the Standard Portable in 1935. These had a Royal decal on the paper table and a serial number that began with the letter "O" or "A". They were available in black, purple, green, olive, yellow, red, brown and maroon. The de Luxe base model came in black, crinkle finish with two solid chrome bands and a raised badge on the paper table reading "Royal de Luxe." Other color options were also available (the model I have in stainless steel at the top of this page seems to be an undocumented one-off). The de Luxe also had a tabulating system. All models came with a Touch-Control mechanism and glass-top keyboard with "Finger Comfort Keys." These typewriters were produced in Hartford, Connecticut until 1939 when Royal's portables were once again redesigned.
Need an instruction manual for your Royal Model O, A or de Luxe? Get it here...