Monday, May 30, 2011

Royal Goes to War

In honor of Memorial Day I wanted to look back into Royal's war-time advertising past.

Royal's wartime advertising is interesting. Shortly after war was declared the company followed the tenor of the nation and ran patriotic advertisements. The first two full-page ads (below) come from early 1942 and are the most overtly patriotic. As time went on, though, Royal knew that it must keep its product line in the mind of a population who couldn't buy them. The war stretched on and the Royal's advertising changed focus from patriotic populism to helpful and informational ads. The remainder of the ads I have posted are these information type. In the middle of the war Royal started pushing their Roytype ribbons and carbons. I am sure that management knew that they could not count on war profits forever. They would need to grow the business in the only way they could until production picked up after the war.

This push for revenue from accessories is not seen from Smith-Corona. Smith-Corona did run wartime advertisement, but the tone of SC's work was more patriotic throughout the war. They did not work on the pushing branded accessories and authorized repair centers. I don't even know if SC had their own ribbon and carbon paper brand.

Regardless, the efforts of Royal's Madison Ave. wizards must have paid off because Royal was very successful after the war. They were so successful, that McBee, Litton, and Olivetti all purchased the company albeit at different phases in its history.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dear Typosphere

Of course, you can still find this blog at the old address

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Time-Honored Concern

In a 1916 article from the magazine America, there is a summary of an argument made by Mr. Thomas L. Masson in a paper he wrote for another magazine called Bookman. His idea is that if Milton used a typewriter to write "Lycidas" or "Hymn on the Nativity", these poems would not be as good. Pen and paper, apparently, are the only way for an author to slow down and revise. It's fine to use the typewriter to "conform more closely to our modern standards of orthography" but the use of one for composition is met with the invective, "Perish the thought!"

The author of the column also concludes that the current dearth of quality literature in America is due to the number of authors who use a typewriter for composition. (Start reading from "That fatal...")

The entire idea of this blog is that the typewriter is an excellent way to compose writing. I (and others) actually believe that it is the superior way to compose writing. The computer marks a "crisis in the history of letters." With the speed of creativity no one takes time to slow down and work on writing. Revision is passe'. The typewriter offers a way for an author to select words carefully without the harsh distraction of the modern computer. Well, reading this column I can see that the concern over the typewriter edging out the traditional way of writing was a concern to early twentieth-century litterati.

The goal of my Classroom Typewriter Project has been to show that the physical act of writing on a typewriter allows a writer to focus. And through that focus become a better writer. In the teens there was a similar concern:

Is it natural that every iteration of technology causes people to worry about losing some ineffable quality of an older method? Did writing strike fear in the heart of the Chavet-Pond-d'Arch painter? Did movable type strike fear in the heart of the Lindsfarne monks?

If you want to read the entire on, Macduff!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Typewriter Bites Man, Circa 1943

I found this in an old Saturday Evening Post. I wonder what the machine the story is referencing? I think it might be a Williams, but I am sure there were a number of machines that used an ink pad. What's more frightening is how modern this experience sounds.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Royal Gravitas

I have been thinking about the Royal Model O that I posted about Sunday evening. I am an unapologetic Royal fan. I have alluded to this before, but it wasn't until the Model O came into the collection that I have really come to an understanding of what makes Royal so special.

Royal, as a company, never set the world on fire with any feature. If the ads that Royal ran in Life are any indication, Magic Margin (after which this blog is named) was their proudest accomplishment. That's a little sad because I have always felt that Royal's margin system was a little over-designed and far from the greatest addition to the world of typewriters. It's more magical if you could figure out how it works. Touch-Control might pop your mind as being something entirely special, but key tension adjustment can be found on many typewriters of the time. It's not the styling that marks them unique. Every industrial designer at Royal must have shopped at the same Brooks Brothers because there is nothing daring about any Royal design. Even when daring is attempted it's done as if someone had suggested that cocktails be served a three instead of four. Scandalous! No there is something else that makes the Royal special.

That "it" factor is gravitas. Royals are weighty. Serious. They are as frivolous as a chartered accountant. You can ever go wrong with a Royal and if you do it's your own fault for not being serious enough. As seen in the advertisement from a 1942 Life, Royal's and serious things like war are synonymous. Would you want some little Smith-Corona or a pipsqueak Underwood doing war business? I don't think so.

Next time you find a Royal in a thrift store, don't discount it because of some fictional (yes, I refuse to believe the problem exists) escapement problems. They are wonderful serious machines.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Model O Gallery

So, the other typewriter that I received this weekend was a beautiful model O. It's in great shape too and even came with the original instruction booklet. (I'll scan it soon.) It works well and has a very small typeface. Enjoy these photos.

Even includes a mint instruction booklet.
Nice decal.

Clean, modern keytops.

My good side.

In situ.