Friday, September 28, 2012

A Rare Bird - Royal Quiet de Luxe

(The images below are all taken with my phone camera, so I thought I would continue the grainy theme on the typecast as well.)

First up, the case. I knew this would be interesting because while I realized it was a typewriter case straight away, I did not know which typewriter it contained. Now, at this stage in the game, there are very few typewriters I do not recognize, so that was immediately intriguing.

And here she is! Beautiful, clean, but what language is that? Thai was my best guess.

A closer look at the keyboard - beautiful, really, but absolutely impractical for me.

The funny thing is that this is the same thrift store where I scored my Arabic Olivetti Lettera 32 two years ago (since given away to a friend who actually speaks the language!). Amazing how such rare birds can find their way to an obscure shop in Geneva.

Alas, while that one cost me only CHF 10 - pocket change, and cheap enough to justify bringing it home to take pictures - this one was going for CHF 25... not exactly an impulse purchase. Oh, well. I wonder if someone else will snap it up - it is quite decorative, at the very least!

Fortunately, the thrift store was rather abandoned and I took full advantage to get a few pictures from all angles, so my curiosity and desire for documentation is satisfied. What do you think of this little gem?

27 comments:

  1. What an unusual find. My best guess (based on a Google search) is that it's Serbian Cyrillic script. When I was in Israel, I was tempted to buy a Hebrew typewriter from a Jerusalem-based ebay seller but like you, I was not quite interested on a machine I would not really use.

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  2. You have a stronger will than I do. I would have bought it in a heartbeat. Initially, I thought it might be Tamil or Burmese or Hindi, but I really have no idea. Wiser omiglots out there might know, but I think it's a nice machine. That body style is one I do not have. I have earlier and later, but I don't have one in the late 40s body style.

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  3. Oh wow! That's a beautiful machine - I especially like that spacebar! - but you are right, that keyboard renders it pretty much useless. It's amazing how many machines with exotic keyboards you seem to find in Geneva, maybe that's because it's a UN headquarter?

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  4. Wow wow wow! That's very cool.

    It's not Thai. I'm guessing Armenian.

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  5. It is beautiful and I probably would have bought it to use decoratively! I have only recently begun to buy typewriters, and have not got room at all, but it is a fascinating world and your blog is very interesting and informative. Unlike Geneva, where you seem to stumble across them all the time I have never seen one in a charity shop here. I have three from ebay and one from a boot fair-the cheapest one and the one I like the best because, as you said in a post a while ago it involves a memory-having talked to the woman I bought it from both when I went in and when I left the market, and having been to Pimlico for the market, and the lucky chance that I found a typewriter when I was looking for one!

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  6. I just brought home this one's English twin yesterday! Same paint and all!

    No clue on the language, but I probably would have bought it anyway, just because it's novel and unfamiliar. Then again, I'll use any excuse to buy a typer...

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  7. OMG! I would've snapped it up, but I love that particular year/style of QDLs and would want it just for the mysterious writing I could put into blog posts. Heck, I'm wrestling with myself right now on whether I ought to entice you to pick it up for me, but the price and shipping would reach upwards of $200 US I imagine, and that would be a serious sock to the pocketbook right now. :P

    Anyway, WOW! :D

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  8. PS: I always wonder about what the shift key does on keyboards like this. Do they have the exact same character engraved on each typehammer position for every key except the 9 keys that have 2 symbols on them?

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  9. What fun reading all your guesses! I checked out the virtual Armenian keyboard and I think Richard may have nailed it... how he did it so quickly, I'll never know. Just as well I left it behind, then, I don't know any Armenian speakers who would appreciate it. Still, it is the perfect present for a collector with a variety of exotic keyboard typewriters... like Mr. Polt!

    @Ton: How does one even go about a Google search? That was what I wondered when I saw this...

    @Ryan: I was very tempted too, but thankfully, it wore off. A few deep breaths, a few pictures, and I was off on my merry way. Glad you liked the post!

    @Florian: Yes, perhaps the UN has something to do with it. It is really quite cool - I have come across Arabic, Russian, Turkish, Greek, and now Armenian. An impressive melting pot!

    @Richard: Nice guess! I don't have any Armenian readers who will confirm it for sure, but I think you're right.

    @Sarah: Welcome to the blog! I am glad you have been going through the archives and finding helpful posts. I think if I was at an earlier stage in my collecting I would have brought this home for sure, but I am already haunted by too many idle keyboards as it is... this would quickly join that contingent.

    @A.R.M.S.: What a fine coincidence! In a way I am glad this wasn't an English keyboard because I don't think I would have been able to resist! Besides, this makes a much more fascinating topic... some unusual eye candy.

    @Ted: I was waiting for someone to say that, to give me an excuse to go back and get this. And then play with it for a little while before shipping it off :) But you are right, it will cost just about $200... and then what would you do with it after a few inscrutable typecasts? :P Oh, and I would imagine the shift keys work the same as in English - there were upper and lower case characters on the type slugs, but the pictures I took of those came out too blurry to post.

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    1. Cyrillic was my uneducated guess and then took it from there. Of course, I may be dead wrong with Serbian Cyrillic. ( :

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  10. Well, ideas that come immediately include making stationery that feature a stylized snapshot of the QDL at the top, with the keytops around the sides in order, all rendered out as a line drawing and put Amaranth leaves or some kind of crest behind the typwriter. I'm thinking brown ink on some recycled-pulp natural colored paper. Then I'd make some window clings with the qwerty layout on them and cut the letters out to put on the Armenian keytops. Then I could type as normal, on my new letterhead, and in order to decrypt the message, you'd compare the armenian keyboard (from the letterhead) to the qwerty one and write out a letter substitution table.

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  11. Also, on that keyboard, it is possible to legibly type out "rrtm". Yet another point that makes me squirm with desire.

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  12. @Ted: Wow! You have obviously thought this through much more than I realized. Typing in code - positively ingenious. And having the key to the code on the letterhead... amazing, good Sir. I doff my hat!

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  13. 25 Swiss francs = 26.5958 US dollars according to Google. I might have to send you a cheque to go rescue that fella, and save up for shipping later.. interested?

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  14. I can't add much to the discussion other than agree that it is totally amazing and I would have brought it home for cryptographic purposes as well.

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  15. Indeed. That would have been hard to pass up, despite the language barrier. We've all got non-buyer's remorse going here!

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  16. What a beautiful machine! I'm with Ted, you could use it to play secret service agent and write "coded messages" to the friends.

    You can make it even more difficult to crack if you write in a different language - say, French or Spanish or German and NOT include the keyboard layout with the message. Any "spy" who "intercepted" the message would have, first, to determine the language it was writen on, and then, knowing which are the most common consonants and vowels in that language, try to crack the code by counting the letters and symbols...

    ... Yeah, I know. Blame it on a book I'm currently reading, it gave me this crazy idea. XD

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  17. An interesting find, but I can honestly say I would have passed as well. It is something I would never be able to use...as it is a Royal. Ha!

    Honestly, though, I have never actually come across a typewriter with a whole different language keyboard. While they are interesting, and even if it were a machine I really wanted, I don't think I would make the purchase. It would just sit there, taunting me for my inability to use it.

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  18. That is very interesting. Can't wait for Ted to post with it lol.

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  19. I also think it's Armenian. Would you get it for me? I have a friend I would like to give it to as a present.

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  20. @Dwayne: Thanks for stopping by! Indeed, it's not every day that I stumble across one like this.

    @Michael: Non-buyer's remorse, ha! If I go back and it is still there, I might do a little gibberish typecast... hmm, let's see how long it sticks around the shop. It still won't follow me home, though :)

    @Miguel: That is certainly elaborate! I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of your decrypted message; it would take me ages!

    @Ken: Haha, I do wonder whether it has all the limitations of other Royals of the same age - i.e. skipping escapements and so on. It looked really well kept, in any case.

    @notagain: We'll have to see if that happens...

    @shordzi: Hopefully, it'll be waiting for you when you next visit us in Geneva!

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  21. Everything's coming up Royal lately.

    Nice spotting, but I would have passed it up, too -- regretfully but emphatically.

    Royals of this vintage seem a bit less "skippy", I've found.

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  22. One beautiful QDL. I wonder what language? I have worked with many different nationalities when I was in Harrisburg, PA and may with a photo have been able to find out. I still work with many from Eastern Europe and a few from the Mid-East. I think I will show some photos around on Monday. I work with an Armenian.

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  23. After some consideration of the cost and logistics of getting this Armenian wonder to the states, I think I'll have to pass and let Shordzi pick it up for his Armenian friend. I'll just be happy with the little Royal Companion I just picked up :D

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  24. Wow! I've been looking for an Armenian typewriter for so many years. And in that model -- that must be rare indeed. Did someone end up buying it? I'm sick with jealousy...

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  25. I am Armenian, and I can ensure you all that this IS Armenian. I wish this baby were mine! Beautiful font. Does it have both upper AND lower case? This is the first Armenian typewriter I've seen so not sure!

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    1. There's a follow up to this post here: http://www.retrotechgeneva.com/2013/01/a-royal-start-to-new-year.html

      Yes, it has both upper and lower case as you will see in the pictures from the January post.

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