|THE ROYAL ADMINISTRATOR|
|At left is a typewriter that has received coverage only on my site until now, at least as far as websites go; this is the Royal Diana portable. This example was manufactured in the Netherlands by Royal-McBee Nederlands N.V., the wholly-owned subsidiary of Royal-McBee. This operation had originally been the typewriter arm of Halberg Machinefabriek, and had produced the Halberg Traveler until Royal-McBee bought it out.
The design of machine seen here initially entered production, according to Beeching, in Mannheim, West Germany, but at some point production of the machine was transferred to the Nethelands, where it was placed back in production alongside the small, flat machines developed from the Halberg. Thus, Royal-McBee had established production in Europe of both popular classes of portable typewriter -- these being conventional desk-model machines, and small, flat travelling machines.
|The Royal Diana is not what you would call a common machine; they're not seen as often as a whole host of other Royal machines. But, with early production in the range of 7,000-12,000 machines a year, and later production apparently in the very rough range of 20,000 per year, they're not rare. (Serial number records end after 1959, with serial 81475 and over being 1959 or later; the Diana above is serial number DTE85312, indicating perhaps 1959 or 1960 production.)
The machine at right is also not what some would call rare -- but it is highly out of the ordinary and seen far less often than the Diana.. This is the Royal Century, which is mechanically the same as the Diana but is housed in the new mid-1960's styling that was also applied to the small, flat machines. The Century has nothing else special to commend it other than the fact that it is difficult to find.
|I was very lucky recently to discover (and buy) a Royal machine, related to the two above, which I did not know existed. It was only natural that I buy it -- not only for my collection, and not only since I had the other two known variants, but to display it here.|
|We see here the Royal Administrator. This machine is in another class of portable -- it is a portable with a wide carriage. This kind of mechanical alteration was common at this time in European-made portables, which in many cases were sold with different model numbers or names in order to delineate them from the other conventional machines. These machines were often aimed at small offices rather than homes in advertising of the day.
It is now apparent that Royal entered this market with the Administrator, and it also seems apparent that this model was not a success, given the fact that this is the first one of these I've ever seen. This machine is serial number ATP73586.
|The machine included not only its original zippered vinyl case (not the same as for the Diana, which wouldn't have been wide enough) but also contained its original instructions and its original wide-sized grey vinyl dust cover. At right, a scan from the instructions clearly showing the Administrator name on the paper table, and the extensions of the carriage rails at the sides necessary to handle the wide carriage. Interestingly enough, the instructions for this machine show what are believed to be the very early-style dark keytops, and even more interestingly, they were printed in West Germany even though the typewriter is labelled as manufactured in the Netherlands.|
|It is not known exactly what these machines are. By this I mean that the overall design matches no other Royal machines, even though these machines are equipped with the patented Royal Magic Margin system. These machines incorporate a key-set tabulator which uses a single lever (at the keyboard left side) to set and clear tab stops. The stops may also be cleared by carriage motion with the lever held in the "-" or "clear" position. The machines are segment-shifted. Just what led to the development of an apparently separate design in Germany in about 1953 is not known, although it is a safe assumption that the design initially began as something else, just as the Halberg had. (Indeed, some of these machines of the Diana variant are seen simply labeled "Diana" with no Royal logo at all.)|
|Are we sure that the Administrator was aimed as business applications? If the model name "Administrator" isn't enough, then note some of the introductory text from the instructions: "... Its generous 12" carriage permits it to accept large size envelopes and stationery impossible in most conventional office typewriters." The rest of the text simply indicates that the Administrator is a typewriter that is "never out of place -- anyplace," describes the styling, and the Magic Margin feature.|
|How should we view this machine, in our time? It does seem clear that, by the very fact that it was not just a Diana with optional carriage, but rather an 'Administrator,' that its marketing was refocused. The instructions' comments give some slight further weight to this. It should be noted that a number of other popular portables were given wide carriages and a new marketing focus -- the Voss Business-Riter is one good example. Also, many Alpina machines were used in business applications with or without wide carriage. The point here is that the sub-market existed, although it was very small, and this may have been an attempt by Royal to tap into it. The likely problem was that the Diana/Century, and thus the Administrator, were not exceptional machines. In fact, these are just below average in operational use and feature comparison with the broad range of contemporary machines. This would certainly have hurt any attempt to introduce such a machine into an office setting -- compared with the exceptional quality of the Alpina and Voss machines.
No matter how we try to classify or re-classify the Administrator today, it is of interest to us, even if this is only because of the complete lack of remark up to present that even indicates its existence.
|Let's pause a moment in our display of ROYAL portables, and examine a rare sub-variant of an already slightly unusual machine.|