James's Typewriter Collection
Oliver typewriter ad, 1904
Oliver No. 5 (type sample)

Royal is my favorite manufacturer. Don’t ask me why because I don’t know. But I had a Royal when I was in high school and college and thought it was better than some of the others I’d used. And I like their styling. Royals are among the best looking typewriters, period.

Among collectors, or people who just want a typewriter either because it seems to be popular now or think they’re cool looking, prize portables in bright colors or foreign models that look like Karman Ghias.

The Model 10 is exactly what I like: a big piece of iron that threatens to throw out your back if you lift it incorrectly. It’s glossy black (well, some are) with gold lettering. And best—something nobody else did—it has windows on the side; and not just windows, but bevelled glass windows.

Royal made this beast over a 20 year span, which is a long production run for a typewriter. There were four versions but the differences are small. Version 1 ran from 1913 to around 1915, and it had two open windows on the sides. It was common in those days to have open panels on the sides. It also had red pin-stripeing around the windows and on the front panel. The second version started in 1915 or 16 and went to around 1923: it had bevelled glass windows placed in the side panels, but got rid of the pin-stripeing. The glass improved the look and (I’m guessing) probably cut down some of the noise. Around 1923 they changed the two-window configuration to a single, rectangular window, also with bevelled glass. This is the one I think looks best.

The last version was not a cosmetic change, but a functional one: they changed how the shift worked. The older machines would lift the carriage whenever you pressed the Shift key (called carriage-shift); the new models dropped the basket (called basket-shift).

After that I’m not exactly sure what goes on. From TypewriterDatabase’s serial number list, we move into the S model, the H model, then the KHM, KHT, and KMG. A person on Facebook told me that these were variations on the Model 10, but I don’t know. There&rsquot;s an obvious evolution going on, but it goes back to the 10’s predecessor (the Royal Grand) and beyond into the electrics, depending on your eye for design. Personally I look at the model H as the next group.

All that is minutae anyway.

So back to the Model 10s. I have two (pictures below). The one on the left is from around 1922; it’s got two windows. The one on the right is from 1929 and has one window.

Model 10s side-by-side Model 10s side-by-side

Outside of the number of windows and decal changes, the difference between them is the paint. The older one has a gloss black finish, the younger one has a heavily textured, matte black finish. The paint style seems to be an option, as I’ve seen glossy and matte versions throughout the run. I believe they carried it over to later models as well.

My older one, the pretty glossy one, has a broken carriage (I think it was dropped), so I’m on the lookout for a parts donor. Meanwhile the 1929 (matte version) works fine.