Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Royal Classic 79104P typewriter

I just got wind of a new manual typewriter, the Royal 79104P, also known as the Royal Classic.

Royal says:

Continuing with our long history of manufacturing quality typewriters, Royal introduces our new "Classic" manual typewriter in traditional Black!

The Royal Classic features a sturdy metal housing & provides the essential functions to compose a novel, write lyrics or send an old fashioned letter.

A computer will never be as beautiful as a vibrant typewriter, so take a step back in time with the Royal Classic!

Another retailer writes:

This is a portable manual typewriter for on-the-go authors! The Royal Classic Manual Typewriter features metal construction, a wide 11 in. carriage, 88 characters, and a black and red nylon ribbon. It's ideal for those who prefer a retro look or easy typing without electronics.

The official retail price is $299.99, but I see prices as low as $147.83.

So, what should we make of this new offering?

The designation "79104P" doesn't exactly trip off the tongue, but it's a pleasure to see the old Royal logo proudly adorning a typewriter, more than a century after the first Royals were introduced (in 1906).

The streamlined body is attractive, and will look familiar to those who know the We R Memory Keepers Typecast Typewriter, which was sold for about a year by Michaels crafts stores. The shell was designed by Curt R. Jensen.

Although Royal speaks of "sturdy metal housing," I doubt that the entire shell is metal; my guess is that there is a lot of plastic on and in this typewriter.

The manufacturer of this machine, as of all manual typewriters I'm aware of in the last few years, is clearly Shanghai Weilv, a small Chinese factory that offers several models that can be branded with various names. The mechanical design has no relationship to classic Royal portables.

As for quality: I haven't tried a 79104P, but I've tried similar products from this factory, such as the Royal Epoch, which is probably mechanically the same. The quality control is very deficient, when compared to machines from the golden age of typewriter manufacturing (roughly 1930-1960).

But who knows? Maybe they've improved their quality. I would love to hear from someone who has tried this latest iteration. And efforts like this keep hope alive that someone will decide to produce a truly high-quality manual typewriter for the 21st century—a machine that will cost more than this one, but will last for decades and be a pleasure to use.

Monday, March 11, 2019

An Aristocrat in San Francisco

A San Francisco corner at night:

Meanwhile, in Oakland earlier today ....

... I stopped by the amazing Cathedral of Christ the Light, on Lake Merritt. It's impossible to capture this space in a photo. A visit is highly recommended.

PS: Here's my visit to New Haven and my interview with Manson Whitlock.