Saturday, February 22, 2014

More on the Rooy Intermédiaire

In my quest for more insight into the bulbous Rooy that I showed in my previous post, I turned to the ever-informative Ernst Martin (1949 edition of Die Schreibmaschine und ihre Entwicklungsgeschichte). He writes:

"1936 Rooy. Designed by Auguste Félix, manufactured by Etablissements M. & J. Rooy, 3-5 Rue Romainville, Paris XIX, which previously manufactured the Heady."

This is a Heady:

Yes, it's a near-clone of the Mignon. Keep in mind that the Mignon was produced by AEG (Allgemeine Elektrizitäts Gesellschaft, the "General Electric" of Germany), which also produced the Olympia (called the AEG typewriter until the name change to Olympia in 1930).

Martin continues: "As the manufacture of this machine [the Heady] was no longer profitable, the company switched to importing the Olympia portable and marketing it under the name Lutèce. One is reminded of the Olympia portable when one looks closely at the Rooy. The inner frame to which the mechanism is attached consists of welded steel. This inner frame is protected by an enameled outer shell that also gives the machine an attractive appearance. Such shells were known since a patent for one was issued to the Underwood Co. at the end of 1920." (This was new information for me and makes me wonder -- did no typewriters have such outer shells before 1920?)

"The carriage runs on ball bearings. The paper table can be tilted up so that one can set the margins while remaining seated. The segment is slightly tilted, so that the typing can be seen without any strain. Line advance with three positions at left, movable Papieranlage [I'm not sure what that is], paper guide, postcard holder, covered ribbon spools, bicolor ribbon, automatic ribbon reverse, bakelite keys, weight 7 kg. Illustration 796 shows the escapement, whose noise is almost eliminated. When the carriage is returned there is very little sound. The tabulator stops are set and cleared with keys. Illustration 797 shows the mechanism for setting and clearing, but does not show the two keys."

Now, here is a sophisticated feature that I hadn't noticed at all. "When one depresses the tabulator key, the carriage moves quite quickly for the first ten spaces; then the tabulator brake is engaged and reduces the speed of the carriage. Near the end of a line, where only a few keystrokes are possible, the carriage moves with the same speed as at the start. In general, typewriters have a tabulator brake that brakes with the same force from the beginning to the end of the line, even though by the end of the line, the mainspring has lost 2/3 of its force. Model 12 (1937) has a somewhat wider carriage."

I also received several interesting illustrations from Jean-Jacques Deurdilly via Marc Pellacoeur.

Here is the Intermédiaire 40 (made 1939-1950): 

Intermediaire 40
up to 307000193913

Now here is a brochure advertising the advantages of a model simply called the Intermédiaire. I think that is probably the correct designation for my own machine (#413937) even though it is not included in our available serial number data. The Intermédiaire was abbreviated as Inter or IN:

Model IN
up to 360000195113

Here's one nice feature that I've noticed on my machine: "Thanks to the movable paper-holding rollers on the paper bail, the paper can be introduced without any need to raise the bail."

Let's look at some other styles in which the intermediate Rooy was offered.

This somewhat less radically rounded body, with a more conventional ribbon cover, was usually marketed as the Racer, but also sometimes appeared with the M. J. Rooy name:

 Later on, the intermediate Rooy succumbed to the angularity of '60s design:

To add to the confusion, here is a page from a French guide to typewriter models:

According to this document, the "semi-standards" 8, 10, 11, 28, and 40 have a "black frame with sharp angles"; the "IN Racer" and "Stand[ard] Minor" have a "gray aerodynamic frame." Since my serial number is over 410000, it may be designated as a Standard Minor, but I'm going to wait for more evidence. The accuracy of this list is questionable.

Now, here's a revelation among the documents I just got:

A Rooy-made "Olympia," in the Racer-style body!

If you click on the image to enlarge it, you'll see that just below the Olympia logo on the machine, the words "Licence Française" appear. 

So the Rooy-AEG/Olympia connection continued after the Second World War. However, these "Olympias" must be very rare.

Finally, here is a machine that may be even rarer: an electric Rooy, the Selectra 1000. It looks like it dates from the same period as the angular machine pictured above. Since it has a carriage return lever, the carriage must not have been returned electrically. Presumably, electric power was just applied to the typebars. The typewriter appears to be built on the same principles as the Intermédiaire. Does anyone have one of these??

For more on Rooy typewriters, visit Will Davis's page.


  1. Very informative. The 60's angular Rooy reminds me of the Remington Quiet-Riter Miracle Tab/Star Tab. A downgrade, really. A Rooy-made Olympia, what a discovery!

  2. hmmn, so what is this "French guide to typewriter models"? I'm curious to take a peek (:

    1. Marc says it is “Cote de reprise officielle des Machines à Ecrire et à Calculer” issued by the “Fédération Nationale des Chambres syndicales de la Mécanographie." He is working on getting a copy.

  3. Of course, now I must own a Rooy made Olympia. Someone help me over here!

  4. I do believe the Olympia Rooy fits my no typewriter buying unless it is a unique machine goal (even though I already bought a not unique machine this year).

  5. A few rare gems to watch out for! How is "Rooy" pronounced? ROY? ROO? ROO-EE? RA-OY?

    1. I believe it's a Dutch name, but since it was a French company, in France it was pronounced like "roi" (rrwah). In the US, according to their ads, it should be pronounced "roy."

  6. Great sleuthing Richard! Very interesting stuff.

  7. Wonderful! Thanks for this beautiful and informative post. As Rooys are just at my doorstep, you really put me on the track now to get them.

  8. Great stuff, Richard, well done. Fills a big gap in our knowledge of French typewriters.