March 19, 2013


Ian Fleming fans have long wondered who the mystery buyer was that purchased the author's gold Royal typewriter from Christie's in 1995. There was much speculation that this rare artifact went to Pierce Brosnan, but the 007 actor has denied the claim. Meanwhile, collectors have continued to hunt for gold editions of the Royal Quiet Deluxe. Royal began producing the gold model in limited editions starting in 1947. As the story states below, Fleming ordered his typewriter in 1952 to celebrate (and revise) his first novel, Casino Royale. Spy Vibers can now bid on another edition gold Royal featured in a current auction on eBay. The starting price seems very high, but it might be just right for the collector with deep pockets. More about famous writers and their typewriters here. Collectors Weekly article here.

The auction literature from Christie's had this to say about Fleming's famous model, sold as Lot 122 in 1995: Price Realized £55,750 
 Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and do not reflect costs, financing fees or application of buyer’s or seller’s credits. Estimate £5,000 - £8,000 ($7,995 - $12,792)

Lot Description
A Royal Quiet De Luxe portable typewriter, circa 1952, with gold-plated body and fittings, four-row keyboard, 11 x 11 x 6in., in composition carrying case, the attached paper tag with printed address: "The Pantechnicon, Heathfield Terrace" and manuscript inscription: "Mrs I. Fleming 4, 23-2-73."

By direct descent to the Hon. Mrs Fionn Morgan, the writer's stepdaughter (sold with a letter of provenance).

Lot Notes
Ian Fleming commissioned this typewriter from the Royal Typewriter Company in New York in the spring of 1952, as a replacement for his old Imperial. The first draft of the novel Casino Royale, introducing 007 agent James Bond, had been read enthusiastically by Fleming's publishers Jonathan Cape. However they commented that "although the details were original and interesting ... the book, though publishable, needed extensive revision." For this revision, Fleming had chosen a symbol to remind himself where, with luck, his future lay. This was a new typewriter to replace his old Imperial, a golden typewriter. He had ordered it in New York and on May 17th, some weeks before submitting the manuscript to his publisher, he wrote to a his friend Ivar Bryce in New York asking him to bring the typewriter over on his next trip to England: "Here is one vital request. I am having constructed for me by the Royal Typewriter Company a golden typewriter which is to cost $174. I will not tell you why I am acquiring this machine." The gold-plated typewriter duly arrived and Fleming completed the revised manuscript which was accepted by Jonathan Cape for publication the following April. Fleming typed all his subsequent novels on this gleaming but compact machine that seems to encapsulate the half-fantasy world of ostentatious 1950's gadgetry so familiar from the Bond novels themselves." Fleming's model below.

have a spy novella coming out soon! Stay tuned for more info. Did you know that Spy Vibe has a Pinterest page? You can see collections of images of Ian Fleming's life, dynamic vintage action, cliffhanger serials, Japanese designs from the 20s, vintage mystery novels, and more! Ian Fleming board here.

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Series links: Noel Coward,Whispering Jack SmithHawaiian GuitarJoe Fingers Carr, and recent posts about 1960s espionage writers, Spy Vibe's discovery of a rare Ian Fleming serialization, my review of SKYFALL, 007 at the Intnl Spy Museum, Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot, new Beatles bio from Mark Lewisohn, tributes to Donald Richie and Tony Sheridan, the Les Vampires serial on Blu-ray, Lucy Fleming, The Beatles first record session, Ian Fleming's desert island interview, new Ian Fleming book designs, FantomasSpy SmasherBarbarella tv show, British spy comics, Piper Gates retro designs, Cinema Retro, and more. 

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  1. While the eBay listing is, indeed, for a gold-plated Royal Quiet Deluxe, it's the wrong the model year and quite different from Fleming's.

  2. yes, it seems a bit different. do you know the particular model variation to match Fleming's? Since his was 'commissioned' in 1952, perhaps it was a unique item?

  3. Most of the Royal Gold models out there on ebay on are not the Fleming model. I have one that is exactly like it that can be seen at:

  4. Thank you, Cary. It's great to see the photograph of your Royal. What a beautiful piece! I'd love to find one. If you can make some close-up images of some of the keys and parts, it might be fun to post them on Spy Vibe so we can all imagine what it was like for Fleming to type those manuscripts :)

  5. also, i've added you link to the post. -jason


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