I also asked Cary to describe some of the unique features of his 1953 model. "The Fleming model is more streamlined and has rounded front corners, compared to the square model one sees on eBay. You can see that the gold case runs in front of the black space bar. The other model has squared-off front corners and the black space bar looks totally different at the very front of the typewriter. The two levers on the front panel that control ribbon color and ribbon reverse look totally different on both models, as well as the trim surrounding them. Since they are different models, I am guessing that many of the individual parts are different and not interchangeable."
It has been suggested that Royal Golds were designed by different designers during different years, but we have not verified specific names yet. Here are some of the new close-ups from Cary Mark, plus a nice "portrait" from a collector site, and a second collage I created. Imagine, if you will, typing out the manuscripts for early classics like Casino Royale (about to celebrate its 60th anniversary this month!), Live and Let Die and Moonraker. Tap-tap-tap.
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 ($89,144) 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)
IAN LANCASTER FLEMING (1908-64) 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).
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."
Did you know that Spy Vibe has a Pinterest page? You can see Spy Vibe graphics, dynamic vintage action, cliffhanger serials, Japanese designs from the 1920s, vintage mystery novels, and more! Visit our Ian Fleming Image Archive here. Also in Spy Vibe news, I have a spy novella coming out soon! Stay tuned for more info.
Check Spy Vibe for recent posts about Ian Fleming: the 60th Anniversary of Casino Royale, Ian Fleming's WWII Commandos, Ian Fleming's Playboy interview for Kindle, Spy Vibe's discovery of a rare Ian Fleming serialization, plus my recent series about Ian Fleming's music: Noel Coward,Whispering Jack Smith, Hawaiian Guitar, Joe Fingers Carr. Other recent posts include Cold War Photography, Operation Kid Brother (MST3K), PG Tips Brooke Bond, 1960s espionage writers, my review of SKYFALL, and more.
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