A Gothic Royal

by | Jan 12, 2020 | Royal | 8 comments

I’m glad that I took a close look at this 1937 Royal KHM when I spotted it in a Kentucky antique mall last month. The model is one of my favorites, as it has the good looks and snappy touch of older Royals plus the basket shift that makes the newer Royals easy to use. This particular KHM wasn’t in mint condition—its decals were faded, and there were various signs of wear and tear—but when I tried typing a few words, even though there was no ribbon in the machine, I could see that it featured a double Gothic typeface. The price was right (under $50, as I recall), so I snapped it up.

Yesterday, I spent the usual 3-4 hours that it takes to clean a standard Royal. By now I’m familiar with the routine: remove body panels, remove the platen and feed rollers, blow out the junk that has accumulated under the typebars, install a new ribbon, polish with Turtle Wax, and so on.

Today we associate the word “Gothic” with “Goths,” and we expect typography that belongs on a heavy metal album or is reminiscent of German Fraktur. But “Gothic” in the printing world traditionally refers to plain, sans-serif typefaces. A “double Gothic” typewriter prints two sizes of sans-serif capital letters. It’s one of the more unusual styles that you can find on typewriters; I see it about as often as I see italics, and less often than script. I think the main use of double Gothic was to produce captions and labels; it would be a bit odd to type a long text in this style. I have used a double-Gothic Remington noiseless portable to type headings for stories in Cold Hard Type; that machine recently went to a colleague, so I needed a new double-Gothic machine for the upcoming CHT volume III.

This typewriter gave me an opportunity to use a standard Royal spool with green ribbon that I had picked up from Spitzfaden’s years ago. (Here is my nearly ten-year-old report on Spitzfaden’s and the surrounding “typewriter row” in Cincinnati. Recently, Spitzfaden’s finally shut down, and there are other new developments on Main Street that threaten to wipe out its old character.)

Eventually this typewriter may be put up for sale to benefit WordPlay, but for now, it’s a welcome addition to my battery of writing machines.

What neat typewriters have you found recently?


  1. Bill M

    Congratulations on the beautiful typewriter. The typeface is really nice.

  2. Unnamable

    That’s a beauty. I have a SX Royal 10 from the same year. Can’t recall what the SX in the serial means.

  3. JanetLand

    I love the numbers especially.

  4. David Brechbiel

    I was given a 1954 Underwood Leader. A rather normal crinkle brown with green keys. The original owner, a friend of the family, got it as a Christmas Gift during his senior year. It was purchased by his mother from the John Plain Catalog. Well used and well preserved. It will be in my collection forever.

  5. Miffed

    I love the look of the Royal KHM. I have one, but it needs more attention than I'm giving it just now, i.e., backspace not functioning among other things, and, I think, possibly a cracked carriage rail. I just acquired a Remington Noiseless model 8 which is getting my attention right now. It might just be the epitome of an Art Deco-styled machine.

  6. DonN

    I bought a 1954 Royal QDL recently, nothing special, but it was one with the motor tension control, which I'd never seen before. Many hours of work later, I'm still getting it into shape, proving that I still have lots to learn about typewriter repairing, and that I am still capable of learning….

  7. Ted

    That looks like a really satisfying project. A desired typeface is a good reward. (:


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