After finishing the first draft of Casino Royale, Ian Fleming rewarded himself with a Royal Quiet Deluxe Portable gold-plated typewriter. Fleming bought the gold-plated version from a New York dealer in 1952 as a trophy and wrote to 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.”
He quipped about the pomposity of it all telling a friend, unsure of hat type of paper to use:
“Personal goatherds in Morocco to manufacture sheets of vellum to be sent to Cartier to be studded with diamonds? If this did not signify that I was a writer of distinction, then perhaps I could use my own blood as ink to round off this picture!”
The Royal Typewriter Company, a manufacturer of typewriters headquartered in New York City, introduced the Quiet Deluxe portable typewriter in 1941 and the model became very popular. In 1947 Royal produced, in limited quantity, a gold-plated version of the Quiet Deluxe model. The golden version is nowadays hard to find but a simple Royal Quiet Deluxe portable typewriter can be found on eBay sometimes.
All Fleming’s novels were written at Goldeneye during January-March, all typed on folio paper (44 lines to the full page, double spaced). It is interesting to note that in the typescripts the paper often slipped in the machine at the last line which slopes down to the right. As a journalist Fleming was used to composing on the typewriter, hence no “manuscripts” exist.
I asked an expert on these matters, Teeritz, to offer his thoughts on what Fleming described as “that ghastly beast” and who even kindly typed out his response to demonstrate the machine in action!
“I have a 1947 Royal Quiet De Luxe which has a different styling to the later model that Ian Fleming used. However, the mechanics of both models are the same, as far as I know. but I have to say that my one is a joy to use. As long as you get your typing speed down to a more leisurely pace, the sound of the typeslugs hitting the page are a treat. It delivers a softer and more muted sound as you write, compared to other machines that I have. It wasn’t called the Quiet De Luxe for nothing.
His gold-plated commemorative model was what he used to write “Casino Royale” and whenever I picture him sitting in his study at ‘Goldeneye’ on a warm Jamaican night, the windows flung open to let the breeze in off the water, a stack of white sheets of paper to his left, with a question-mark curl of blue-grey smoke rising from an ashtray to his right, I find it hard to imagine how one could not write a story about a British Secret Agent who risks his life time and again in the defence of The Empire.”
According to Guinness World Records the Most Valuable Typewriter belonged to Ian Fleming’s gold-plated typewriter, which was sold for £56,250 (US$89,229) at Christie’s in London, UK, on May 5, 1995.The 1947 model typewriter was bought by an anonymous bidder but to this day its whereabouts remain unknown.
Rumors once circulated that actor Pierce Brosnan, who played James Bond, had purchased the typewriter, but he denied it.
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